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Use of big data frustrates customers just as it baffles many marketers

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Big data is proving a real challenge both for marketers and web analysts and for consumers, two new studies have shown. Many marketers have ‘no idea’ why big data may be useful to them, argues a report from Econsultancy and Lynchpin, while Experian QAS’ study highlights the frustration felt by consumers as companies fail to keep on top of their data.

Econsultancy’s report with web analytics business Lynchpin throws into focus the challenges marketers and web analysts are facing as they struggle to translate ‘big data’ into something meaningful. Many, it found, simply have no idea why big data might be useful to them.

Meanwhile, data management and data quality business Experian QAS finds that customers feel let down by current data management practices with problems caused as businesses struggle to keep up with the sheer scale of customer data and the pace at which it changes.

The two reports come just weeks after former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy spoke out about the growing importance of data to retail businesses. He said big data underlay the fast growth of Tesco during his time on its board and would be crucial to retailers’ prosperity in the future.

Just short of half (49%) of respondents quizzed for the sixth annual Online Measurement and Strategy Report, put together by Econsultancy and Lynchpin, found that big data would help them bring together different sources of information across their organisations. Some 16% said they thought it definitely would, while 33% responded with a more qualified yes, maybe.

Some 10% thought big data would not help, 8% agreed with the statement ‘big data is a pointless marketing term’ and 33% didn’t know. This is leading, the report found, to ‘strategic inertia in web analytics, with a fifth (20%) of responding companies having a company wide strategy to tie data collection and analysis to business objectives. That’s down from 20% who had such a strategy last year.

Lynchpin managing director, Andrew Hood, said: “The survey findings suggest that progress in extracting real business value from data is stalling. An optimistic view of that might be that the pace of technical change and volume of data available is simply outpacing an underlying real growth in the valuable application of analysis.

“A less optimistic view would be that a lot of fundamentals around alignment of data and resources with organisational objectives are still absent. And, worse still, that the expansion and diversification of the analytics technology sector risks throwing petrol on the fire, a rather scary alternative interpretation of the ‘data is the new oil’ cliché.”

Econsultancy senior research analyst, Andrew Warren-Payne, said: “With many companies still having a long way to go in using their current analytics tools to their fullest potential, the prospect of investing significant sums in further analytical technology (particularly those that process unstructured data of a variety of types and forms) is likely to be some time off.

“Many marketers have no idea why big data may be relevant to their organisation, or even whether it is a useful term.”

The report also found that 56% of companies now use Google Analytics as their only web analytics tool, while 11% are now paying to use the premium version of that tool. Some 78% of companies and 68% of agencies said tag management helped improve data quality. Some 49% of web analytics expenditure within companies is spent on staff, slightly less than last year.

Meanwhile, Experian QAS’ Caring for Customer Data report explored the problem as seen by the consumer. It found that while 84% of people think customers are the most important thing for a business to look after, 73% remember errors in communications from organisations in the last year and 47% are annoyed by inaccurate data. Some 37% worry what else may have been recorded inaccurately.

The study also found that the average adult had lived or worked at eight addresses for more than three months, 52% would rather share details of their sexual orientation than their mobile phone number, and that UK adults have an average of four email addresses and two mobile phones registered to them.

“The findings show that consumers are willing to share their data with organisations if they see a benefit in doing so,” said Joel Curry, managing director of Experian QAS. “It is therefore crucial that buinesses capture, manage and use data to effectively service their customers. However, the research also shows the importance of investment in data quality in order to improve customer relations, retain them, improve brand experience and ultimately increase customer base.”

Digitalbox chief executive Alex Attinger added: “We live and die by our reputation, with accuracy essential to our clients, their customers and email ISPs. It’s therefore important that we work to protect and add value to our data, which we see as a precious asset.”

Three steps to getting it right

Demonstrate the value to customers of sharing their personal data

If customers can see a clear and relevant benefit from sharing their data, they will be more inclined to share more of their data more regularly. The benefit must be both relevant and worthwhile to each consumer from their perspective, and consist of a simple exchange to redeem the incentive.

Ensure the accuracy of the data that consumers trust you with

Poor data management annoys customers, and undermines faith in an organisation, eroding brand trust and reputation. Ensure that consumer information is captured right first time and every time. Front-office capture software can help ensure that this is done effectively and efficiently.

Check for duplicate communications

They cost dearly, both financially and by turning off customers. Ensure that databases are de-duped and up-to-date by implementing a process of regular database cleaning.

Source: Experian QAS

For more information on the Econsultancy/Lynchpin report click here.

For more information on the QAS report click here and look for the Caring for Customer Data report. For an infographic, click here.

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