Marketers rely on "hunches"

02 April 2013

NEW YORK: Only a quarter of firms are currently making the maximum use of "marketing science" to inform their decisions, whereas many of the rest rely on "hunches", a multimarket study has revealed.

IBM, the services provider, polled 358 executives in Australia, Canada, India, the UK and US, and found 23% thought their firm was "highly effective" at uncovering insights that generated additional business value.

A further 25% had built similarly-strong capabilities when it came to identifying and capturing new markets, while a slightly greater 32% were excelling in the area of engaging with individual customers.

Given that two-thirds of marketers believe return on investment will be the primary measure of their success by 2015, these figures will need to rise quickly, IBM argued.

"In this world of big data and tight budgets, marketers everywhere need a more systematic way of capturing and analysing data, unearthing insights and using those insights to improve business outcomes," its study added.

Overall, just 23% of organisations were described as "marketing scientists", defined as those businesses making advanced use of analytics to drive change in their internal and external activities.

An additional 37% were "constrained analysts" that have "limited strength" in terms of employing analytics and modelling in a prescriptive way, or applying this information in the marketplace.

The largest number of organisations, some 40%, fell into the category of "traditional marketers", or operators that are "venturing" into analytics, but lack any meaningful expertise.

In demonstration of this, an 82% majority of enterprises within this cohort still largely rely "on hunches and experience" when implementing insights.

By contrast, 50% of "marketing scientists" utilise insights to shape how they engage customers, while 49% base their decisions on data, and 47% effectively share information across their corporate functions.

"To treat marketing as a science, every marketer must become a scientist of sorts - curious, willing to experiment and systematically test new concepts," the study said.

"Even if you're a consumer rather than a producer of marketing science, each marketer must develop an appetite for scientific insights, know how to interpret and use them, and, perhaps most important, be willing to change how decisions are made."

Data sourced from IBM; additional content by Warc staff