The importance of data to modern marketers is undeniable, but most data that exists today is unusable. That’s according to dotmailer, that found the challenge for marketers now is not data access, but determining which data is useful to analyse.

The dotmailer ebook, Your pathway to smarter email automation, suggests most of it isn’t. The report found 80 per cent of the exponentially increasing amount of data is “unstructured”. And while the unstructured data can provide insights it is unable to be leveraged at scale because it cannot be catalogued or stored effectively.

Download: Your pathway to smarter email automation

Marketers are, understandably, somewhat overwhelmed by the level of unstructured data, according to Rohan Lock, dotmailer regional director, APAC.

“With over-collection of unstructured data, it’s no surprise that marketers are growing frustrated instead of being empowered,” Lock said.

“In light of this, it is crucial to have metrics based on accurate data in order to succeed in any automation program. Moreover, while volumes of data are increasing exponentially, the gap between structured or usable data and unorganised data is widening quickly.”

Use the right data

The abundance of data means it is vital marketers only collect and use the right data. This will vary depending on organisation and task but Lock says a good guide is to consider whether or not the information being collected “adds real value to the decision making”.

Rohan Lock, dotmailer regional director, APAC

Data collection will also improve as systems mature. Modern data systems are increasingly improving in respect to data creation, tagging, and usage, dotmailer says. Consequently, “the percentage of truly unusable information is set to decrease”.

But the sheer amount of data will continue to rise, meaning analysis and data driven actions can no longer be achieved manually, according to dotmailer. The other side to that coin is the potentially huge benefits of automating campaigns.

“The challenge for marketers is that because we are operating in an ever faster and more integrated multichannel environment, it’s no longer possible to keep your finger on the pulse of what makes customers tick without outstanding data to support decision-making,” the authors write.

They argue the power of a good data platform “comes from being able to overlay behavioural and preference elements that will build up a picture of the customer as a person, rather than a set of facts”.

Once those insights are captured, campaigns can be developed and automated accordingly, according to dotmailer. The ebook sights figures from online retailer Science in Sport which increased its year on year online sales by 73 per cent and open rates by 105 per cent after building customer profiles which linked email activity with purchasing data.

Ecommerce’s biggest challenge

According to dotmailer, the biggest challenge for all ecommerce retailers is differentiation. In an increasingly crowded marketplace and with barriers to entry falling, “cutting through the nose is crucial”. The abundance of buying options and customers “short attention spans” means it is now incumbent on online retailers to deliver outstanding, seamless customer experiences.

And as the gap between customer experience leaders and the rest widens, consumers will arguably not tolerate anything less than an excellent online experience. According to dotmailer, delivering that experience relies on the underlying data systems.

“If your own data journey isn’t seamless, then the chances of your customers experiencing a seamless journey as they pass through your different systems will be significantly reduced,” the dotmailer authors write.

“Today you need a system that can recognise and predict future customer behaviours based on their preferences and previous actions.”

Automation platforms are a powerful tool for online retailers, according to Jade Hardy, digital marketing coordinator at Caruso’s Natural Health. The company uses the dotmailer platform to automate email and social campaigns. She told Which-50 she was encouraged by the early results.

“What we’ve seen as a result in just six months is thousands of people receiving automated yet personalised content,” Hardy said.

“Really all we had to invest into it was setting up the programs themselves and we’re just monitoring the results and tweaking it if necessary. It’s really just cemented the fact that automation is such a powerful thing.”

According to Hardy, automation is also freeing up resources and contributing to the company’s overall transformation.

“When you’re talking about trying to achieve massive digital goals, you don’t want to be spending hours and hours going back and forth [with a manual system],” she said.

In addition to the resource savings, an automation platform can also unlock new customer insights – a critical requirement to deliver personalisation at scale, according to dotmailer’s Lock.

“Ultimately, the more information you hold about customers, the more you can develop rules-based automated programs that are designed to make customers feel valued and enjoy their journey with you,” he said.

Developing those personalisation capabilities now puts organisations in good stead as new technology emerges and ecommerce ecosystems become more integrated, according to Lock.

“Tools like personalisation and artificial intelligence are going to be vital in differentiating one retailer from another.”

Download: Your pathway to smarter email automation

About The Author

Joseph Brookes is a writer for the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit, of which dotmailer is a corporate member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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