Marketers have evolved over time, transforming from outbound messaging experts to client engagement professionals. As global markets continue to place greater emphasis on consumer demands and long-term relationships with brands, companies are looking to achieve more than just sales with each marketing effort enacted. Rather, marketing departments play a key role in creating client engagement opportunities for the brand. Each opportunity strives to establish a trusting relationship that can open doors to sustained loyalty and future referrals via word-of-mouth marketing. Marketing departments must now leverage data analytics to identify purchasing trends and behaviors, and translate figures into actionable insights for more efficient interactions with the public.

Targeted marketing campaigns are the foundation of modern business advertising efforts, made possible through the collection and analysis of client data. Marketing teams are now collecting and reporting on statistics similar to what IT departments offer, but with a stronger emphasis on behavioral data to support marketing projects moving forward. The increasingly competitive global marketplace is making client acquisition and retention efforts more important than ever, particularly for companies operating on tight budgets. Smart use of client data and optimization of statistical insights will help entrepreneurs take on larger counterparts and maintain a competitive edge when generating leads and developing relationships with target audiences.

Modern marketing departments are equipped with big data analytics tools that allow them to test responses to targeted campaigns. The information collected and utilized by marketing teams is a combination of online and offline metrics integrated to provide real-time predictive analytics. Marketing departments are expected to not only study and understand client reactions from past campaigns, but also use available data to make strong predictions for how future marketing efforts will impact purchasing behavior and brand reputation. These capabilities are not limited to major corporations. Entrepreneurs must understand how marketing departments have evolved over time and provide the necessary big data analytics tools to enhance client behavioral research and optimization.

Turning Info Into Intelligence
According to research conducted by Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Yesmail Interactive, marketing departments in companies of all sizes are planning to leverage digital information to gain business intelligence and support communications and advertising measures. In the coming year, more marketing professionals plan to increase use of data-rich reports to improve insight into client behaviors, collecting information from common digital channels. To tackle and optimize big data in 2013, the study revealed:

  • 68% of marketers plan to increase data spending
  • 56% anticipate hiring new employees for data positions
  • 45% expect analyzing or applying data to be the biggest challenge in 2013
  • 83% will start using real-time data to enhance campaigns

The researchers dug deeper into how data-related efforts will impact marketing efforts in the future and guide spending decisions. In 2013, 48% of marketing departments plan to spend more on data-related solutions and efforts, while 20 percent plan to increase spending significantly on such measures. In the next 12 months, more than half of respondents plan to hire at least one new employee to oversee data collection or analysis such as a data strategist, developer, collection expert, data manager, data engineer or data executive. Forty-four percent, however, do not plan to hire new employees for data-related marketing efforts, suggesting some companies will provide training to existing employees to boost data usage and awareness.

Roadblocks to Overcome
With regard to the challenges big data will present to marketing teams this year, 25 percent said analyzing data will present the most trouble while 20% cited application of data as a challenging area. Other common concerns surrounding the use of digital information in marketing campaigns include cleaning data, protecting customer privacy, collecting information in real-time and hiring qualified employees to undertake data-related activities.

Despite the many challenges and adjustments presented by the use of big data in marketing campaigns, business builders are not backing away from information-driven measures. In fact, companies that fail to acknowledge the power of big data in marketing campaigns will likely lose a competitive edge to more data-savvy organizations in their markets. As a result, 53 percent of marketing teams plan to use real-time data as a foundation of campaigns this year, while 19 percent will rely on the data more. About 11 percent expect to use data-rich strategies for the first time this year, while another 11 percent do not expect to use digital data at all. Some businesses argue data-driven efforts are too complicated or expensive to be implemented into business strategies at this time.

However, there are many sources of digital client data that are cost-efficient but still provide valuable insight into purchasing behaviors and product preferences. For example, social media is a common source of client-specific data that also provides companies with another communication portal to strengthen relationships with target audiences. The study revealed 78 percent of marketing teams anticipate greater reliance on and use of social media data in 2013 to drive marketing campaigns, compared to just 22 percent who do not plan to integrate social data into marketing communications. Don’t fall behind the trend of data-rich marketing tactics that enable more targeted messaging to the public to product high return on investment.