Better Understanding Customers A Top Priority And Challenge For Marketers

April 12, 2016

Experian-Marketers-Top-Priorities-Apr2016Marketers’ top priority this year is enhancing their knowledge of their customers’ needs, attitudes and motivations, according to Experian Marketing Services’ latest annual Digital Marketer report [download page]. Some 52% of respondents from around the world (half in APAC) chose that as one of their top-3 priorities from a list of 7, leaving it ahead of other priorities including the integration of technology to automate, orchestrate and manage cross-channel customer interactions (43%).

Some 42% of respondents noted that collecting, linking and managing data is one of their top-3 priorities, while 4 in 10 pointed to investment in attribution tools, as ROI concerns persist.

Currently, multi-touch (32% share), fractional (28%) and first touch/last touch (26%) models are the most commonly used by enterprise marketers, while mid-market and smaller companies gravitate first to fractional models. Some 34% of small companies either do not track attribution (24%) or don’t know if they do (10%).

Meanwhile, some marketers are less concerned with better understanding their customers than others. For marketers in enterprise companies (more than $1 billion in revenues; 14% of the sample), technology integration to manage cross-channel customer interactions ranked as the top priority, likely due to these companies saying they’re more likely than smaller ones to run cross-channel campaigns this year. And for C-level executives in enterprise companies, technology integration, attribution tools, analytic investments and greater internal alignment around the consumer all ranked as greater priorities than a better understanding of the customer. (Presumably all of these would contribute to that understanding, though previous research suggests that integration and analysis of data isn’t a top factor inhibiting marketers from better knowing their audiences.)

Nevertheless, understanding their customers’ needs, wants and attitudes is the top challenge for marketers at enterprise organizations as well as marketers overall. Indeed, the analysts note that this is one of the crucial challenges faced by marketers regardless of industry or company size. Research also indicates that this is a key challenge faced by creatives.)


Some challenges that are more pressing to enterprise marketers than to the entire sample include:

  • Making messages contextually relevant;
  • Making analytics actionable; and
  • Overcoming internal silos.

That last point is likely due to different structures found in companies of various sizes. For example, 59% of respondents from enterprise-level companies report that their marketing teams are broken out by channel as opposed to being somewhat (27%) or fully (15%) integrated. Integration appears to be easier at smaller companies, as 74% of mid-market companies say their teams are fully or somewhat integrated, as do 81% of small market company marketers.

In other results from the survey:

  • The top challenges to creating a single customer view are technology to integrate customer data points in real time (46% ranking in top 3 of 7) and access to data from across the organization (43%);
  • Almost 7 in 10 respondents said that automated, real-time decisioning is an active component of their current marketing campaigns;
  • The most common uses for real-time decisioning are: to personalize content displayed on websites, apps and emails; to show the most relevant offers; and to personalize products recommended on websites, apps and by contact center agents;
  • Close to 9 in 10 enterprise marketers are planning to leverage historical campaign analytics for predictive modeling over the next year, with siloed organizations and departments their top challenge to doing so;
  • Almost all (96% of) enterprise companies are planning to run cross-channel campaigns this year, and mobile apps (65%) and email (63%) are the channels most likely to be integrated into these cross-channel programs;
  • Enterprise-level marketers are substantially more likely to to be integrating addressable TV into their cross-channel programs than marketers overall (49% vs. 29%); and
  • Roughly 2 in 3 respondents run mobile campaigns, the most common being promotional outbound (39%) and inbound (38%) campaigns.

About the Data: The 2016 Digital Marketer Survey was conducted from Nov. 3-23, 2015. Responses were collected from 1,190 professionals around the globe who have spending or purchasing influence or authority in marketing/advertising. Respondents included marketers from Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States. Geographically, half of the sample is located in the APAC region, followed by North America (25%) and EMEA (13%).

The retail and e-commerce industry was the most heavily represented (15%), followed by consumer products (13%) and financial services (13%).

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