Over the past few years, there’s been a huge push for marketers to create a more holistic and seamless customer experience. The ability to create, implement, and then deliver on that experience, however, depends largely on the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the data that’s driving it.
For starters, during the interest and intent phases of the customer journey, you need to be able to:
- Create personas and segment appropriately
- Profile, align, and target outreach to top accounts (your ABM strategy)
- Connect with prospects and customers across channels and unify the data into one system
- Deliver personalized messaging and content
- Conduct accurate lead and account scoring and matching and routing
- Act on engagements and feedback in real time
And how do you accomplish each of these things? With high-quality data.
Data’s inherent challenges for marketers
Whether it’s inaccurate data, incomplete data, or duplicate data, marketers encounter data quality issues regularly. It’s also easy for an organization’s data to become siloed, making it difficult to connect the dots needed to deliver a seamless customer experience.
More than half of marketers cite data quality and completeness as their biggest challenge to marketing success. And an Experian study found that roughly 30 percent of customer data is inaccurate. Which isn’t surprising, given that email marketing databases degrade at a rate of about 22.5 percent per year.
Unfortunately, marketers cannot undertake massive database cleansing projects and then just move on to other things. Marketing continually gathers data across channels and systems — making data quality both marketers’ biggest challenge and most strategic asset for creating an outstanding customer experience.
6 steps to reach data-driven marketing nirvana
The good news is that there are several things you can do today to improve and maintain the quality of your data over time.
- Identify your data sources: When it comes to improving your data quality, one of the first things you should do is identify your data sources — all of them. Just where exactly is your data coming from? Google Ads, web forms, tradeshow and event lists, your marketing automation platform? What else? Who is responsible for those data sources? Also, determine what your system of record is going to be. There should be one source of truth for your organization.
- Define data standards: Once you’ve identified all of your data sources, it’s time to define data standards for each one. Which data should be captured for each source? Define global data values and preferences, such as abbreviations, so you can easily map them into your system of record.
NOTE: It’s important that you perform this exercise in alignment with Sales, Services, Finance, Operations, and any other team involved in the customer journey.
- Assign data responsibilities: Each department or team should have its own set of data responsibilities. These responsibilities and roles typically roll up under Operations — such as Marketing Ops, Sales Ops, and Biz Ops. Even if Marketing doesn’t have its own dedicated Data Operations role (yet), it’s still important to define and assign data responsibilities within your team.
- Standardize data processes and systems: You spent a great deal of time and money implementing and integrating the technology systems that house your data. Make sure those systems are working the way they should and sharing your data the way you want them to. Standardize your manual data entry processes and encourage higher adoption rates through ongoing user training. Define all of the data criteria needed for list imports and standardize the upload process for lists acquired from tradeshows and events.
- Standardize lead capture forms and validate contact data at time of collection: As marketers, we collect data from various online channels. Standardize your web form fields and make sure you’re using global picklists or radio buttons instead of open-text fields. This yields consistent data collection and improved segmentation. Use progressive profiling and smart forms functionality to shorten the length of forms and enrich submission data. Validate contact data at the point of capture — before it syncs into other databases.
- Leverage technologies and partners for cleansing, normalization, appending, and data enrichment: Several technologies and reputable vendors exist that help organizations with these data management services. Find the ones that make sense for your organization’s needs.
Unlock the value from your data
In addition to improving the customer experience, quality data can also improve:
- ROI: Marketing invests a lot of money in campaigns — and technology. If the data in those systems is inaccurate, you’re most likely not getting a good ROI. Organizations with clean data are three times more likely to experience revenue growth.
- Decision-making: High-quality data empowers you to be more agile as a business and make better decisions in real time.
- Competitive advantage: If you have higher-quality data than your competitors, you’ll be able to provide a better customer experience.
- Data privacy initiatives: Data regulations will continue to evolve over the next few decades. Your prospects notice how you treat their personal data. If they don’t think you’re using it properly, they will be less likely to become a customer and give you even more of their data.
Data empowers everything we do as marketers, and data quality issues can impact the entire customer experience. If you don’t deal with these issues head on, providing a seamless customer experience will always remain just out of reach.
That’s why DemandGen offers a number of data services, including data cleansing, normalization, de-duplication and enrichment. We can also help you improve your segmentation capabilities for more targeted campaigns and gather the right information with forms and progressive profiling. Let us know how we can help you unlock the most value from your data!
As Marketing Operations Manager, Sabrina Killian manages DemandGen’s demand funnel, marketing technology stack, demand center, enablement, and more to drive demand, meet key business objectives, measure marketing’s efficiency and effectiveness, optimize conversions, and increase lead acquisition and customer lifetime value.