Some 86% of marketing decision-makers consider predictive analytics to be critical or very important to their firm’s marketing objectives, according to a report [pdf] from Google and Forrester Consulting. The study, exploring the future of analytics, finds that while firms are making progress with their tools and capabilities, there is some room for improvement.
In the online survey of 750 marketing decision-makers, respondents indicated that they had experienced a variety of benefits as a result of their use of digital analytics technology. Most commonly cited was that digital analytics had improved the customer experience (43%), with about as many seeing improved marketing campaign outcomes (42%). Close to 4 in 10 also attributed an improved ability to understand the full customer journey (39%) to their digital analytics use, as well as an increase in how teams work together cross-functionally (38%).
Also mentioned as notable benefits brought about by digital analytics included improved ability to determine a next-best-action for a set of customers (37%), increased number of customers acquired (35%) and increased lifetime customer value (35%).
It’s not only these benefits that are convincing decision-makers to pay up for digital analytics technology. Almost 6 in 10 (56%) pay for such a platform because they require more advanced user management tools, while about half (51%) require access to exclusive features or capabilities. Some 49% require dedicated support, with a similar share with requirements for data freshness (48%) and data in general (47%) that exceed what is provided in free versions.
Digital Analytics Challenges
This is not to say that challenges don’t arise in the process of using digital analytics, both when it comes to data and tools. In terms of data challenges, the top issue cited by respondents was siloed data, managed by different teams across their organization (57%). This is a data challenge that doesn’t seem to be going away.
Other challenges include an inability to manage the volume of data (54%) and outdated data collection practices/tagging implementation that is not suitable (54%). Similarly, other research has found that B2B organizations are being challenged by the inability to connect and analyze data across applications and platforms.
Concerning tools challenges, almost 6 in 10 respondents have had trouble with analytics tools that don’t surface insights easily (56%). Some 55% have faced an inability to manage the freshness of data, with around half (52%) citing a lack of customization to their business’ needs.
Room for Improvement
Though respondents value the various features and capabilities of analytics technology roughly equally, predictive analytics appears to the most important, cited by 44%, almost matched by flexibility and customization (43%), integrations with existing technology stacks (43%), cross-platform/cross-device (42%) and ease of implementation and onboarding (41%).
Interestingly, there are gaps indicated by respondents between the analytics tools that are more critical to their marketing objectives and the perceived effectiveness of those tools. For example, the joint-most critical tool, predictive analytics (84%), presented the second greatest gap (39%) between how critical it is felt to be and how many feel it is effective (47%).
Cross-platform analytics presented the largest gap between importance (84%) and effectiveness (44%), while website analytics saw the smallest (86% vs. 55%).
Nonetheless, respondents appear to be aware of the many attributes of digital analytics technology that increase their willingness to consider a new or upgraded version. For the largest number of respondents (50%), the most appealing attribute is the ability to unify user behavior across platforms and devices in a privacy-safe way. Per previous research from Advertiser Perceptions, achieving this single customer view across platforms and devices is a leading reason marketers employ a customer data platform.
A further 47% would consider a new or upgraded version for durable and reliable measurement that will remain effective as industry standards evolve.
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