Data disconnect: marketers struggling to understand their customers

Despite increased sophistication in how data is being collected and used, new research by Callcredit Information Group has revealed that marketers are struggling to really understand their customers’ needs and expectations.

Whilst almost two-thirds (65%) of marketers believe that smart marketing has helped them outperform the competition, the ‘So you think you know your customers?’  report revealed that marketers may not have as clear a view of their customers as they think. In fact, 47% of marketers believe that more than half of their customers have a very high understanding of how companies use their data. But in reality, less than one in ten (9%) consumers feel this way.

The research uncovered a number of further significant differences in what marketers believe customers think and what they actually do. Three in five marketers (61%), for example, think that consumers are frustrated with the way businesses access and use their data. In truth, fewer consumers (52%), although still a large number, say they are exasperated with this.

Similarly, a majority (81%) of marketers believe customers have become more selective about whothey allow to access their data. Whilst the number of consumers (62%) who have become stricter on this is significant, it is lower than marketers think.

This disconnect is leading to missed opportunities and ineffective marketing efforts. Whilst almost half (47%) of consumers have become less likely to respond to promotions, for instance, just 30% of marketers have taken note of this trend.

Steve McNicholas, Managing Director, Credit and Marketing Data, Callcredit Information Group, commented: “With truly data driven businesses having the competitive advantage in today’s digital environment, marketers must – first and foremost – ensure that they really understand their customers’ data expectations. Without this insight, no matter how smart their tactics, marketing strategies will fall short of expectations.”

When comparing this year’s (2017) responses to those asked in Callcredit’s ‘The Data Dilemma’ report last year, it’s evident that marketers are using a growing number of data sources to inform their decisions. The use of internal sources such as CRM and marketing data, for example, has nearly doubled in usage – from 37% in 2016 to 67% this year (2017). Interestingly, one in five (21%) marketers still see providing clear directives based on customer data insights as their biggest challenge.

McNicholas continued: “One of the main reasons marketers don’t have as clear a picture of what their customers think, is because the growing number of data sources is making it difficult for them to determine what data is useful and what is not. There are a number of steps marketers can take to overcome this problem, including setting up a preference centre to ask customers how they want to be marketed to and figuring out what data actually improves the effectiveness of their efforts. As understanding their customers will become even more critical for businesses once the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect later this year, the time for marketers to get smarter is now.”

To find out more on Callcredit’s seven tips on how marketers can get smarter and improve their understanding of customers, download your free copy of the ‘So you think you know your customers?’ report.

200 marketing decision makers with responsibility for customer insight completed an online survey in September 2017. This was supported with an online survey amongst 2,004 UK consumers. The research was conducted by London-based research agency, Loudhouse.