The following is a guest post by Heine Krog Iversen, CEO of TimeXtender
Is your organization trying to determine the best way to be data-driven? Are you flooded with data and unclear on the best way to assimilate and digest that data and turn it into business-related action? Is the “data, data, data” game eluding you?
Organizations of all kinds are facing these questions; the matter has gotten acute: 90%+ of companies believe that they are operating on “bad data” while 80% cite issues creating meaningful data-based business-intelligence in their business.
Houston, we have a problem!
Data Management Principles
To best avoid common data issues, you must abide by the four golden principles of data, which are:
- Organization– ever-changing and growing pools of data have to be identified, accessed, and harnessed. This is the greatest challenge of Big Data.
- Placement – that data is available is great but it has to be “warehoused” somewhere in order for a company to be able to meaningfully access it.
- Democratization – if data remains the province of the few, then the various roles in the organization (from Sales and Marketing to Finance) are not given the opportunity to improve the business by using data in their In fact, all roles in the organization need to be able to flexibly access and act on data.
- Infrastructure – since the data frame is ever-changing, organizations have to invest in an infrastructure to be able to ingest, digest, visualize, and act on new sources of data- and this has to be done in an “automated” fashion given the speed of business today.
These four principles are immutable, irrespective of the types of data you are looking to act on. Whether the data is Social, Web, or Corporate, whatever its source or volume, these principles hold true.
The beauty is that solutions exist and not ones that take years to implement or coffers of gold to procure. The data-game is changing fast and so is the innovation happening to allow companies to make use of the data at their disposal.
Unique Challenges for Marketing
Heine’s post above from 2015 still rings true today. But we’ve been lucky to have many advances in technology over the past few years making data more accessible to every business person.
Marketing has some unique challenges with data because marketers work on so many different channels. Let’s break down Heine’s four principles and see how marketing can find solutions.
Marketers pull data from a wide variety of sources. We have internal data in our automation platform and CRM like website visits, email clicks, and form fill data. Then, we have external data from social media, advertising, search traffic, and content syndication. Not to mention all of the third-party contact and intent data available to purchase from hundreds of vendors!
We can use some of this data at an aggregate level. For example, knowing how widely a piece of content was shared around the web, compared to your most successful pieces or your competitors, can give you a great indicator of how well a certain topic is performing with your audience. Tools like BuzzSumo can help you organize content reach.
However, the most actionable data needs to be organized around your marketing objectives. Namely, converting leads into customers and driving revenue. As such, data that is organized around lead-level information is the easiest to harness. That’s why many platforms that used to be focused on aggregate data, like social media performance or PR mentions, are starting to tie actions to individuals. In the social media space, for example, apps like Socedo and Oktopost both identify which leads are engaging with relevant topics on social.
Storing Data for Marketing and Sales Alignment
Larger organizations are creating their own data warehouses, but what’s a small marketing team to do?
It’s important to have a single source of truth for your business – or at the very least, between marketing and sales. This means:
- A platform to which all the relevant users have access
- A common view of leads, accounts, and customers
- All actions, from the top of the funnel to the bottom, are in one place for accurate attribution
- Data is protected, and human error is limited
Often, the single source of truth is the company’s CRM or marketing automation system.
But selecting your main platform is only half the battle. Now you have to make sure the apps and tools you use all integrate into this system, so the data lives in one place. That’s why selecting vendors that integrate well together is essential. Even if your social media manager sits two hundred feet away from your marketing operations manager, the Twitter campaign that found a new lead should be identified in Marketo.
Empower Data-Driven Marketing Superheroes
One of the upsides of the data revolution is that every person in a company has access to more information. As such, they can make more informed decisions and act more effectively.
As Mike Ballard, Sr. Digital Marketing Manager at Lenovo, points out, “Now, as a marketer, it’s not about creating cool ads anymore. It’s about what technology do I have, what data do I have, how am I using that data? Marketers are pushed into the world where we now have to love data, Excel, and number crunching. It’s opened up a whole new world for us: to access data, to process data, in how we market to people.”
To make this possible, data needs to be easy to use for everyone in their roles. Public dashboards, customizable reports, and shared documents can help. At the end of the day, your data is only as accessible as the infrastructure you have in place.
Infrastructure to Tie Data Principles Together
Now comes the fun part of data management – well, fun for the marketing technologist! With your single source of truth identified, now you can determine where you have gaps in the data you need. Consider the following questions:
- Do I have coverage, aka enough data to identify my leads and accounts?
- Is my data up-to-date… or out-of-date?
- Do I have integrated analytics across the channels that the marketing team wants to use?
- Can each marketing user answer questions with data on their own?
There’s a scale of maturity for each of these questions. You may not need a data visualization platform right off the bat, but do your tools allow marketers to analyze what’s performing well and what could be improved? For example, a social media manager should be able to understand how their job is making an impact on the full marketing funnel.
Data management can be overwhelming, especially in marketing. New trends like account-based marketing and regulation like GDPR and spam laws aren’t making it any easier. But if your organization is struggling to manage data effectively, don’t worry.
Crawl, walk, run. Start with your business objectives. Most likely you already have a CTA you want to promote. In terms of data, you need leads; you need to know who’s most interested; and you need to know which messages are performing the best to convert the leads.
You don’t need an entire automation system in place. You need a tool or two to run a campaign.
If you’re interested to try out social media data to find and engage your target leads, check out a free trial of Socedo.