Data is still a blind spot for marketers

Marketers need to change the way they think about data or risk getting lost in the crowd, writes Georgia Lennon, head of marketing at Experian Asia Pacific.

Australian marketers are struggling to acquire new customers, profile existing customers and to stand out from their competitors. Experian’s latest research conducted with more than 180 marketers from Australia and New Zealand revealed the most common challenges facing marketers, as well as key priorities for the year ahead.

Interestingly, marketers will need data and analytics to overcome all three of the top challenges they face this year. Despite data being discussed relentlessly over the past few years, and it being at the core of smart marketing initiatives, data is still a blind spot for many organisations. Less than a third of Australian marketers (31%) say data is a major challenge, yet only 17% identified it as a key focus area this year, compared with the global average of 29%.

Although marketers are aware of their shortcomings when it comes to data, they are still unsure of how to move forward, choosing to prioritise initiatives such as telling the brand story and standing out against competitors (52%) or building a customer acquisition strategy (57%) above focusing on good data management practices.

This is a cause for concern. Without accurate, enriched data, brands will continue to struggle to differentiate themselves from competitors, create relevant interactions or build successful customer-acquisition strategies.


Get more out of your data

As customers increasingly express their individuality, they expect brands to interact with them on a more personal level. Marketers need to leave the one-size-fits all approach in the past, yet many lack the resource, skills and depth of data to make this happen.

Businesses around the world tackle this roadblock by accessing third-party data, an efficient and often cost effective solution for gaining a deeper understanding of customers. Although this is a common practice globally, a significant number of Australian businesses are falling behind by not exploring ways to enrich their data from third-party sources. The study found 37% of respondents from Australia and New Zealand don’t enrich their data from third-party sources at all; this was significantly more than the global average of 25 per cent.

By enriching the data with insights and analytics such as combining the data from loyalty programs with demographic information and third–party data, marketers can ensure they are providing relevant and personalised interactions to their customers each and every time.


Get up close and personal

Once data is accurate and enriched, marketers are one step closer to understanding who their customers are and where their interests lie. The next step is to use this additional information to have more personalised conversations with customers.

Internationally, marketers are already doing this well. In North America and the UK, 42% of marketers personalise with behavioural data, compared with only 30% in Australia and New Zealand. The study shows local marketers have a way to go on their journey, finding 76% only personalise with basic data, like first names or not at all.

The most common roadblocks to personalisation for local marketers are lack of internal resources (46%), lack of technology to enable personalisation (36%) and inaccurate data (31%).

To be most effective, marketers must deploy personalised content, messaging and offers at each point of interaction. There is an opportunity for brands to begin to differentiate themselves in this way by delivering intelligent and authentic communications with their customers wherever and whenever they interact with the brand.


Where to next?

Marketers need to reframe the way they think about data and recognise it as an opportunity to achieve business outcomes. The key is prioritising data management strategies, and taking ownership of linking disparate data sources to enrich single customer view. Armed with a deeper understanding of their customer, marketers can develop highly effective, tailored and relevant content that resonates and adds value at every interaction.