Corporate Eye

Data – The Missed Marketing Opportunity

marketing dataWhile there is no question that data mining is an essential part of successful brand and business development, marketers still struggle to make sense of the massive amounts of data available to them. The days of collecting data about customers through traditional market research surveys and focus groups with little other opportunity to access that data are long gone. In fact, there is so much data available online and via the social web today that marketers are completely overwhelmed.

Today’s data struggles for marketers come in a few forms:

  1. The sheer volume of data available at marketers’ fingertips can be paralyzing.
  2. Finding and extracting the right data is challenging.
  3. Knowing what to do with the available data is confusing.

There was a time when consumer surveys told marketers what consumers liked and disliked. Decision-making was simple. Numbers led the way. Today, data is so much more accessible and numbers come from all directions. The web is a virtual treasure trove of quantitative and quantitative data for strategic decision-making, but where do you begin?

That’s the problem researchers from Columbia Business School found in their recent 2012 BRITE-NYAMA Marketing in Transition Study — large corporations need to do a better job at using data, measuring digital marketing, and assessing marketing ROI. Sample findings from the study include the following:

  • 39% of corporate marketers say their company data is collected too infrequently or not “real-time enough.”
  • 52% of corporate marketers believe that a lack of sharing data within their companies limits their abilities to effectively measure marketing ROI.
  • Large corporations are less likely to collect emerging forms of digital data (e.g., only 19% collect mobile data and just 35% collect social media data) than they are to collect traditional customer survey data (e.g., 74% collect demographics data, 60% collect usage data, and 54% collect attitude data).
  • 65% of corporate marketers say that comparing the effectiveness of marketing across digital media is a “major challenge” for their companies.
  • 39% of corporate marketers say they can’t turn their data into actionable insight.
  • 36% of corporate marketers say they have “lots of customer data,” but they, “don’t know what to do with it.”

These days, collecting data isn’t necessarily the biggest problem for marketers. The problem is having the right resources (meaning tools and manpower) to continually collect, expertly analyze, and effectively disseminate that data to internal audiences so decision makers can make the right real-time strategic decisions. Companies that take the time to learn how to use all of this “new” data and hire the best people to analyze that data and report the most important findings will be in a far better position in the long-run. It’s not about how much data you collect. It’s about how you interpret it and use it to make the best decisions.

What do you think about the problems with data in 2012? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Ulrik De Wachter

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.