In spite of having multiple tools deployed for both audience definition and audience management, nearly half (44 percent) of marketers place themselves at just a “basic” level of audience management maturity, reveals new research from performance marketing agency Merkle, in collaboration with MarTech Advisor.

The new report, State of Audience Management Maturity Report, also found that over 60 percent of marketers use customer relationship management (CRM) tools, email service providers (ESPs), marketing automation platforms (MAPs), and marketing clouds to manage audience data.

“In our role as strategic marketing advisors, there’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace around audience management,” said Matthew Mobley, chief technology officer at Merkle, in a news release. “We wanted to conduct a study to better understand audience management perceptions and practices across enterprise-level marketers at varying stages of audience management maturity. We believe these insights will help to clear the confusion and allow marketers to truly leverage customer-centric strategies supported by the right processes and tools.”

How marketers can improve their audience management maturity

“We get frequent reader feedback about confusion surrounding audience and customer data management in the complex multi-channel environment,” said Chitra Iyer, editor-in-chief of MarTech Advisor, in the release. “With this study, we wanted a reality check on how marketers balance the strategy, execution and technology elements of audience management, and connect that to implications for marketers who want to get it right.”

The report indicates that there is a progressive trend to move toward more first-party data-driven audience management as well as a more balanced adtech and martech approach.

How marketers can improve their audience management maturity

Additional survey findings include:

  • 23 percent of marketers only have access to anonymous (device or cookie level) data and 7 percent use only cookie-level data. 41 percent and 29 percent claim access to individual and account level data, respectively.
  • 56 percent of marketers classify their current approach to audience journey management at a “pre-built static level.” 22 percent claim they have either machine learning and AI-powered “next best action” or “no journey mapping at all” to inform campaign messaging.
  • 15 percent of marketers say that consent is poorly integrated into their audience management.

The report also outlines key takeaways for marketers redefining their audience management strategies, including evaluating the customer journey and data sources, and choosing the right partner to build and execute these customer-centric, scalable experiences.

How marketers can improve their audience management maturity

Download the full report here.

In collaboration with Merkle, MarTech Advisor researchers conducted in-depth telephone interviews about current audience management practices, tools, and outcomes with 102 senior marketing professionals (VP, director and above) of enterprises with $100 million and above in annual revenue. The respondents were spread across industries, from education to automotive, healthcare to agriculture; served both consumer and business customers; and are all primarily based in the United States of America.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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