Analytics from your website and landing pages. Social media metrics. Lead scoring calculations. Behavioral, demographic, and firmographic data. Information pours into your marketing department in a torrent, and without a way to channel and organize it, data can quickly overwhelm even the most astute marketers. Here’s how to get your data into shape, creating an orderly garden instead of a chaotic thicket, with the help of database services and a strategic approach.
Get It Together
If your data is scattered across multiple siloed systems, it’s far easier for it to grow into an unmanageable monster. Tame the beast by putting it into a habitat of its own, such as a marketing automation system that syncs with your CRM and sales history so all your information is available in one place. Storing data in different departments doesn’t allow you to get the top-down, unified customer view that makes it possible to give seamlessly excellent service from the moment a lead first encounters you to their most recent buy and beyond.
How fragmented is your data? That probably depends on your industry, your technology, and your company’s history. Some database managers may find they have relatively little data migration to do with just a few siloed software systems. Others, particularly large companies, might have dozens of data silos. The more divided your data systems are, the less control you have over them and the more work you have to do to see the bigger picture. Centralize your data, and then you’re better able to systematize it.
Establish Good Data Habits
Breaking down silo walls is a challenging task, and it feels satisfying when you and your marketing database manager complete it. That doesn’t mean the work is done, though. Taming your data isn’t a one-time solution but an ongoing process. You and your data manager need to implement data quality standards and take a methodical approach to how your marketing automation system handles incoming information. Establishing protocols for incoming data helps keep your database orderly and cuts down on invalid or erroneous information.
Speaking of which, there’s a solution for that too: data hygiene. Your marketing data management consultant can also set you up with a data hygiene schedule that will keep your database in good shape. Just as your computer, phone, and other devices need periodic updates to maintain security and run efficiently, your database needs regular attention for optimal performance.
How do you know your data quality is high? Validating your data is an essential step in ensuring the best information quality possible. Errors are inevitable even when leads enter their own data – maybe even especially when they enter their own data. Estimates of self-entry data errors range from 2 to 8 percent, and it’s easy to transpose a digit or forget a letter in an email address. Even a small data entry error can stop your leads from getting information they want or make a marketing message miss.
With marketing automation, data validation can be baked into online forms, giving leads a safety net that catches errors before they make it into your system. For example, ZIP and ZIP+4 codes are either five or nine digits long. An entry of any other number will result in an error message. Street addresses, phone numbers, and other contact data can also be checked for accuracy. You can even set data collection rules that determine the kind of information you collect – requiring a business email address instead of a personal one, for instance.
Data is only as valuable as the utility you derive from it. With database management that tames your wild data, you get the full value of everything you learn about your leads and gain a major edge over the competition.
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