Data is at the heart of everything that modern marketeers do. After all, without clean, accurate and complete data, all the amazing features (CRM integrations, ROI reports, automated campaigns etc.), the best email design and the most fantastic stories in the world are useless with no one to tell them to.
All the great functionality available through numerous systems and more fundamentally the success of marketing efforts revolve around the data in your database. Here are five tips for keeping your data in order:
- Keep it clean
The heart of marketing automation and indeed any real database marketing is a centralised database. It is absolutely essential to perform regular maintenance and keep your database free of duplicates, known bad data, bounced data etc.
If your data is disparate and fragmented across duplicate records, you won’t be able to see the big picture of your contacts’ actions and responses to campaigns.
- Have a focus on email addresses
Email is a critical ingredient in the marketing mix and email addresses must be accurate, working addresses. It should be remembered that it is equally important to analyse your database to see who hasn’t taken any actions – such as submitting surveys, clicking links in emails or opening email communications.
Depending on the length of your sales cycle, if people haven’t interacted with you during the past nine to twelve months possibly you should analyse the reason why they might not be engaging. Perhaps it might be relevant to devise a separate programme to try and re-activate old or non-engaging contacts. If all else fails consider removing these contacts from your marketing database or at the very least suppressing them from receiving email messages to enhance your deliverability.
- Progressively capture more data from everyone in your base
The more information you gather from prospects and customers alike the better, because you can incorporate it into your lead-score model, as well as your lead-management and lead-nurturing programmes. All the information you gather – including BANT, demographic, etc, provides you an indication of who your targets are, what their needs and preferences are, and where there are opportunities for relationships. Ultimately, this information gives you better insight for targeting, messaging as well as data purchase profiles.
- Standardise your data
Data comes into organisations and finally into the marketing department through multiple sources: invoicing, events, integration between systems, manual imports, form submissions, bought data, the list is a long one! The goal is to align the data and ensure it can be used for targeted segmentation. Standardising data can also include formatting all values required for marketing purpose and segmentation.
This can be a painstaking process as you initially prepare your data for implementation or integration with a CRM system, an email system or indeed a marketing automation engine, but the benefits of doing this will pay off. Once you have your initial set of data standardised, make the most of drop-downs on survey forms, limit use of open text fields, run manual one-off data file imports through a standardisation format prior to importing into your systems and ensure that anyone with access to upload data into any system adheres to the same agreed data upload formats.
- Identify segmentation opportunities
The more targeted your communications, the more effective your marketing will be. Take inventory of all the data you have available today and analyse it to define areas for segmentation. Find similarities and differences in your segments and break out your audience by needs, interests and behaviours. Engage prospects and customers on their own terms, be relevant and provide value at the right time, place and in the best format.
The benefits of keeping your data clean, accurate and standardised will be seen in all areas of your efforts, improved email deliverability, a centralised marketing history, targeted communications and more concrete lead-score models. Basically it will have nothing but a positive impact on all areas of marketing and in turn on your company’s bottom line.