Money & Business

Marketers Need Consumer Data, But There's a Big Problem

By / Jul 26, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

A report coproduced by the Direct Marketing Association says that though organizations see consumer information as vital, few know how to best steward it.

Consumer data is increasingly essential for marketers, but properly safeguarding and shepherding that information isn’t easy.

That’s according to a new report published by the Winterberry Group in partnership with the Direct Marketing Association. The white paper, “The New Rules of the Road: Marketing Data Governance in the Era of  ‘Big Data,'” is based on a survey of more than 130 marketers, publishers, marketing service providers, technology developers, and policy experts. More details:

Unless a problem comes up, no one is really looking at our data strategically, but if we did that, I think we could really get to the next level in terms of using our information to drive value.

The data’s value: Most respondents to the study said that consumer data was important to their company’s long-term growth, with 39 percent saying they were somewhat dependent on such data and 59 percent very dependent. Further, while 66 percent of  those surveyed said data drove positive value to their companies now, 93 percent said they think it eventually will.

The problem: Most participants in the survey seemed to struggle with data governance—in other words, safeguards on data use. According to the study, 79 percent said that their firms could use stronger approaches for safeguarding. Factors making it a challenge include cost (45 percent of respondents said this was an issue), lack of internal ownership (46 percent), and internal processes (55 percent). The study included a number of anonymous quotes from marketing executives who spoke to this point. “We don’t really have a proactive data stewardship practice,” said one retail marketing executive. “Unless a problem comes up, no one is really looking at our data strategically, but if we did that, I think we could really get to the next level in terms of using our information to drive value.”

The strategy: The report suggests that a a well-placed data governance strategy—one that involves building a map of customer information, unifying strategies and infrastructure, and building an overall culture focused on the data—is the best way to improve this situation. “But as more marketers come to see ‘data’ as a fundamental driver of real and lasting business advantage, it is necessarily changing in form and function—moving to advance a series of proactive commercial goals, just as it continues to support a range of reactive compliance needs,” the study states.

You can download a free copy of the white paper on the DMA website.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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