Educating the Educated – The Importance of Data Integrity

Jacqueline Davis

I have a solid educational background that supports my professional career quite nicely.  I have been lucky to have known early on that marketing was a passion of mine and it was where I wanted to spend my “earning years”.  I am also blessed to work with highly educated and incredibly smart people who are driven by innovation and challenge.

So when I sought out to discuss marketing data and the importance of it being an integral part of all marketing activities, I was stunned to learn that I had to go to back to the basics.  I would have to educate the educated.

To some degree, we take data for granted.  We assume because we have a database and a tool, like Marketo or Eloqua, to support it that everything is hunky dory and our message should surely reach the right people.

Everyone in marketing is aware of the traditional hard/soft bounce on email and the dreaded unsubscribes our customers’ gate us with.  But data integrity management goes far beyond the traditional invalid email indicators.  It’s much more about understanding your marketing and sales goals and what objectives you’re trying to achieve.

Data is not something peers would normally think about let alone prioritize when discussing a go-to-market strategy.  The journey to educate peers regarding the dynamic nature of marketing data starts with understanding the overall strategy for your business.  When you include data as part of your planning and alignment with content and marketing channels, you start to formulate a process that fosters strong persona representation and expansion.

A good way to demonstrate the impact marketing channels and content have on data is to show the difference in quality of information when you use a form with 5-6 questions (relevant to your strategy) vs. using a form with only email and name.  They will quickly see the high return in receiving a quality inquiry vs. something you are not able to categorize automatically into a division, target audience, or region of business.

You need to educate your peers on the reality of human data intervention and that this can cost big bucks depending on the size of your database.  In some cases, a single contact record can cost anywhere for $1 to $45 to clean and optimize depending on the information available.  You don’t want to spend the $45 per record if you can spend $1 and ask good questions on your lead capture.  Without this and the value brought on by data with integrity, you will not see the return on your campaign dollars.

Data is the basis for a successful campaign. It requires the human touch to enhance basic data values such as job title into job function and job level.  It requires some degree of standardization on naming conventions so reporting and list pulls are meaningful.  And finally, it requires human control to ensure good data is not overridden by bad data thru list uploads or sales data base syncs.

Demonstrate data integrity to your peers, show them the impact of bad data capture by using my form example.  Or, simply run a gap analysis on your data to highlight the persona gaps as it aligns to your business strategies.

And…… live by these data rules:

  1. Have 1 source of truth
  2. Capture mandatory data fields and only upload lists that meet these requirements
  3. Prepare to clean sales data – if it is coming over into your MAP then capture and clean the record to ensure no duplications are being created.
  4. Invest, invest, invest – this could be an in house team of data experts or an agency that can provide you the ongoing support required. It is key that these people understand your business objectives but also your persona world and how to classify them.
  5. Report regularly – this helps educate the masses on the overall power of data investments.

Those who get it and invest in it will surely see more fruitful success in their campaigns, which, in turn, should yield higher investment in marketing programs for next year.  And….that’s a good thing.

Written by Jacqueline C. Davis