Properly assessed and skillfully deployed data can give marketers better visibility into past, present and future customer behavior with a reasonable sense of accuracy. But only by gauging the health of our data using a structured process do we have a chance of successfully harnessing this incomparable resource.
All companies face four critical issues addressable through top quality and accessible data:
- Without the fundamentals, cross-functional teams incur a huge development tax to get baseline work involving data completed. Data lives in multiple locations and it is not clear which source is accurate.
- We are often forced to pull from precious resource pools to support project execution (e.g., product management, data engineering, data architecture).
- Building marketing programs assumes considerable risk because we aren’t yet in a position to monitor data quality, manage communications to dependency teams and resolve issues in a timely manner. The obvious assumed pitfall is program failure but the more common risk is around programs firing errantly.
- We risk building into systems that might not be set up for us in the long haul.
While the work involved to unlock and centralize data can be significant, it’s worthwhile to take the time to evaluate and come to consensus to avoid these internal risks.
Use the following eight-step checklist to determine data value, usefulness and limitations, and build a clear data strategy.
- Check #1: Defined data. Is the data defined in a way that everyone understands and uses consistently?
- Check #2: Consistency. Do you have a repeatable process to produce data?
- Check #3: Hygiene, Accuracy. Is your data clean and of reasonably good quality?
- Check #4: Timeliness. Is your data relevant when it’s used for the purpose it’s being used?
- Check #5: Relevancy. Are you gathering data that drives business value or merely satisfies a curiosity?
- Check #6: Comprehensive. Are you actively anticipating what could come up later and incorporating the building blocks of what would be needed to expand in these ways in the future?
- Check #7: Precision. Does the information come in a format/structure that aligns with other information available to you?
- Check #8: Compliance. Are you only able to use the data under special circumstances?
As marketers, we want to create a culture in which others can quickly acquire enough data analysis know-how to offer their unique contributions. Trust must exist at multiple levels in the process—in the data itself, in how it’s labeled and in how it’s structured. Without trust, an incorrectly informed analyst can easily mistake one data point for another with potentially disastrous consequences.
Ease of accessibility and use is another factor in the mix. Information must be accessible in ways that are acceptable for their use and meaningful in their purpose. For example, a call list might display records to an agent based on time zones available for calling only so that the outreach is compliant and appropriate.
The follow-on actions become increasingly more powerful to the business when data is positioned as a foundation of strategy and planning, and when process has been created to allow access and visibility. Ultimately, it’s the overall impact of data that unlocks the potential of marketing activities.