Data challenges ‘leading to gaps’ in customer understanding

A large number of businesses are failing to fully understand the expectations of customers when they develop a marketing strategy, despite the fact they have more information sources available to them than ever before.

This is according to a report conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), sponsored by digital marketing solutions provider Lyris, which conducted research in association that found 45 percent of marketers are unable to effectively utilize big data analytics to draw out actionable insight.

A lack of resources was identified as a key barrier, as half of marketing executives surveyed feel they do not have the budget to manage digital marketing databases. As a result, it is difficult for many enterprises to get an accurate view of what their customer demands are.

Only 27 percent of professionals stated that are always able to integrate consumer information into a centralized platform where customer experience analytics can be used to aid with decision-making.

Even though the advantages of making use of data are widely recognized, less than a quarter of companies (24 percent) always use this to gain actionable insights. The limited understanding of marketing when it comes to analyzing and interpreting information was cited by 45 percent of respondents as a key barrier to developing better strategies.

One of the consequences of this failure to effectively use information means firms are limited in their ability to create customized offerings that drive customer loyalty.

As a result, companies are often relying on guesswork to drive their strategies, which creates a number of gaps between the views of marketers and their customers. 

For instance, marketers tend to underestimate the importance of email as a communications channel. Among consumers, 37 percent rated this as most important at the pre-sales stage and 52 percent value it highly post-sale, but despite this, marketing budgets remain heavily skewed in favor of company websites.

Companies are also not doing enough to offer an engaging experience on a personal level to users, with seven out of ten customers finding business' attempts in this area to be 'superficial'. Despite this, utilizing user profiles rather than data remains a highly popular marketing strategy.

Chief marketing officer of Lyris Alex Lustberg observed: "We have entered a new era of digital marketing that requires a smarter and more agile approach to engaging with and influencing today’s consumer."

However, he added that the EIU report highlights several key gaps in understanding between marketers and customers, many of which would be able to be closed if organizations are better able to use data-driven best practices to positively impact all aspects of the purchasing journey.

Editor at the EIU Janie Hulse added: "Bridging the gap between marketers and consumers requires marketing professionals to gain a more nuanced understanding of data analytics, which would allow for more and better customization – something customers say makes them feel valued."

The findings echo a recent piece by Forbes magazine, which highlighted the importance of harnessing customer data correctly. It noted that with so many sources of information available, it is "no small feat" to integrate these, but a successful strategy can quickly translate into more website visits and higher sales.