Marketers Feel Overwhelmed By Predictive Data Amid Struggle Over ‘Customer Experience’

The answers can be found in ‘Smart Data’ and greater personalization — but internal silos remain a hurdle, CMO Council says.

CMO Council's Liz Miller
CMO Council’s Liz Miller

A slim 5 percent of marketers express confidence in their ability to adapt and predict the customer journey in an efficient way, while 48 percent confess most of their analytics falls behind separate department walls and is not well aligned, a study by the CMO Council has found.

In a survey of 150 senior marketing executives across North America and Europe during Q4 2015 in conjunction with business software provider Pegasystems, marketing execs say they feel “overloaded” with predictive analytics and are largely unable to make that data actionable in a manner that makes connecting with shoppers easier for both sides of the transaction.

Data, Data Everywhere — And Not A Drop To Think

The results of the survey, Predicting Routes To Revenue, acknowledge the tremendous progress made in the amount of granular detailed knowledge of customers’ buying habits. And there’s also a significant level of depth when it comes to accessing consumers’ profiles. But CMOs, who should be able to own all that data find it too scattered throughout their organizations to make as much use of it as they wish, said Liz Miller, the CMO Council’s SVP of Marketing.

For instance, while 23 percent of marketers are able to develop predictive insights into broad customer trends, another 20 percent feel they are only able to predict the “next best action” and mostly find uncertainty when trying to move beyond that first step.

Delivering on brand promises is another area that appears to be lacking for marketers, as two-thirds of respondents revealed their success in this area is hit-or-miss, with 14 percent admitting they were completely missing the mark.

It all points to a “fundamental misalignment” of data sources, said Matt Nolan, Director of Product Marketing at Pegasystems.

“The integration of the data there is one of the trickiest parts,” Nolan said. “There are organizational silos that are built, but I think a lot of organizations are trying to break that down. One of the toughest parts about trying to do things like improve the customer experience and get into the real-time aspects is the integration of the data, which is called Customer Data Integration of the market. That’s connecting all the different aspects of a customer’s profile, identifying them accurately, consistently, and then, engaging with them contextually across the channels.”

Piecing together all the different data sources is inherently complicated, Nolan added. But once that’s done, brands can identify an individual act at the exact time of interaction. From there, they can assess the customer’s needs in the moment, and adjust the strategy for the context of that situation.

In a word: personalization and customer experience. And those represent additional levels of complexity for marketers, Miller noted.

Get Rid Of ‘Random Acts Of Marketing’

The challenges and opportunities are clear given the multitude of channels through which marketers can listen to and engage with customers. The top sources of insights into customers, prospects, and markets include visits to the corporate website (74 percent), sales data, CRM-based customer records (68 percent), and customer satisfaction surveys (57 percent), to provide a partial list.

All of those touchpoints, when taken separately, lead to a sense of randomness and a lack of priority at the marketing level, Miller said.

“Marketers are going to be looking to personalization a lot more deeply,” Miller said. “They’re going to also be looking to end the madness of these ‘random acts of marketing.’ It comes down to trying to tie together all of these points of experience and engagement. We’re going to stop looking at customer campaigns as if we’re just going out with these single moments in time.”

In terms of outlining priorities, the CMO Council and Pegasystems advise:

  • Adding more personalized experiences that are based on customer data (59 percent)
  • Expanding engagement channels to better meet customers where they want to engage (54 percent)
  • More completely aligning front-line resources (sales, service, in-store, support) to create exceptional experiences in any channel (45 percent)
  • Delivering real-time, relevant offers to optimize revenue (41 percent)

All of which paves the way for a better conception of what creating a solid, responsive, and satisfying customer experience is, Miller said.

“Customer experience isn’t just the website, it’s also when the customer picks up the phone to talk to someone in customer service; it’s when they enter the store to pick up something or browse,” Miller said. “It’s not just about that moment when you go in-store, it’s also about when you’re on social do you see something that’s highly relevant to you and then you love it and share it, right? It’s all those experience touchpoints that pull together and marketers are now really stepping out of their own little marketing bubble and are really beginning to understand that they need to get that data from across the org but they also need to deliver experiences across the organization.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.