The Customer Experience is Written in Data explores the growing role of data and analytics in marketing. With analytics capabilities falling behind the data available to marketers, organizations are dividing between those that recognize the importance of data analysis, and those that do not. This report, produced in association with Google, is based on a survey of more than 700 executives at organizations with revenues of more than $250 million in 2016.

To gain a perspective on where marketing is today and where it’s headed, respondents have been divided into two groups based on performance.  Leading companies significantly exceeded their top 2016 business goal and comprise roughly one-fourth of the sample. The remaining seventy-five percent are designated the mainstream for comparison.

Mainstream organizations tend to struggle with drawing actionable insights from data. Industry leaders are almost three times as likely to say that they take action based on recommendations from analytics than their mainstream peers.

Standing out as a point of difference between leaders and laggards is an understanding of the customer journey across channels; while an astonishing 90% of all marketers believe that understanding the cross-channel experience is “critical to marketing success,” only 43% of the mainstream report having a “clear understanding of customers’ journeys across channels and devices,” compared to 64% of leaders.

Key areas covered in the report include:

1. Risk aversion

Leaders are significantly less risk-averse than their mainstream peers.

In their marketing today, leaders are 65% more likely to report that “as a marketing organization, we are comfortable with risk.” Similarly, they are 70% more likely to say that as a business, “we are a quite open to change.”

2. Free and open internal access to data and analytics drives marketing success

Providing free access to data insights goes hand in hand with risk friendliness – an organization may not know where its non-marketing departments may go with the analytics, but there’s only upside in sharing.

Managers and executives interviewed for the report agree that marketing is too siloed. Insights and even basic marketing performance data are often not made sufficiently available.

Survey data supports the idea that open access to data and analytical insights across an organization is critical to success. Leaders are 57% more likely to strongly agree that open access to data leads to higher business performance, and are significantly farther along in providing access to analytics internally.

3. Successful organizations don’t treat data strategies as manuals – they incorporate them into the culture

But that’s not to say leaders don’t also document their data and analytics strategies in a structured manner. They are 35% more likely to have a documented data and analytics strategy, and 28% more likely to believe that strategy principles are useful for decision making at all levels.

The report examines 12 dimensions of digital analytics and data strategy, comparing adoption and performance.