At best, marketers are doing a "fair" job of handling the explosion of data in the space. That's according to newly published research from the DMA that found only about one-third of marketers felt they had a good grasp of dealing with data. Further, data analysis is also posing a challenge to marketing teams, with a scant 3% of respondents saying they felt their data is well-aligned.

The DMA's 2016 Statistical Factbook (SFB) also revealed that direct mail decreased almost 2% year-over-year while digital ad spending increased 17% in 2015. Another interesting data point from the fact book was only 29% of companies are collecting data from social media.

Neil O'Keefe, svp of CRM and member engagement at the DMA, put the results into perspective, as well as provided a deeper look into how marketers are handling the social media marketing channel, saying what stood out most to him from the fact book was the amount of marketers without a grasp on their data. He explained the CMO Council reports only 30% of marketers felt they were handling this aspect of marketing well, while 24% said either poor or very poor and 33% reported feeling poor or very poor at analyzing data for personalized experiences.

"This is a cry for help from the marketing community," O'Keefe said. "This is the future of marketing and the future is now. More marketers are searching our education to better train existing staff and DMA hears from hiring managers that more and more their target hire is a data scientist and not a marketer."

As data-driven marketing continues to take hold, it's crucial for industry professionals from all departments to polish up their quantitative strategies and skills. ...

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