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Andrew Jones of VentureBeat Insight recently released a report entitled Identity and Marketing: Capturing, unifying, and using customer data to drive revenue growth. For the report, Jones surveyed 500-plus marketers and spoke to 27 brands directly about their level of knowledge and data specific to customer and prospect information. While the report is quite robust, one chart immediately catches the eye: It highlights the potential for marketing automation to improve over the next few years (which is great news for marketers, considering how well it already works).

The chart is below:

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 5.01.15 PM

The glaring trend top to bottom is how low the percentages are:

  • Location – 41 percent
  • Social profile – 22 percent
  • Lifestyle information – 15 percent

Let’s just focus on email for the sake of brevity and say a company is looking to drive qualified leads, sales, and upsells via their email list. By not knowing the location of 59 percent of your email list, there’s a better-than-average chance you’re not sending emails at the right time, according to MailChimp data:

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 5.08.56 PM

Above: MailChimp data on email opens by time of day.

In looking at the percentages for Social profile (22 percent) and Lifestyle information (15 percent), not knowing that information will severely inhibit your opportunity to personally segment emails, which again, using MailChimp data, will negatively affect performance:

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 5.11.52 PM

Above: The effect of personally segmented emails, according to MailChimp.

More times than not, marketers see a trend like marketing automation take off and then worry they’ve missed the boat. From what the data suggests about how much personal information companies actually have on their prospects/customers, worry not — there’s still a long way to go, and there’s plenty of time to catch up this year.

Check out VB’s report Identity and marketing: Capturing, unifying, and using customer data to drive revenue growth
$99 on VB Insight, or free with your martech subscription

So what is needed to improve marketing automation ROI? In Jones’ report, hundreds of marketers were asked what the most important factor was for increasing the ROI of their marketing automation. The seven responses included:

  1. Unify existing customer data
  2. More relevant content
  3. Cross-channel message coordination
  4. Increase accuracy of customer segments
  5. Better attribution data
  6. Additional headcount
  7. Other

We’ll exclude answers 6 and 7 for this article and focus on 1 through 5. Every marketing team wants to improve #1 and #5 — that’s no secret. The takeaway from this list, though, is the inability for marketers to improve #2 through #4 (marketing production) in a meaningful way without #1 and #5 (internal data) as a core competency. Marketers can always find ways to send more emails, run more tests, and improve cross-channel communications, but without current, detailed customer information that can be applied to campaigns, the disconnect between internal data and marketing production will leave teams unable to produce the consistent results and growth that management needs.

Dan Slagen is VP of marketing at, an insights engine for marketers and designers.

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