Digital marketing technology can bring a competitive advantage, but only if companies have the necessary skills and culture to make the most of the opportunity it presents.

Many organisations have found it difficult to accurately value and implement emerging marketing technologies, but a new report from Econsultancy and Epsilon shows that organisations that have excelled in these areas are reaping the benefits.

The report, entitled Leading a Digital Marketing Evolution, splits companies into three categories based on their responses to a question about how they are affected by pressures directly related to digital.

The groups are defined as:

  • Leaders – the companies that are part of the change or disruption of their sectors.
  • Mainstream – the largest block of companies; they may not be winning the game, but they’re playing it and getting better.
  • Followers – those organisations that are not simply lagging in key areas of investment or evolution, but are lacking agreement and alignment about how to proceed.

The data shows that leading companies are far less likely to be confounded by data and far more likely to have tied their various applications into a cohesive, useful structure.

Nearly 40% of leaders agree that their digital marketing technologies empower everything they do.

When coupled with those who say that their technology empowers most of their activities, 72% of leaders see their technology as an enabler for success. This is true for only 41% of the mainstream.

At its best, technology makes a marketer’s life easier and expands their capabilities, letting them focus on their audience.

But for mainstream and follower organizations, technology is too often a barrier.

It’s a sign that companies don’t fully understand how fundamental technology is to the modern commercial relationship and it stands in contrast with a commitment to improving the customer experience.

Failure to take advantage of marketing technology

The report also explores the marketing technology cycle, revealing that despite the role that it plays in marketing today, relatively few organizations excel at the fundamentals of sourcing, implementing and utilizing technology.

This chart reveals a general weakness in taking advantage of marketing technology.

Not surprisingly, large organizations are most likely to feel pain from working with legacy technologies. Issues of missing data, data fragmentation and basic construction all confound easy integration.

Fortunately, a number of solutions are coming available that sit in between older systems, acting as translator and transit system for disparate data sources, but adoption is slow.

Taking advantage of existing data and technology is another area of differentiation for leaders, which may reflect their strategic focus on the customer experience. Fundamentally, a better CX is built on data and the tools to make use of it.

The Leading a Digital Marketing Evolution report, published in association with Epsilon, asks how and why some businesses excel and others lag behind. Using industry leaders for comparison, this report offers dozens of measures that marketers can use for education, benchmarking and inspiration.