Create a Data Strategy That Really Works in Just Five Steps
“I know my data could be better.” “Supporting my marketing initiatives with quality data is key.” “Our team is dedicated to maintaining our database, but it’s not easy.” Sound familiar?
As part of our fourth annual B2B Marketing Data Report, we conducted a survey of more than 500 B2B marketers to garner an understanding of the importance they placed on data management and what their priorities were for 2016. We also analyzed more than 695M contact records that were processed on our data optimization platform. What we found was that B2B marketers today suffer from a bit of “data delusion.”
Allow me to explain.
Mounting evidence indicates that B2B marketers understand how critical quality data is to their initiatives. For example, 75% of respondents say that accurate and complete data is critical for achieving 2016 marketing goals, yet the average health of all of those records we processed was “questionable” at best. And that’s not all…
- At least 75% of 695M+ contact records analyzed were lacking basic firmographic data – like industry info
- 62% of records analyzed did not include a phone number
- 41% of companies’ email deliverability rank as “questionable”
Those stats don’t exactly reflect a commitment to high-quality data. Clearly, there is a disconnect between what marketers say about the importance of high-quality data and what they’re actually doing to fix data quality challenges. Marketers are delusional if they believe they can truly move the needle for their businesses without addressing data quality first.
That being said, I fully acknowledge that there are a variety of reasons why data management remains a challenge. For one thing, marketers don’t have time to manually fix data – the volume is just getting too big for the manual workarounds of the past to be effective at the scale necessary today. What’s more, the variety of marketing technologies that modern marketers now employ makes it much more complex to ensure consistency in how data is managed.
When there are no defined rules (or consistent application of those rules) for bringing data from multiple systems (or multiple instances of CRM and/or marketing automation platforms) together, marketers seem to be throwing their hands in the air and accepting that their data has issues. To me, this is like sticking your head in the sand – and it has dangerous implications for growth-oriented companies. Scott Taylor, a self-proclaimed “Data Whisperer” and master data solutions expert here at Dun & Bradstreet recently said, “Good decisions based on bad data are just bad decisions you haven’t heard about yet.”
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “I get it, but what can I do about it?”
Well, there really is hope. There are ways to address these challenges and generate some quick wins for your team. Here are some tips on how to create a data strategy that works and is easier to implement than you probably thought…
1. Assess Your Data:
Chances are, it’s been a while since you’ve looked under the hood of your database. Before you start removing and/or appending contact records, perform a thorough assessment of your data. For example, does the current makeup of your database still match your target profile? Do you have the right data elements completed across all records to drive effective content personalization or segmentation? Evaluating the current state of your database allows you to gauge just how much elbow grease you’re going to need. You can start with a free Data HealthScan.
2. Standardize Data Entry:
Data from diverse sources often lives in different systems and formats, making it difficult to gain a single version of the truth. Therefore, it’s important that you standardize all data entry formats and requirements to ensure fields are complete and formats are consistent. Start by creating consistency in how data enters your systems. For example, use standardized pick-lists on your registration forms, which will ensure data is correctly formatted when it enters your marketing system. Better yet, use automatic data enrichment routines on the back end so you can focus your registration questions on buyer needs and preferences rather than company firmographics.
3. Cleanse & Enrich Your Data:
Undeliverable emails, inaccurate postal addresses and non-working phone numbers waste a considerable amount of marketing resources and degrade the overall performance of marketing campaigns. Append high-quality data to inaccurate or incorrect records, and remove contacts that aren’t your target buyers or don’t influence the sale. It’s easier than you think and a process that can increasingly be automated for you by a data management provider.
4. Maintain Data Continuously:
Effective marketing data management requires ongoing maintenance—it’s not a one-and-done affair. Records left unattended can rapidly become stale and inaccurate, so be sure to develop and deploy a maintenance program. SiriusDecisions recently reported that companies that employ consistent data hygiene create seven times the number of inquiries and four times the number of leads than those who do not.
5. Read the Report:
The first step is admitting you have a problem, right? Having a firm grasp on reality and an understanding of how marketing data drives the key trends in marketing today will help unite your team around the urgency of proper data stewardship. Seriously, who wants to throw time and money at projects that are not going to generate an optimal ROI?
Based on the findings of our report, I think it’s safe to say that marketers still need to make significant improvements to their data management. The good news is that with the right partners and little bit of elbow grease, marketers can still optimize their databases to garner game-changing results as 2016 continues to unfold. Check out some of the tools that are available today that will help improve your data quality and overall strategy.
Access the full report and utilize our findings to generate a revitalized strategy that will help your organization tackle your data challenges.