Challenges of Data-Driven Digital Marketing

Users around the globe produce nearly 2.5 quintillion bytes every single day. With each passing day, the pace at which data is produced and consumed is accelerating thanks to technologies like IoT. Interestingly, 90% of all the data under the sun was generated only in the last two years. Before examining the challenges before data-driven digital marketing, it is essential to understand these basic facts about data. While we need not struggle finding the number of zeros to be added to make it a quintillion, anyone losing sleep over this will find that the U.S. needs 18 zeros to make a quintillion while the UK needs 30 zeros. Now, let us leave quintillion alone and move on to data driven digital marketing and the challenges that lie before it.

Data is the Backbone of Marketers

Marketers rely heavily on data in the decision making process to understand consumer behavior and carve out marketing strategies. Understanding data collection is a significant area that will help marketers to figure out customer journey in a concise way and thereby enhance conversions which is the ultimate objective of all marketers. But, the process is riddled with challenges. Therefore, let us look more closely at some of these challenges and the means to overcome the challenges.

Getting Customer Centric

When you expect data to drive your marketing effort, it is important to learn more and more about the target audience and fish out new leads with the help of real-time and historical data. You should also effectively integrate such data across several platforms to achieve consistency in your marketing approach. The difficult part of this exercise is knowing your starting point and ways to use the data. A vast majority of marketers around the globe however reckon that evolving marketing strategies aided by data is a bit too complicated.

The task gets complicated when marketers spend lesser time deploying the data for identifying target audiences. Marketers need to get beyond performance metrics in order to evolve strategies and consider predictive data for developing personas and personalize.

A good starting point will be the overall objectives and goals of your organization and work backward from that point. Understand your key performance indicators and what data can help you achieve those. Remember that your goals are not confined to marketing and it should be aligned to the overall goals of your company and its stakeholders. In other words, you should be looking at the bigger picture breaking away from the silos of financial, marketing and customer service functions. The focus should be on a singular view of how your organization describes the customer and how it measures ROI to arrive at strategies for success driven by data.

Finding Key Performance Indicators and Right Data

Data should serve a specific purpose and it can become pointless otherwise. Every organization can track data or collect it, but the emphasis is on how it is used and how it is comprehended. If you cannot a meaning to the data, it would merely be numbers.

Once a strategy is evolved, you should track the data points chosen so that they contribute to your KPIs. Metrics should be in place to track the success of your strategy. Engagement rates, conversion and traffic constitute the most useful KPIs. You should also set a milestone to optimize and reevaluate how the strategy performs. To be there, the data items you choose should be the most actionable so that you can effectively track and activate them with a good degree of accuracy. You will also have to identify correlations, patterns and be able to measure ROI and success.

The Right Tools and Platforms are Important

It is important that you identify the right platforms and tolls to suit the needs of your organization. This will ensure that you have access to a ‘source of truth’ that you can rely upon. The platform you choose should be capable of taking all the data you can gather across every channel so it gets easier to comprehend what happens across the customer journey to carve out informed decisions from that knowledge. For some time now, many companies have been engaged in collecting large volumes of data. But, just about 10% of that data has the right structure for digital marketers to exploit. Timing gets into focus with further advancements in data collection. If you are keen on keeping pace with real-time insights, you must have platforms like DMPs, CMPs etc. for your programs on analytic tracking.


Your ability to consolidate the data you collect by analyzing and harmonizing it for the desired results will dictate the level of success you enjoy. This would also mean that you can integrate all platforms and systems together. Two thirds of marketers however state that improving the quality of data is the singular huge challenge encountered by them while attempting personalized messages to the target audience.  Quality of the data is a huge factor here and therefore you should always double check to ensure that the data collected by you is correct and identify factors that can potentially skew data so that you can eliminate them. This janitorial activity will ensure that you organize and report data consistently. More importantly, you should appreciate that challenges in comprehending and using data follows a scientific method.

Here are some pointers to go about the task:-


  • Start with the available data
  • Explore the information available
  • Build a hypothesis
  • Test the data through an experiment
  • Confirm that your procedure/test worked according to plan
  • Draw conclusions by analyzing the data
  • Present the results and design the way forward


Obviously, these are not tasks that can be achieved overnight. Similar to scientific experiments it can take several rounds of moving back and forth to configure your hypothesis. A series of testing may be essential before you see desired results, but that is essential for your marketing success.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.