…there is data, underpinning all aspects of the vision, targeting, creative, messaging and execution of activities across all marketing channels. The quality of your data will determine the success of your marketing strategy and ultimately your performance and ROI. Let’s put the spotlight on some of the common challenges.
Data is rapidly becoming the most essential part of marketing strategies for companies looking to set themselves apart from the competition. The appeal is easy to grasp; better data means greater insight which in turns affects the overall relevance of communications ultimately leading to greater conversion and performance.
In the age of Big Data, the availability of data is not necessarily the challenge. Quite the opposite in fact as there’s an abundance of data available in most companies. The challenge lies in collating it, having access in one place, linking it together and making sure that you understand the limitations of the data before interpreting it into actionable insight.
Below we have outlined a couple of common challenges marketeers are up against along with some thoughts on how to combat these with a well thought out strategy.
1. Data Quality + Targeting
The quality of your data will determine what options are available to you in terms of targeting. For instance you could find it pretty difficult to do a postal campaign without address information, to segment your messaging by vertical without Industry as a field in your data or run an email campaign without email addresses.
It’s more than just having the right fields in the data. Availability of the information, accuracy of the information and the ongoing commitment to keeping it up to date is where the focus needs to be.
Analysing the available data against the intended future strategy will inevitably need to be linked for optimum success. So in order to draw accurate conclusions, you need to have accurate data. The first step is to understand what you have versus what you would like to have and then develop the processes and procedures to ensure you capture accurate data. Remember, keeping data clean is an ongoing programme, not a one-off activity, so it is worth making it relevant for everyone involved with an understanding of how it helps everyone in the long run.
2. Compliance + Regulation + Practical Implementation
Good, clean accurate data is not the only challenge facing marketeers. Legislation around the use of data is certainly a hot topic with EU amendments being drafted into proposals as we speak. Gathering, maintaining and honouring rules laid out for how contact information is used is vitally important, particularly around the area of opt-in for different types of communication, which currently differs on a country by country basis. Mistakes in this area can have a significant financial impact on companies with large fines being levied against companies as well as damaging their reputation.
The advice here is to review the information that you are legally bound to maintain to ensure compliance with that particular marketing channel, consider how this information gets updated and put improvements in place that facilitate the update ensuring it happens often and consistently.
If this feels too much like a burden, consider the implication of a data breach where sensitive information is removed from company premises or the negative publicity around a non-compliance of data privacy regulations.
3. Performance + ROI
It would be foolish to underestimate the importance of marketing being able to show performance and the impact on the bottom line of marketing activities. For some, it might feel like a burden to constantly have to justify the budgets required. But utilised correctly, the performance aspect of marketing can also be the instrument helping justify the increase in marketing spend and proof of its own importance.
Data quality improvement can be linked to the cost that would have been lost should the marketing activity been based on inaccurate data. Uplift in email marketing can be linked to the increase in emailable contacts and therefore linked to the performance improvements from these enhanced contacts.
Be sure to monitor performance against data quality and improve the information gathering processes ongoing to ensure that you can evolve your marketing continuously. Just imagine being able to see the complete customer journey in a single view to get a full understanding of how the sales and marketing cycle worked for each customer. Imagine the insight this would give you if available for the whole marketing database.
4. Data + Analysis = Insight
Having data for the sake of having data might be somewhat pointless, the same goes for not looking at the data in greater detail to understand what it consists of. Without analysing the data you will not be able to gain actionable information that in turn leads to insight that can be used to improve upon all the areas discussed in this article so far.
Words like Analysis and Insight might sound fancy and perhaps your immediate reaction is that it would be too complicated for you to realistically be able to use or afford, but it does not have to be complicated or expensive. At the end of the day, it comes down to trying to make sense of the information available and use it to your advantage.
Ultimately, it is a case of making sure that you have the data fields available to give you the factors to consider when trying to do better marketing. The next level is then to compare one field against one or more other fields in your analysis. Here are couple of practical scenarios;
- Create date; gives you when the contact entered your database
- Purchase date; added to the above this gives you how long it took before they became a customer, which means insight into the sales cycle, but it also means that you can analyse seasonality of purchasing.
- Campaign history; added to the above this gives you the number of touch points that were required prior to a purchase and it can also highlight triggers that could have influenced a decision.
- Product history; added to the above this gives you the migration paths for upsell and cross sell scenarios and the most likely campaigns triggers to use as well as when to influence the decision.
By now, you will hopefully have come to the realisation that although data quality initiatives might upon first glance feel like a burden to complete, once completed they represent the key to a more efficient marketing activity with increased performance which can be linked to a clear financial benefit to the company.
Ensuring understanding of data at the highest level in your company will in turn be vital to facilitate the availability of budgets for implementing the necessary approach to succeed long term.