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Chief marketing officers (CMOs) are increasingly leaning on marketing intelligence to better understand customers, but research from Forrester Consulting suggests they need to step up their efforts.

The research firm’s report commissioned by Velocidi found CMOs need to glean even more insights from customer data. Given the competitive landscape facing brands in many different industries, CMOs must look beyond transactional data and add attitudinal data to the mix. Building a closer relationship with their customers, engaging them and understanding the “why” behind their behavior are critical steps to getting a 360-degree view.

CMOs know they must do more

It’s not that CMOs don’t understand the value of marketing intelligence—they do. But many admit they aren’t yet getting the most out of data and insight.

Nearly half of respondents who use marketing intelligence experienced improved customer satisfaction, and almost as many saw improved customer loyalty and retention. But close to one-third of firms lack experience translating their data into insight and action, adequate reporting tools and sufficient staff.

Why Marketers Are Tapping Into Marketing Intelligence
Image credit: eMarketer

A major roadblock to implementing technology is a lack of adequate data science tools and applications, according to Forrester. Compounding these issues are poor infrastructure for data collection and a need for overall technical expertise.

Marketing intelligence must span the organization

Another significant barrier to getting more data from marketing intelligence efforts is many firms struggle to form cross-functional, collaborative organizational structures. Forrester found 74% of marketing firms have yet to establish a senior role such as Chief Data Officer or Chief Analytics Officer to lead their organization's marketing intelligence initiatives.

Instead, data is still controlled and applied by a select number of specialized, siloed entities within the organization, which means CMOs are getting low marks for their marketing intelligence prowess. Although the growing availability of data was meant to be a boon to marketers and help them improve campaign results, expand their capabilities and eliminate silos, the Forrester / Velocidi study found the opposite: they lack the tools and applications to get the most out of their campaigns.

To remain competitive and connect with consumers, CMOs need to transform their organizations with intelligent systems that are more than just a source of information, but a driver of insights and actionable recommendations, according to Velocidi founder and CEO David Dunne. Forrester’s research found 88% of firms believe reporting and analysis tools are important and 92% expressed knowing the importance of having easy access to all their media and customer data. Many firms, however, were far less likely to see advanced analytics or tools that enable data insights as significant to their marketing intelligence capabilities.

CMOS need analysis, not just access

Part of the problem may be marketers tend to prioritize access to data over data analysis. The Forrester findings suggest most firms understand they must bring marketing intelligence capabilities to bear, but still think of it as only a reporting dashboard or a source of information, rather than a form of insight generation.

The study found 69% of respondents identified “easy access to all media and customer data” as an extremely or very important component of marketing intelligence, but only 47% said the same for “tools to enable activation of insights.” Less than one-third cited “advanced analytic capability” as extremely or very important when it comes to marketing intelligence, and more than 60% said their current marketing intelligence tools take a more backward-looking view than forward-looking.

"Marketing leaders have access to the data, but must think beyond transactions for a more complete understanding of what drives customer decision-making."

Dunne defines marketing intelligence as “the ability to translate customer and media data into marketing decisions that grow a brand.” He says marketers must take charge of their marketing intelligence efforts by prioritizing data management and making advanced analytical capabilities widely available.

Marketing intelligence must move beyond transactional data

While it’s encouraging that CMOs are acknowledging the importance of marketing intelligence, there is, clearly, still a lot of work to be done in this space. Marketing leaders have access to the data, but must think beyond transactions and consider the attitudes, motivations and opinions of their customers for a more complete understanding of what drives customer decision-making.

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