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Consumer Marketing in a Data Deluge

Data. It may be the single most valuable asset consumer facing companies have, but it also presents a host of challenges.

The first issue: Today’s marketers are faced with a huge, unrelenting influx of data. The second problem is figuring out what it all means.

A recent survey commissioned by marketing software provider BlueVenn and conducted by Censuswide research firm in February, polled more than 2,000 consumers and 600-plus marketers in the U.S. and U.K. and uncovered how companies are positioning themselves to better connect with potential customers.

The report found that currently companies’ messages and consumers’ tastes are not aligned.

Ninety-three percent of marketers polled said they are confident in their abilities to parse the data they receive, yet 58 percent of consumers are annoyed that the marketing messages they receive aren’t pertinent enough.

Further, while 86 percent of those surveyed believe more is more when it comes to gathering information on their customers, 57 percent are failing to use this data to create a holistic view of them.

The report says that with the increasing amount of data coupled with marketers’ time constraints, it’s no wonder this valuable resource is being squandered.

“As the customer journey grows increasingly complex, combining ever more touchpoints and online/offline data sets, this issue is only set to get worse,” BlueVenn said.

Survey respondents admit that analyzing what the information means and then translating that into a profitable marketing plan is often an insurmountable feat. They said they need help quantifying the return on investment for social media and traditional PR. And for just over a quarter (26 percent), even quantifying the return on online ads is a challenge.

Marketing professionals in the U.S., specifically, reported being almost equally stumped when trying to quantify traditional advertising returns as well as newer marketing forms like social media and search engine optimization.

What do consumers want?

When marketers are capable of analyzing the incoming data enough to create targeted pitches, consumers appreciate it—except when they don’t.

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Companies targeting consumers, it seems, have to walk a bit of tightrope.

Of the 2,000 consumers polled, 83 percent said they hate marketing that doesn’t relate to them. On the other hand, 70 percent say personalized advertising can be “creepy.”

What’s a marketing pro to do?

It’s unclear since even when they’re creeped out, 63 percent of the respondents find personalized recommendations helpful.

Of the things consumers definitely don’t want companies to know about them: salary (63 percent), credit rating (58 percent), private social media data (56 percent), smart home data (56 percent) and browsing history (52 percent).

Where is marketing headed?

Looking ahead, marketers are hopeful that their companies will invest more in the necessary tools for analyzing data effectively. Of those polled, 58 percent of U.S. marketers and 62 percent of those in the U.K. feel their companies are lagging behind in this area.

BlueVenn expects the U.S. to lead the U.K. in implementing AI for real-time personalization and adopting virtual assistants over the next five years. Meanwhile, the U.K. is likely to focus on app-based marketing and predictive analytics.

On the consumer side, 60 percent of U.S. respondents are most looking forward to receiving truly customized discounts in the next five years. Overall, those polled indicated that if they were to receive something in return (like a benefit or a perk), they’d be more willing to relinquish personal information.

With 64 percent of consumers using the Internet to browse while still preferring to shop in store, it’s clear that retailers must crack the code between online and offline data—and maybe continue to improve the online shopping experience.