Data-driven decision making is the mantra of modern e-commerce marketing, yet new research from performance marketing firm Sidecar reveals that only 38 percent of e-commerce marketers surveyed make most of their decisions based on data. The positive is that other findings show that marketers do, in fact, seek to be more data-driven—45 percent want to devote more time to data analysis.
These findings and more are covered in the firm’s newly released 2021 E-commerce Marketer Survey, a study of professionals who work purely on e-commerce and digital marketing teams in retail across North America.
The report explores both the individual marketer and their teams. Specifically, the research dissects changes in skills, responsibilities, goals, challenges, success factors, processes, and hiring. It analyzes these factors in light of technology innovation, changing shopping behavior, an increasingly competitive landscape, and the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Future of work for e-commerce and retail marketers
The adoption of automation, AI, and other technologies will continue to transform the nature of work and the skills required to succeed. While a vast majority of respondents (86 percent) believe they are adequately trained and skilled, nearly all listed a new skill they wish to obtain to advance their careers. Those top reported skills were data analytics, performance marketing, social media, and SEO.
With respect to skills or training most valuable to marketers, respondents indicated skills that fell into three distinct buckets—technological (55 percent), cognitive (40 percent), and social (5 percent). These findings show that marketers are not threatened by technology. Rather, they realize the value of technology and want to control how they leverage it by honing their skill sets around it.
“Data-driven thinking will drive strategic thinking in 2021,” said Mike Farrell, senior director of integrated digital strategy for Sidecar, in a news release. “Experience and instinct play critical roles in crafting marketing plans, strategies, messages, and campaigns. At the same time, data and advanced analytics will underpin almost every marketing decision, including which marketing tactics to execute, and how, and for which shoppers. Data-savvy marketers will increasingly work alongside data scientists and analysts to generate insights into marketing opportunities and define approaches to capitalize on those opportunities. That includes ways to manage marketing mixes, ad channels, and budget.”
The impact of automation on e-commerce marketer skills
The survey found 62 percent of e-commerce marketers want to automate bid adjustments for keywords and products—the #1 task marketers wish to automate. Conversely, only 8 percent want to automate cross-channel strategy.
“Marketers want to use automation to solve data-intensive and time-consuming pain points,” said Mike Perekupka, director of product marketing for Sidecar, in the release. “However, automation can’t live in a set-it-and-forget-it silo. Marketers recognize the value of pairing automation with human experience and know-how, which is also why our survey findings show a strong emphasis on both data and instinct.”
Farrell added: “Advanced technologies require people who understand them, can build and innovate them, and ultimately use them effectively. Our findings suggest that marketers will increasingly build both technological and cognitive intelligence into their internal and external teams.”
Sidecar ran the survey in September and October 2020. Respondents include digital and e-commerce marketing professionals in the retail industry based in North America. The survey asked respondents their job title, which include associate, manager, director, VP, chief marketing officer (CMO), and chief executive officer (CEO). Respondents also selected from a range of company annual revenues, which span <$1 million to $10 billion+. The report segments the findings by job title and company revenue.