Most senior marketing leaders are unimpressed by the results of their data analytics, despite prioritising their investments in the area in recent years.

That’s a key finding of the Gartner Marketing Data and Analytics Survey 2020 which also revealed that as a result only 54 per cent of marketing decisions are being influenced by marketing analytics.

The results suggest that analytics now joins personalization as a solution that has been oversold by the marketing technology industry which is struggling with retention as a sector, as its promises give way to unmet expectations.

Gartner says it wanted to better understand the current approaches to marketing analytics that support marketing strategies to enable future growth and success.

The survey results indicate that marketing analytics has not had the impact that marketing leaders expected.

“Though CMOs understand the importance of applying analytics throughout the marketing organization, many struggle to quantify the relationship between insights gathered and their company’s bottom line. In fact, nearly half of respondents in this year’s survey say they’re unable to measure marketing ROI,” said Lizzy Foo Kune, senior director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “This inability to measure ROI tarnishes the perceived value of the analytics team.”

Figure 1. Marketing Analytics Hasn’t Had the Influence That Leaders Expected. Source: Gartner (October 2020)

Marketers also cite poor data quality, inactionable results and the lack of clear recommendations as the top reasons for not relying on marketing analytics to make decisions. Another reason is that data findings conflict with their intended course of action.

“Confirmation bias plays a large role here,” said Ms. Foo Kune. “Marketing leaders often seek out data to help them make the case for a desired course of action or to show the value of their program.

However, marketers must understand that having data that conflicts with a planned course of action is valuable and presents a unique opportunity to further challenge controversial findings through experimentation.”

Other key findings from the Gartner Marketing Data and Analytics Survey 2020 include:

Focus More on Skill Development

Only 23 per cent of respondents said they prioritized spending time on skill development in this year’s survey, ranking lowest among all other analytics activities. This shows that analytics teams are deprioritizing skill development during a time where it may be needed most.

The report also reveals the areas with the most room for growth

Data science and campaign analysis are the top two areas where analytics has the most ground to make up in order to meet the expectations of senior marketing leaders. However, Gartner’s research finds that marketers are deprioritizing investment in these areas. Instead, investments are being allocated to web and mobile analytics and customer analytics, where marketing analytics teams are closer to meeting expectations.

Optimism Paves Way For Future Growth

Despite challenges in utilizing marketing analytics to make actionable and informed marketing decisions, investments in marketing analytics continue.

Year after year, Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey shows CMOs ranking marketing analytics as a top area of investment, with 73 per cent of respondents surveyed in 2020 planning to increase investments in the next fiscal year.

Gartner analyst Lizzy Foo Kune

Respondents of the Gartner Marketing Data and Analytics Survey 2020 echoed a similar optimism, with 44 per cent of respondents planning to increase their marketing analytics team size over the next two years; only 18 per cent expect their team size will shrink over that same timespan. Furthermore, 85 per cent of respondents feel that by 2022, “significantly more” of their organization’s marketing decisions will be based on marketing analytics.

“Marketing leaders are either optimistic about the future potential of marketing analytics or have invested too much to turn around now,” said Ms. Foo Kune. “Either way, there is still an opportunity for marketing analytics to deliver on senior marketers’ expectations and increase its impact on key business outcomes.”

The full report is available to Gartner for Marketers clients here: Marketing Data and Analytics Survey 2020: Optimism Perseveres as Results Fall Short of Expectations.

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