Behind every business function is valuable data. But data is also at the root of pain points for many companies — How do you organize it? Where do you store it? How do you use it to its fullest potential?
We all know what it looks like when data isn’t in good shape: outdated email lists, inaccurate reporting, unreliable connections between platforms, and combing through spreadsheets. In these cases, valuable information sits underutilized (or not utilized at all), and effective marketing automation is out of reach.
Your CRM data may be the key to solving your marketing challenges — the trick is managing it so it can be leveraged properly.
But before we dive into the many benefits of data management strategy, let’s cover the basics:
What is data management?
Data management refers to the practice of collecting, storing, protecting, and using data sustainably within a business. The goal is often to optimize data utilization in order to gain insights and make more informed decisions.
This process will look different for every business depending on size and needs, but it often looks like some mix of:
- Creating, accessing, and updating data
- Storing data across clouds and on premises
- Using data in growing processes, reviewing analytics, and creating algorithms
- Ensuring data privacy and security
- Archiving and destroying data on a schedule aligned with compliance measures
Why do marketers need a data management strategy?
When we ask our clients if they have a single source of truth, most point to their CRM or a database. But when we follow up by asking if they trust that data, the answer is often shaky at best. This isn’t just our experience — as it turns out, a third of business leaders don’t trust their own data.
Unfortunately, using subpar data to drive your marketing decisions will produce subpar results (hence the adage, “garbage in, garbage out”), and that comes with a cost. According to a 2019 Forrester study, for every media dollar spent in marketing, 21 cents are wasted due to poor data quality.
Here are just a few reasons why CRM data quality can make or break your marketing strategy:
- If your buyer personas are based on old or inaccurate data, you may be marketing the wrong things to the wrong audiences, which can deflate your ROI.
- Many marketing automation tools rely on CRM data to produce results, so low-quality data will cause your performance to suffer.
- If too many of your marketing emails end up in spam folders or getting bounced due to outdated contact lists, internet service providers could blacklist your company’s IP address.
- If your CRM is full of bad data, it’s hard to measure the true impact of a campaign — did you really gain 200 new contacts, or are some of them duplicates?
As your data continues to decay with time, these problems will only compound and get worse. Even with the best team and the best tools at your disposal, your marketing strategy is only as good as the data used to back it up.
What makes data high-quality (or not)?
To measure data quality, you need to assess multiple factors, including whether it’s accurate, complete, consistent, reliable, and up to date. Missing fields, data entered in the wrong fields, outdated information, typos, misspellings, and duplicate entries are all examples of poor-quality data.
Every business is different, so how you choose to assess those factors is up to you. But here are a few ideas to consider as you create your data management strategy:
- Perform regular CRM data audits and compare the results to internal benchmarks.
- Create validation rules and dependencies for data elements (for example, an email address must contain an @ sign).
- Use tools that evaluate data quality and flag items for cleanup, as well as tools that help you avoid poor-quality data in the first place.
What are the benefits of high-quality CRM data?
So, what do you have to gain by creating — and sticking to — an ongoing data management plan? In addition to the time you’ll save by avoiding spreadsheet verification and other arduous tasks, you’ll likely experience these benefits:
1. Better-defined target audiences
Personas are important, but when they’re inaccurate, using them can do more harm than good. On the other hand, speaking to a very broad audience means you’re wasting dollars on people that aren’t interested. Accurate, up-to-date personas will help you craft more effective marketing and sales materials.
2. Better decision-making and strategy
When you have high-quality data, you can craft your marketing strategies based on solid information. No more relying on a hunch that may or may not be supported by your data — decisions can be calculated, supported, and analyzed with confidence.
3. Better connections with customers
With a foundation of accurate buyer personas and better-informed marketing strategies, you can make better connections with your customers. Whereas poor-quality data may lead you to bombard customers with content they’re not interested in, high-quality data can help you tailor your marketing for the best possible customer experience. You can even employ tools like smart content to deliver more personalized value.
4. Better reporting
Without all that poor-quality data cluttering your CRM, you’ll have more visibility into the impacts of your marketing efforts, as well as areas of opportunity.
5. Competitive advantage
Like we said before, one in three business leaders don’t trust their own data. That means they’re missing out on opportunities to create better connections, execute more effective campaigns, and measure the effectiveness of their own work. Their loss is your gain — with the right CRM data management strategy, you can get ahead of the competition.
Could you be doing more with your data management strategy?
As a full-service digital agency, we’ve worked with clients to revolutionize their data management. Whether you need to identify better data collection opportunities, clean out old contact lists, migrate your data to a new CRM, or create a comprehensive data management plan, we can help you reap the benefits of good, clean data.
Ready to get started? Get in touch.