Get the most out of your data

While we can all appreciate the vast amount of information within our company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, many of us still find it difficult to get the most out of our database. Marketing departments in particular struggle to harness this valuable asset as we, like the business as a whole, lack trust in our data.

According to a March Experian QAS study, 97 percent of respondents do not have complete trust in their data. This lack of trust is rooted in accuracy. Without accurate data, valuable resources are wasted. Companies end up spending administrative time re-working bad data and valuable marketing dollars on ineffective campaigns that provide little to no return on investment.

Improving data quality can be difficult. Information enters a CRM from many different sources—call centers, purchased lists, online forums and etcetera. Therefore, enhancing the quality of our data can be a daunting undertaking. To influence data quality, marketers should step out of their comfort zones and team up with database administrators to safeguard their databases against incorrect information.

More than anyone else in the organization, we marketers have a vested interest in improving data quality as it directly affects the results of our campaigns. Not only should we understand how poor data is collected in order to prevent it, but we should also make sure that we clean our existing data before using it. Furthermore, it is important that we champion the requirement for performing periodic database maintenance.

The first step in our quest for better data is to understand the collection methods and look for problem areas. It is likely that you will discover that the majority of erroneous information enters your systems in the same manner. By pinpointing the causes of poor data, companies can better prioritize budgetary dollars towards data quality projects that will generate the most return in a short period of time.

Next, it is crucial to ensure that data is clean before running your campaigns. The best way of starting is to make sure only accurate information enters the database. Many simple mistakes are made on account of human error. Implementing a software solution that verifies data prior to entering your database will eliminate the need for time-consuming rework. A good, automated software solution will offer safeguards against free-form typing and ensure that complete data is properly captured and formatted regardless of where this information is being taken.

Finally, regular maintenance is necessary to sustaining the health of your database. A documented process where duplicate accounts are removed periodically will ensure that you have a single view of each customer. Having the right information about your customers will enhance your ability to create targeted campaigns. It is also important to purge your database of old data. Funneling campaign responses back into your CRM will help you keep it fresh and avoid future expenses on the wrong target audiences. These efforts will foster data accuracy, leading to properly executed campaigns that achieve the maximum business benefit.

All three of these steps are easy to implement and provide immediate, measurable results. So, let’s expand our roles as data quality stewards. And while data quality efforts may fall out of the typical marketing job description, these processes are imperative to increasing the conversion rates on any campaign.

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