And 2019 was no exception. In our annual Digital Trends report, more than one in five (21%) of B2B marketers indicated that data-driven marketing was the single most exciting opportunity for their organisation in 2019, more than any others. Twelve percent of B2C marketers felt the same, below only content marketing and customer experience.

But what exactly do marketers mean by data-driven marketing? What data are they using – and for what?

To find out, Econsultancy, in association with Oracle, recently held roundtable discussions in Jakarta, Indonesia. At the Data-driven Marketing table, moderated by Isman Pepadri, Trainer, MarkPlus, attendees discussed how they currently use data in their marketing, what is working well for them and what challenges they still face. Below is a summary of what was said on the day.

Third-party data is needed, but is often not fit for purpose

Attendees began the day talking about outside, or third-party, data which marketers use to improve their marketing effectiveness. Participants felt that third-party data remains one of the best ways to identify potential customers and target advertising and provide special offers accordingly.

One delegate pointed out, though, that most third-party data is industry specific and rarely matches the exact need of the company. For example, a high-end watch brand may buy third-party data to identify people who are ‘in market’ for their products. all that is available is data for people shopping for ‘luxury goods,’ which could be anything: Cars, fashion, jewelry or even travel.

Marketers, the table concluded needed to be diligent to ensure the data they were using was relevant for their requirements.

Marketers should use a wide variety of criteria to choose third-party data vendor

When shopping for third-party data, marketers need to review providers carefully.

First off, they look for companies which have experience with brands within their categories. One participant said that many third-party data providers have data about shoppers in their category, but relatively few have worked with customers in their industry.

Additionally, said another attendee, marketers should also review case studies to make sure that the provider has a history of success. This is especially important when proposing the purchase of third-party data to people outside of marketing, who need to be convinced that third-party data will actually help grow the business.

Finally, marketers must ensure that providers are able to support them in the region. Local contacts and operations during Indonesian business hours were named as two things which were particularly important for marketers.

First-party data is usually better than third-party data

While third-party data is important, delegates agreed that first-party data tends to be more useful. First-party data sources which marketers find valuable include CRM data for audience building, sales history for segmentation and behavioural data for website and ecommerce efficiency enhancements.

Marketers find first-party data more useful overall, said one attendee, because typically it has been audited by an internal data team and so it is more accurate.

First-party sales data, for example, is used throughout the organisation and even presented to shareholders. Because it is so critical to the business, it will usually be cleaned and extensively verified.  No such safeguards for third-party data exist, as far as anyone was aware.

But even first-party data presents challenges

Many participants felt that customer behaviour data had improved significantly because of digital and many marketers said that they used online channels such as Facebook and Google exclusively for marketing campaigns.

While it is good for measurement, though, customer behavioral data also presents new challenges, said one delegate. Despite tracking customer actions from ads to website to conversion, they still find it difficult to identify which channels customers use to become aware about and research products and services.

Most admitted that the reason for this is that marketers still don’t fully understand the customer journey.

Marketers are still looking for solutions to their data-driven marketing issues

Participants said, though, that they were actively looking for ways to use data to better understand their customers.

One attendee said that they were currently shopping for a service which would help them analyze their channel data so that they could figure out which channel provides the best contribution to business objectives. Such a solution would help them increase investments both in first party behavioural data as well as third-party data for targeting ‘in market’ customers.

Others said that they were looking for more comprehensive analytical tools which would help them understand which content was driving engagement across channels.

Overall, participants were upbeat about growing data-driven marketing on their team, but few said that they were satisfied with the results yet.

A word of thanks

Econsultancy would like to thank Isman Pepadri, Trainer, MarkPlus for hosting the Data-driven marketing table and our event host, Oracle.

We would also like to thank the marketers who took time out of their busy schedules to provide us with insights about the current state of data-driven marketing as well as some of the obstacles they were facing. We hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events!