Like many marketing terms, “integrated” sounds great as a concept, but can be hard to put into practice.   It depends so heavily on marketers’ ability to access and draw insight from marketing data.  A helpful report exploring the success and failure of companies to build their capabilities for integrated marketing came out of Integrated Marketing Week, presented by DMA and eConsultancy in June.

The State of Integrated Marketing Report 2013 is authored by Stefan Tornquist of eConsultancy and featured in a series of blog posts on the eConsultancy site. The report finds that even among companies spending more than $5MM per year on marketing, only about 20% have baseline data skills.  Only these few describe themselves as having the “current capability” in real time and integrated data, as well as having a single customer view. 

 The least-represented data skill sets, according to the study, are “gaining insights from disparate data sources” (or the better known term “big data”) and “unstructured data.”  That last finding reflects the difficulty in incorporating things like search keywords, web visits and social data – all unstructured – into customer profiles, which can then be used to target offers or create more custom, timely experiences.

Outlining seven top challenges marketers face to integrate their marketing efforts, the report takes into consideration the sophistication of each respondent, recognizing that our ability to use data responsibly and for higher ROI is a function of investment, talent, resources and attitude.

In the order reported by “sophisticated” companies, the report cites the following challenges:

  • Challenge #1 – Management Support and Resources
  • Challenge #2 – Cross-media Creativity
  • Challenge #3 – Unifying technology
  • Challenge #4 – Strategy
  • Challenge #5 – Unifying/Sharing Customer Data
  • Challenge #6 – International Issues
  • Challenge #7 – Unifying/Sharing Brand Assets.

In addition to these, DMA would point out an eighth challenge:  The exciting opportunities ahead depend on the responsible collection and use of data, but often what marketers think is cool, policymakers perceive as creepy.  To bridge this gap in perception, DMA created a policy speak translator to help make marketers aware of the threats to integrated and data-driven marketing.

The good news is that these challenges are not insurmountable.  In fact, the best way to combat all of these hindrances is through education and the implementation of best practices, which are essential elements of DMA’s mission to help data-driven marketers realize their full potential.

Today, technology has advanced to unify systems, tie data together and automate campaign management. Cross-channel creativity becomes easier to implement as media become more integrated, and content management solutions link more closely with campaign management and outbound messaging systems.  Savvy managers are becoming more aware of the importance of integrated marketing, which ensures the right talent, shared goals and data stewardship protections are in place

What are you doing to overcome challenges and make your data-driven marketing truly integrated for your customers?  Please let us know in the comments section below, and we may feature you in a future blog post.

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