Marketers often walk the fine line between not collecting or analyzing enough information versus collecting “extra” data that’s of little or no relevance to your customers or marketing objectives. Even after obtaining relevant data, many marketers still struggle to keep their data clean, consistent and accurate. Data management is an integral part of B2B marketing and has a big impact on lead generation, nurture programs and growing your business.
It takes dedication and discipline to keep clogs out of your sales funnel and your marketing database healthy, but the cost of not doing so means lost opportunities, frustrated staff and an unclear view of your customers and prospects.
In assessing potential gaps in your marketing database management strategy, consider the following questions:
Is everyone in your organization aligned on the importance of data accuracy and what their responsibilities are in ensuring it?
Data entry standards must be clear and understood by all parties involved in viewing, inputting or retrieving your data. Naming conventions and taxonomies should be set in place before you start collecting data to ensure that all information is organized properly to ensure consistency, accuracy and easy retrieval.
It is also important to have definitions and meaning of fields agreed upon prior to inputting information in to your database. All parties should know and agree on your organization’s definitions for a MQL, SQL, etc. to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that semantics don’t cause issues.
Proper training for respective roles and the tools that are utilized are imperative for keeping your data accurate. Take the time necessary to develop and deliver proper training materials and implement checks-and-balances so that data issues can be identified quickly and corrections can be made sooner rather than later.
Do you periodically review whether you’re collecting, sharing and analyzing the right data?
It can be easy for marketers to collect too much data, which can clutter views and distract from your goals. Keep a clean stack of data and eliminate unnecessary information from your databases. The data you are collecting should support your ability to assess whether you are achieving your business goals and illuminate opportunities and issues, not create unnecessary work for your team.
In keeping your data clean, it is also important to remove duplicate data. Duplicates will skew your total counts and misrepresent personas or profiles. Ensure your data stakeholders understand how to properly merge duplicate data records and how to prevent duplicates in the first place.
Collaborative meetings with stakeholder teams regarding how they’re using data today can give better insight into what specific data fields need to be collected. Also ask what information they need that they aren’t getting and how that data contributes to reaching their goals.
Do you regularly review your marketing KPI data and have you assigned the right roles?
Create dashboard views to organize your data for easy analysis of trends and overall performance. Recurring dashboard reviews are necessary to align on actions suggested by your data and to identify opportunities and issues as soon as possible. As you create your dashboard, keep in mind what your KPIs are and which metrics are the best fit to measure performance on your objectives.
Establish data roles within your business hierarchy as well as corresponding data responsibilities within those roles. You can authorize certain roles to edit data and databases, while other roles might benefit more from read only views of your data. Ultimately, not every team member should necessarily need to access the raw data versions of your database. Distributing responsibilities accordingly helps assure that data is consistent, updated and being tracked accurately.
When instituting your data roles and responsibilities, remember to assign cleanup of anomalies to a knowledgeable resource on your team. Anomaly identification and investigation is an important part of keeping your data clean and accurate. Anomalies should be investigated immediately and fixed within your system as soon as possible.
Develop and apply data management rules. Establish who is going to manage your database, and when data inconsistencies occur, who is going to clean up and who is responsible for moving data to the appropriate people. Assign more than one person to a couple of tasks so that your data is thoroughly combed through and less likely to leave behind any dirty data.
Are you properly leveraging the data tools that you have and are there other data management tools that you need?
There is a wide range of data management tools available, ranging from those that focus on data hygiene, adding information to records or transforming data to match specific conventions. Consider where your weak points in data management are presently and assess whether an external tool can help you mitigate these weak points or if additional training or another approach may be better.
It’s also helpful to optimize inbound data via the right lead generation forms to get the right information in from the start. With that base, a great option is to then apply progressive profiling, an approach where when using your marketing automation platform you can collect additional information about an individual the next time they engage with your content. Implementing data-additive forms that recognize field entries and automatically append records with additional firmographic or demographic data is also a worthy consideration.
Do you have a data review, refresh and retirement practice in place?
When engagement is not seen for a long period of time, contacts should either be removed or inactivated. It is up to your data management team to decide what period of time makes sense to switch a customer account to inactive, and what period of time or action requires removal.
Customers or prospects know first of any information changes and are generally the best people to keep up with their own information. Consider enabling customers and prospects to update aspects of their profiles and needs. If that isn’t an option for your business, assign a team member or two to be responsible for timely and accurate contact updates.
Consider periodically verifying the accuracy of data with a select number of contacts themselves. Do this as you are periodically checking your database and be sure to select a different set of contacts each time to improve accuracy.
Relevant and accurate data is an absolute requirement for achieving your marketing objectives and broader business goals. Far too often, however, data management is prioritized lower than it should be for B2B marketers. An honest assessment of the data management questions above is a great place to start in determining whether you and your organization are doing everything that’s needed to assure and sustain a healthy marketing database that fosters success.