Marketers are planning to boost spending on Big Data in 2013, hiring employees dedicated to analytics and building systems to keep up with the fire hose of information being generated by digital and social channels, according to report by Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Yesmail Interactive.

More than two-thirds (68%) of marketers surveyed say they plan to increase spending slightly (48%) or greatly (20%) on data-related marketing initiatives in 2013; only 3% expect data-related expenditures to fall.

Moreover, 56% of marketers say they are planning to add new employees to oversee their data efforts this year. Among those marketers, 20% plan to hire data analysts and 5% plan to hire executive-level staff to oversee Big Data initiatives.

Below, additional findings from the report titled "Data-Rich and Insight-Poor: Marketers Planning to Turn Information Into Intelligence in 2013," based on a survey of more than 700 marketers who attended the DMA2012 Annual Conference and Forrester Research eBusiness Forum in 2012.

Big Data is Digital

Data captured from digital channels are typically easier to collect, apply, and measure.

Not surprisingly, nearly one-half (49%) of marketers* cite their website as the best source of customer data, followed by email (19%) and social-media channels (12%). By contrast, traditional channels such as direct mail (8%), telemarketing (8%), and print (1%) have taken a back seat as critical sources of data.

Also, most marketers use insights from customer data to inform digital marketing initiatives such as website campaigns (83%), email campaigns (72%) and social media campaigns (59%).

Other offline channels such as direct mail (47%), print (32%), and telemarketing (30%) are still in the marketing mix; however, the built-in metrics and tracking in maturing digital channels make the medium hard to beat.

Shift Toward Data Analysis

In 2013, marketers are moving away from simply collecting data, toward analyzing and applying insights, and they cite the following as their greatest data-related challenges this year:

  • Analyzing data: 25%
  • Applying insights: 20%
  • Cleaning data: 13%
  • Protecting customer data and privacy: 12%
  • Data collection: 11%

Data Application

The ability to target messaging across channels is a key benefit of Big Data. More than 6 in 10 marketers say they always (15%) or often (46%) use customer data to customize messaging by channel.

Even so, nearly 4 in 10 rarely (31%) or never (8%) customize their messaging based on data insights.

Social Data Becoming More Important

Marketers are starting to realize the importance of integrating data insights across all channels, including social media.

Nearly 8 in 10 marketers plan to make greater use of customers' social media data to drive marketing campaigns in other channels in 2013:

  • 42% plan to further integrate social data.
  • 36% plan to start integrating social data.
  • 16% don't plan on integrating social data.
  • 6% don't know how to integrate social data.

Growing Use of Real-Time Data

Companies are also starting to realize the need for real-time customer data flows to drive more personalized marketing campaigns:

  • 53% of marketers say they have already started implementing real-time data and plan to make greater use of it in 2013.
  • 11% are planning on using real-time data for the first time in 2013.
  • 19% are planning to consider using real-time data in 2013.

Other key findings:

  • Customer privacy: 60% of marketers say they plan to take additional steps to protect customer data and privacy in 2013.
  • Data hygiene: 47% of marketers say they perform regular quality control of their data, cleaning data monthly (23%) or weekly (24%).

*This question was fielded to 101 participants at the Forrester Research conference only.

About the data: Findings are based on a survey of more than 700 marketers who attended the DMA2012 Annual Conference and Forrester Research eBusiness Forum. Both events were held in the third quarter of 2012.

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Marketers Upping the Ante on Big Data in 2013

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image of Lenna Garibian
Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.