Data management drives ROI

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Tim Altier, Director of business, analytics and insight, Bridgz Marketing Group
Tim Altier, Director of business, analytics and insight, Bridgz Marketing Group

Data opens the door for marketers to connect with customers at a personal, emotion-charged level. But this portal to customer-centric marketing remains locked for many organizations — both client-side and agencies. That's because they don't know how to use data as the splendid resource it is.

Data management can be mysterious. However, valuable data about customer history, habits and preferences is available to marketers if they know where to look and how to use it. The result is marketing campaigns that are much more efficient from a return on investment standpoint and much more effective in building long-term customer relationships. 

It isn't necessarily easy to build a data-driven marketing culture in an organization, but there are things you can do to make it work.

First, dig for the data. Often data is hidden or forgotten in sources within an organization, whether it's customer service records, purchase history files or sales contact data. 

Then integrate it. Various databases from multiple subsidiaries, software programs and even hardware platforms won't work for you until they're combined and streamlined. You need to integrate all of your data, whether you build that process or outsource it to a data integration provider, that repurposes data from disparate islands of data in a company into a usable, nimble database. 

Once you've integrated your data, you can begin to analyze it. By analyzing what the data is telling you for each audience segment, it's possible to acquire previously inaccessible insight into the customer buying intentions. 

Measurement comes next. This data can tell you which customers have the most value to your organization. It can tell you which communications channels are preferred and which are working. 

Your final step should be to learn from the data. You can continuously improve and optimize your marketing campaigns by extracting critical information and adapting accordingly. Experiment in new directions and with new channels based on information you coax from the numbers. 

We all know that keeping a customer is much more efficient than finding a new one, but it's amazing how few companies invest in managing data in ways that help their marketers truly understand their customers. Yes, marketing people are already buried in data measuring various marketing programs. However, marketers need to fight through the minutiae in order to get a fresh look at the customer. 

Only by systematically understanding customer data can a company open the door to an analytics infrastructure that feeds living, intelligent data into marketing programs that work, creating an emotional link to the customer. To me, it's the difference between marketing that relies on intuition and guesswork, and marketing that is driven by a comprehensive knowledge of the customer.

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