With exponential improvements in technology over the last few years, it is an exciting time for marketers. 

But all that advancement creates a number of challenges, too. So much so that 68% of marketers believe the job is more stressful than it was five years ago.

As part of our report titled ‘Marketing Pain Points and How to Overcome Them’ in collaboration with SmartFocus, we surveyed more than 500 client-side marketers earlier this year to find out what their pain points were. 

To follow on from Bola Awoniyi's post yesterday about remedies for marketing pain points, I wanted to focus specifically on the challenges that stem from data.  

Once deemed an optional extra, the gathering, mining, manipulation and understanding of data are all considered to be staple activities of almost any marketing team. 

In the tag cloud below, the size of the word represents the frequency of mentions when respondents were asked: ‘What is the single challenge that causes you the most pain in your job?’ 

Marketing pain points word cloud

As you can see, data was mentioned more frequently than any other issue.

The most common challenges

The chart below highlights which specific data challenges were the most common for respondents. 

Common data challenges

Marketing attribution was the most common, with 48% of respondents citing this as a pain point. 

This is hardly surprising. For marketers struggling with multiple data sources, understanding the value of each different marketing channel’s contribution is always going to be a challenge. 

Another key point that came out of the survey was around the difficulty in extracting actionable information from data.

The second and third most common data challenges for respondents were ‘turning data into insights’ (47%) and ‘turning insights into actionable segments’ (45%). 

This suggests that, while marketers are spoilt for choice when it comes to collecting data, they are still struggling to create meaning from it.

The most painful challenges

The survey didn’t only look at the most common data challenges, however. It also asked people which challenges caused them the most pain, asking them to rate issues from one to five (with five being the most painful). 

The data challenges most likely to be rated four or five on the pain scale were ‘moving data between systems’ (74%) and ‘gaining a single customer view’ (69%). 

The chart below highlights the top ten most painful data challenges.

Painful data challenges

As you can see, the majority of these pain points seem to stem from organising and making sense of the sheer volume of data companies are collecting now. 

Coping with overwhelming volume

From CRM systems to web analytics, to social media activity and third party sources, companies have no problem collecting data.

As a result of this, however, many marketers have been left with far more data than they know what to do with. 40% of respondents said they were struggling with multiple data sources. 

Multiple data sources

The key to confronting such a daunting amount of data is to first define what you want to get from it. Going into the process knowing what you’re looking for is far more productive than wading in blind. 

When it comes to analysing large and complex data sources, however, the job ultimately needs to be managed by technology.  

The requirements for such technology will vary from one business to another, so it is up to marketer to work with other stakeholders to assess current and future data needs. 

A clear strategy aligned to business objectives and supported by technology will lead to better data management and insights. 

Conclusion: finding quality in quantity

It is clear from the above statistics that marketers, while happy to have access to such a huge volume of data, are struggling to turn it into something they can actually use to help their business. 

We can only expect this to become more of an issue as technology continues to evolve and data becomes even more widely accessible. Any marketers that can make sense of all that data will have a significant competitive advantage in the coming years.

To find out more please download the ‘Marketing Pain Points and How to Overcome Them’ report, which is FREE to download for all subscribers.

Jack Simpson

Published 25 June, 2015 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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