Jonathan Hulford-Funnell says regional differences and challenges are still affecting the cross-border marketer.
One of the major challenges of marketing a global business is dealing with local issues. Very rarely is there a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to everything and, if you are going to roll out any strategy effectively, you will always need to understand national sensitivities, laws and attitudes.
However, one of the key things that stood out to me in this year’s Digital Marketer Report, which surveyed more than a thousand senior marketing professionals from around the world, was that – despite the many regional differences – when it comes to digital marketing, at least, brands face similar challenges and share common goals.
According to the survey, the in-depth process required in setting up a true cross-channel strategy has meant that marketers are trying to overcome a range of hurdles to ensure they are reaching the customer with timely content, via the right channel. Across all respondents, the biggest challenge identified in the report is data-related – with the need to accurately link data to create a single customer view being flagged by 32% of respondents globally.
However, there is some divergence in local attitudes towards the scope of the challenge. In the UK, for example, this issue is seen as more of a barrier than any other, with nearly two fifths (37%) of UK respondents saying this was their top challenge, beating organisational structure (33%) and the company’s current technology (32%) into second and third. UK marketers are more likely to believe they understand customer behaviour and have a clear roadmap toward cross-channel success (with only 21% and 20% respectively identifying these as challenges) than the global average of 25% apiece.
Elsewhere in Europe, the picture is very different to the UK. In Spain, only 17% of respondents reported the same issue with linkage and the major problem was instead identified as the company’s current technology, with a very high proportion (42%) agreeing that it held them back. French marketers follow a similar pattern and are also more confident with their grasp of linkage, with 24% flagging it as an issue. Again, technology (38%) is the most pressing concern for French respondents.
Across the Atlantic and in Asia Pacific, we can again see that marketers are at different stages of development and meeting different challenges with cross-channel marketing strategies. In North America, the single biggest issue identified is organisational structure (38%), with Brazilian marketers following suit (34%). In Japan, marketers are confident in their technology, with only 9% seeing this as an issue. Conversely, an alarming 44% of Japanese marketers say that they are struggling to link data to create a single customer view. Meanwhile, respondents from Australia and New Zealand identify technology as the largest single challenge to their cross-channel strategy (35%).
The data quality issue is something that has come up time and time again, which perhaps unsurprising is given the vast amounts of data businesses now have to deal with.
Earlier in the year, another worldwide study found that many businesses are still having some real problems in getting their data to work for them. The Global Data Quality Research 2015 (which interviewed representatives of 1,239 organisations in the UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Australia and the Netherlands) revealed that the number of organisations who suspect their data might be inaccurate in some way had increased to a staggering 92%, up from 86% last year. The volume of inaccurate data is also rising. On average, respondents think that 26% of their total data may be inaccurate, up from 22% in 2014 and 17% in 2013, with 23% of businesses saying that revenue has been wasted as a result, an increase from 19% last year.
And, if we delve deeper into the findings and look at the impact this is having on a campaign level, the figures are even more stark. The Digital Marketer research found that while 90% of companies now conduct email marketing campaigns, a massive 78% have had deliverability problems in the last 12 months.
Unsurprisingly, the most common consequence of this problem has been poor customer service (34%), while almost 1 in 3 (30%) has encountered unnecessary costs as a result of email delivery problems. Similarly, 28% have lost revenue as a direct result of emails not getting through for one reason or another.
So clearly, businesses need to think carefully about their data strategy and figure out how to take the right kind of steps to ensure their digital marketing and revenue potential is not impacted. However, anyone who works in a global business will know that overcoming barriers like the data quality challenge is just one part of the process.
Cross-border marketing and local bureaucracy
Even when you’ve got your data into a state that it’s ready to utilise, secured the right technology to take your brand to market and figured out what how you want to engage audiences, the actual deployment of that strategy is almost always held up by local bureaucratic boundaries.
Each country has its own legislation and compliance barriers to overcome and this can be tough to deal with at the end of what is often a long, hard road. Businesses are increasingly getting confronted with this kind of regulatory battle, as the local legislation on the management and use of data assets is constantly being revised and redrawn. Perhaps this is unsurprising, as cloud-based tech is still new. This technology didn’t exist ten years ago and, in many ways, governments and in a broader sense, society, is still trying to come to terms with the best way to organise its use.
There’s currently no really obvious way around this, overcoming regional and national challenges is something which each company needs to tackle with a balanced and rational approach. However, what the recent research does suggest is that there is plenty of common ground when it comes to the many challenges we all face trying to do business in this data-driven world.
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