Marketers Will Dig Deep to Dig Big Data Credit: Digging deep in big data image via Shutterstock

Any big-city kid will tell you it's tough drinking from a fire hose. Pity, then, all those marketers trying to drink in all those petabytes of consumer insight from the virtual fire hose of digital and social channels.  They've learned that all this data can't be digested on the cheap and now are preparing to dig deep in their pockets to understand this so-called Big Data streaming their way, a new study shows.

A study of more than 700 marketers showed that almost 70 percent of companies plan to spend more on data-related marketing initiatives this year, with a heavy emphasis on hiring. More than half the  respondents said they planned on adding new employees to oversee their data efforts this year, including analysts and executives.

The data was gathered by Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Yesmail Interactive, two data analytics providers, from marketers who attended the Data Marketing Association's annual conference and Forrester Research Business Forum.

The study found that that the Big Data trend will have a significant impact on corporate budgets in 2013, as marketers place a growing emphasis on analytics, real-time data and integrated multichannel marketing.

"When it comes to Big Data, hope is not a strategy," said Michael Fisher, president of Yesmail Interactive. "In 2013, brands should be taking a disciplined approach to building out their data operations. Data collection has almost been the easy part; the new challenge will be connecting the dots between different types of data across multiple channels. That’s really where marketers can get to know their customers on a deeper level."

The findings suggest that although most marketers have implemented data-collection tools, they will focus this year on putting technology and people in place to use their customer information in a more sophisticated and targeted way. For example, 45 percent of marketers identified analyzing or applying customer information as the biggest data-related challenge they will face this year. Only 11 percent said data collection will be their most difficult task.

"Companies should be going back to the basics and building a solid foundation for their data initiatives," said Don Patrick, president of Infogroup Targeting Solutions. "They should be investing in processes, people and systems necessary for implementing a data strategy driven by getting to know their customers on a deeper level. It’s critical to take a disciplined approach to putting all the right pieces into place."

Companies are also starting to realize the need for more timely use of customer data to drive more personalized marketing campaigns, the study found. More than half of survey respondents said they have already started implementing real-time data and plan to make greater use of it in 2013. Another 30 percent said they plan on using it for the first time or consider using it.

And almost 80 percent of marketers plan to make greater use of customers’ social media data to drive marketing campaigns in other channels in 2013.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.