Data Driven marketing is on its way to becoming the standard in all industries. A 2015 study by the Global Direct Marketing Association and Winterberry group found that 92% of surveyed marketing professionals believe that data will be an important factor in the future of marketing.

An early adopter of data driven practices, the retail industry is one of the most prevalent leaders in data focused marketing. According to a study by Forbes, retailers make up 37% of data driven marketing leaders and are 3rd only to two obvious selects: technology and telecommunications. More than half of retail leaders in the data driven marketing revolution agree that data based practices have helped them achieve a competitive advantage in customer engagement, acquisition and satisfaction.

Yet, still more than half of executives admit to being behind the curve when it comes to using data to draw actionable insights for their campaigns. There are many reasons this may be the case, but let’s touch on two of the forerunners.

Obstacle One: Data Siloes

siloed data, data integration

At some point in the history of the digital revolution someone realized that with such a huge influx of data, there needed to be a way to organize it – and the database was born. Unfortunately, that person didn’t talk to their counterpart in a different department who just had the same epiphany – and the data silo was born.

Data siloes are the biggest defector to the holy grail of CRM: the 360 customer view. Customers expect retailers to communicate seamlessly across channels, and the fact that in just one year marketers have had to optimize for 2.5 times as many channels as before doesn’t make things any easier. If your target market is millennials, prepare to account for at least 10 different channels in your campaigns. With so many necessary channels and multiple databases, a holistic customer view seems nearly impossible.

The first step to creating a clear view of your consumers is eliminating data siloes. Depending on the size of your company, this can be an internal assignment of integrating databases across departments and removing duplicate or outdated data; however, if you have more than a few hundred records- it’s probably time to call in some reinforcements.

A Data-as-a-Service company can do the dirty work for you by assimilating disparate sources and appending missing or inaccurate information. Once the data is cleaned, appended, and integrated you will need to put a plan in place to keep it that way. Automated data management solutions are a cost effective way to avoid needing another total data overhaul in the future. Although an adjustment at first, becoming accustomed to allocating a portion of marketing spend to data management will set your business up for success as data driven practices become the status quo.

Obstacle Two: Actionable Insights

data analytics

Customer data is only as good as the insights drawn from it. While many retailers are coming to terms with the need for data onboarding and management, there is still a massive chasm between collecting data and using it to the fullest advantage. An IDG survey found that “difficulty extracting insights” was the top data concern (42%) of marketers, and a CEB survey found that marketing executives depend on data for a dismal 11% of consumer related decisions.

One issue facing retailers is a lack of resources to  hire staff members to draw actionable insights from data. The data driven marketing revolution expanded so quickly that it’s difficult to find truly experienced talent, which leaves organizations vying for a limited pool of individuals. In order to foster a data-driven focus and make use of the troves of data coming in on a daily basis, many companies are looking to a new breed of C-Suite executive – the Chief Data Officer.

Experian’s report Dawn of the CDO, found that 61% of CIOs hope to hire a CDO within 12 months (surveyed in 2014). Retailers who are unable to bring a seasoned analytics team or CDO on board, both because of budgets and limited availability, are looking to Data-as-a-Service providers to shed light and provide concise next steps to power their marketing practices with data.

It’s safe to say in a decade, or even sooner, no longer will there be a differentiation between “Data Driven Marketing” and classic methods, but instead it will just be known as Marketing. I imagine there will be a Marketing 101 class in a futuristic college of the 23rd century reflecting on their marketing forefathers with disbelief, “You mean they didn’t use data to drive their strategic campaigns? How archaic!” Until then, industries must adopt a data driven focus in order to remain competitive in quickly evolving landscape.

To learn how to implement highly successful strategies used by today’s top data-driven marketers, download this free eBook.