Big Data, Customer Privacy Top Challenges for Marketers

With brands fighting for the attention of the always-on consumer, organizations are now keen to optimize customer experiences, the report found.

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Customer experience optimization is becoming an increasingly critical discipline as organizations enter a new era of marketing, according to a survey of more than 600 companies worldwide by Econsultancy and Ensighten.

Nearly all (96 percent) surveyed companies deem customer experience optimization important, with more than two in five companies (41 percent) claiming that this is now a high priority for their organization.

With brands fighting for the attention of the always-on consumer, organizations are now keen to optimize customer experiences, as 94 percent believe doing so will result in higher engagement and conversion rates.

"A decade ago, only a handful of large companies, such as Yahoo!, were capable of collecting big data," Josh Manion, CEO of Ensighten, told eWEEK. "Fast forward to today, with the advancement in marketing technologies and the dramatic reduction in storage costs, companies of all sizes are facing big data challenges."

Data overload is one of the most pervasive issues marketers face today, however 66 percent also cited better brand perception as part of the resulting upside.

Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) often feel overwhelmed by the volume of incoming data, and a staggering 85 percent are unable to extract the full value from the data sources to which they have access.

Just three percent of businesses claim they have a strong capability when it comes to using cross-channel or cross-device data for either real-time website or mobile app personalization.

Less than a fifth of organizations are using a single customer profile (SCP) for most of their marketing applications.

By comparison, 37 percent of companies are using an SCP for a fraction of their applications and 45 percent are not making use of even a single customer profile.

Just over a quarter (27 percent) are able to turn all data into useful information and act on it. One in 10 businesses have tied together customer data from multiple channels, technologies and databases, according to the survey.

Seventy percent of companies are only just starting the process of data integration and admitted they have a long way to go in this area.

The vast majority of respondents (89 percent) are ensuring complete customer privacy as part of their customer experience optimization activities, second only to monitoring website performance (96 percent).

Around two in five organizations said they believe that their concerns regarding privacy are significant enough to prevent them from personalizing customer experiences.

"To fully balance the use of data for personalization and privacy, companies must remain transparent. The tech-savvy consumer is willing to sacrifice some privacy as a trade-off to the benefits of digital technology and personalized marketing, but under their own preferences and conditions," Manion said. "Consumers want to be informed about data use and have the ability to easily opt-in or out at any point in time."