Dealing with a Deluge of Marketing Data

Marketing analytics in the era of social mediaBelieve it or not, there was a time not so long ago when marketing professionals actually complained about a lack of data when it came to determining the success of sales, advertising or promotional initiatives.

Clearly, those days are long past. With the inexorable rise of digital and social media, many marketing managers now believe they can’t analyze and react to the sheer volumes of data that are now available.

That view comes through loud and clear in IBM’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Study, released in October 2011. In this large survey, IBM interviewed nearly 1,750 CMOs across nearly 20 industries in more than 50 countries … and ~70% of them revealed that they felt incapable of analyzing and responding to all of the data available to them.

For example, only about one in four CMOs in the survey reported that they are tracking blog content.

On the other hand, only ~36% reported that they still focus primarily on traditional sources of marketing information. Even so, ~80% continue to use certain forms of traditional management techniques to measure their success, such as competitive benchmarking and market research surveys.

As the newest activity – and perhaps the thorniest to measure – social media is a particular struggle, according to these CMOs. While just over 55% believe that social platforms represent a “key engagement channel,” an equal percentage say they’re not prepared to be held accountable for social media ROI.

Calculating the return on investment for acquiring Facebook fans, YouTube followers or LinkedIn company connections is really challenging, these respondents report. Instead, metrics that are typically tracked are new account signups, exits and cross-selling activity. For now at least, the commitment is to engage customers using social platforms without agonizing over ROI factors.

Thankfully, the hard-dollar advertising costs of using social platforms are modest … even though marketing departments must devote significant personnel resources to support the effort properly.

Monitoring social discussions, product reviews and other anecdotal information — and then compiling the data into actionable reports — requires daily focus and attention. But those actions are key to triggering timely alerts if something is amiss or there’s a change in the competitive picture.

What’s the prognosis for marketing data in the future? (Much) more of the same. For companies, the deluge – if not the fun – is just beginning.

One thought on “Dealing with a Deluge of Marketing Data

  1. In a “quantitative” world where EVERYTHING must be measured, where every business decision must be metrics-driven, this news is cause for alarm.

    There are those who always have argued that marketing is an art, not a science. With this new avalanche of information — so much data that all of it cannot possibly be assimilated (at least not at a cost most companies can afford) — perhaps “the artists” will win the day by default.

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