Marketers are beginning to glean ROI from new analytics initiatives

March 4, 2014 by Erin Haselkorn

As companies of all sizes look to advance their marketing goals, they’re becoming increasingly reliant on big data. Relying on human interaction with individual customers can be helpful, but anecdotal evidence can only go so far. In order to view the complete, objective picture, businesses are turning to data.

This is becoming an area of greater emphasis in 2014 as marketers set their sights on ambitious new goals. Companies are investing heavily in information to gain intelligence and become more data-driven.

According to an annual study from Infogroup Targeting Solutions (ITS), there are plenty of numbers to prove this growing trend. The organization polled nearly 400 marketers at a recent conference, and more than 60 percent of them expect their companies’ big data marketing budgets to increase.

ITS president David McRae said in a news release that he was cautiously optimistic about this year’s findings — there’s great potential in tapping into big data, but this effort also requires considerable manpower.

“The survey findings indicate that marketers are moving from the information-gathering stage to the analytics phase of big data adoption,” McRae said. “But a downturn in hiring could stall big data implementation, as the need for human capital is greatest during the analysis and action stages. Big data is meaningless without manpower.”

There’s good news for marketers mapping out their budgets for 2014. While it may be expensive to dedicate more labor to collecting and analyzing data, it’s also worth it. ITS has found that the majority of companies have discovered the positive ROI in big data.

The survey data revealed that more than half of marketers — 54 percent — have invested in big data, and of those early adopters, 61 percent are already seeing a positive return. Moreover, it’s clear that those executives are willing to reinvest those funds in manpower, as 59 percent of those polled said they intend to onboard data analysts or strategists within the next year.

A need for data quality

While it is encouraging to see marketers heavily investing in big data, organizations also need to focus on data quality as part of any data-driven initiative.

According to a recent Experian Data Quality study, U.S. businesses believe that on average a quarter of data is inaccurate and 66 percent lack a coherent, centralized approach to data management. Those factors make it hard for marketers to take advantage of this big data revolution.

To take advantage of the positive return on investment, companies need to have sound data to back-up analytics. Look to create a centralized data management strategy to make certain data is validated and accurate before it is evaluated and used for analytics.

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