(source : eMarketer.com)

Simple metrics such as demographics, geography most common for segmentation

Despite plans to increase personalization efforts, email marketers still struggle when it comes to using consumer data to successfully segment and target their audiences. A December 2014 study by The Relevancy Group found that US marketers relied on less advanced customer data attributes to segment audiences for email marketing campaigns.

General demographic and geographic data were the most common metrics used for segmentation, and the only ones used by more than 35% of respondents. Meanwhile, other easily measured data points such as email clicks and open rates were used less frequently—especially the latter—and most marketers were unable to leverage metrics beyond the email realm such as past purchases and spending habits.

One look at how marketers managed—or didn’t manage—customer data, and low usage of sophisticated metrics made all the more sense. Fewer than four in 10 respondents had a centralized data repository for their client data. Even worse, just 28% centralized customer data from across channels to create a single record for the customer, despite their desire for a 360-degree view of customer-brand interaction.

Predictive analytics—one of the most important parts of marketing automation, which drives better targeting and personalization—was among the least-used methods, while keeping data “clean” ranked lowest.

Issues with data tracking prevent marketers from leveraging customer data across channels. In a November 2014 study by Adobe for the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), less than half (46%) of digital marketers in North America said they utilized information from other channels when running email campaigns.

The good news is that marketers polled by The Relevancy Group planned to focus more on segmentation and targeting, ranking it the top email marketing priority for 2015. In line with this, greater use of analytics in order to optimize communications as well as centralizing customer data and making it actionable also landed among the top five priorities. However, responses for all three were still relatively low, at 35%, 30% and 29%, respectively, suggesting the need for improvement won’t die down all that soon.