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If companies are failing at data, marketers need to say so

The opportunity to work with data probably isn’t the main reason most marketers joined the profession. At the same time, it’s more important than it’s ever been: according to our new Data Skills Benchmarking Report, 99 per cent of marketers claim data is either ‘important’ or ‘very important’. Sophisticated data-driven analysis is fast becoming a career in its own right, and savvy young marketers are realising this is where future opportunities lie.

The research also revealed 73 per cent of marketers don’t feel their company is able to make the most of the data sets in its possession. That’s an awful lot of companies squandering the opportunities data has to offer. In line with this, a third of marketers report their companies have either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor' data management skills (with big companies in particular struggling on data management). So, how are marketers supposed to use data to its full potential if it isn’t managed properly across the business?

While marketers are ready to criticise their company’s use of data, the research also shows there is some way to go before marketers and their teams feel completely comfortable with data – in fact, 90 per cent of marketers feel their team’s data skills need to improve. While those in the industry tend to rate their own data skills as better than those of their wider team, and better still than the rest of the company, there is clearly room for improvement. Having said this, marketers are almost certainly in the best position to highlight the importance of data and drive its effective use across the business.

This doesn’t mean introducing detailed analytics to the HR department; but it means getting the basics right, and ensuring everyone within the company understands the importance of data, in particular when it comes to creating a seamless customer journey. Paul Smith, VP and GM at Salesforce Marketing Cloud believes good data offers a full picture of your customer and the context in which they interact with your brand over time, allowing you to provide them with the experience they expect.

So, if marketers want to really start using data to support forward-thinking, sophisticated marketing activities that will enhance the customer experience, they can’t just sit back and hope the rest of the business suddenly realises it could be doing better. They need to sit up and say so.