Neil O’Keefe is DMA’s SVP of Content & Marketing.

Neil O'Keefe of Data & Marketing Assocation (DMA)The key to a positive customer experience lies in personalization. According to a recent eMarketer report, personalization is viewed as incredibly effective, with 89% of U.S. marketers reporting that personalization on their websites or apps lifted revenues and 48% reporting the lift to be in in excess of 10%.

However, the key to good personalization is being able to know and identify your best customers. And that requires data. Quality data. Third-party data that creates a clearer picture of your best customer and the prospects that will allow your business to grow.

A recent UK study revealed that more than 62% of organizations still rely on prospect data that is 20-40% incomplete or inaccurate. In addition, businesses report that their CRM and databases are 10-40% bad records, 85% of the time. Data quality is a must and the alternative is very expensive.

In a recent SAS study published in Forbes, 57% of executives cite having a greater ability to target and optimize for specific customers as their primary objective in becoming more data centric. In addition these same executives stress the need to achieve consistency (omnichannel) across various channels. As customers come to expect a hyper-personalized experience, marketers and advertisers are focused on fully optimizing their third-party audience data, and they’re willing to invest in that optimization. The challenge companies are confronted with lies within their own organization. It’s a lack of data centricity. A 2016 study by the Data & Marketing Association and IAB shows that less than 30% of companies consider themselves extremely data centric and yet nearly 60% plan to be so in 2 years. Well, they have a lot of expensive work ahead of them.

Companies are spending significant sums on services and technology to assist with key data functions—more money than on the data itself. A key challenge to reign in these costs will be stronger budget oversight and increased focus on developing data talent that can rise to the occasion. The IAB Data Center of Excellence and the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) have released “The State of Data 2017,” a study showing that U.S. companies will have spent $10.05B on third-party audience data in 2017 for advertising and marketing efforts, while slightly more – $10.13B – will have been spent on third-party solutions to support its activation. Of the $10B+ being spent on third party solutions, it’s worth noting that over $4B is being spent on hygiene and improvements to data quality.

“The modern data and marketing industry is thriving because of customer relationships built on truth, results, and trust,” said Tom Benton, CEO, Data & Marketing Association. “This research demonstrates that modern marketers are strategically investing in solutions to ensure their third-party data is not only ethical and secure, but effective and accurate.”

Transparency and accuracy is not only key to quality data, but it is key to a quality customer experience and customer relationship.

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