How, practically, can you do this when you and your colleagues have got a hundred and one other things on your to do list?
Fact: Only 12% of companies base key business activities on intelligence provided by quality data (Forrester) which costs the average firm an estimated $8.2 million each year.
Have a data management process in place
Ensuring your data capture process is consistent and systematic throughout the company is at the heart of good data management. Yet, the more data input sources (human or electronic) there are, the more scope for inconsistency, errors and unclean data.
You can enforce certain formats of data entry but often such restrictions themselves lead to data that’s not 100% accurate. It can be like fitting a square peg in a round hole – it goes in but has to be moulded to fit which then means it’s not an accurate representation of its true, former self.
Once you’ve identified the type and sources of data to capture, scope and define the systematic procedures and policies for any database user or automated process to follow. Use a customer journey process map to visually demonstrate what’s captured when, from where, what information replaces what, what gets updated, what gets removed and to where (deleted or archived), etc.
Regularly communicate your data management process
Have a plan in place that includes regularly communicating your data management process.
Training, documentation, feedback process to capture all issues, help/support desk, regular updates of what’s been happening recently on the data management front – it all comes down to communication and keeping everyone informed with timely, accurate, relevant information.
Critically, involve all stakeholders and, by that I mean, anybody who refers to, uses or is a source of the type of data you’re managing. That means including sales, marketing, operations, customer service, finance, potentially HR. They will each bring valuable insight to the table. And absolutely, don’t forget IT…they become your best friend when it comes to data management!
Clean your data more than once a year!
For such an essential business and marketing tool, there must be one person specifically responsible for the quality of the data at all times. He/she must be known company wide as the Database King or Queen to whom any change in data is given.
It’s then his/her responsibility to amend the database appropriately. The same too for any unsubscribes from your email marketing or opt-outs from telemarketing activity.
In-house vs Outsourcing
If you haven’t validated your data in a while and you’ve got a good few hundred, if not thousands, of customers and prospects on your database, consider outsourcing the data cleansing process.
Whilst it’s an added expense, the cost often far outweighs the wasted money you’ll spend on ineffective marketing activity, not to mention negative customer perception, if your data is out of date or inaccurate.
Review your data management procedures
Your data management plan should also include:
- Reviewing current working practices at least once a year, if not bi-annually
- Keeping up-to-date with new technology
- Brainstorming new ideas and better practices
- Monitoring the technological as well as human impact of your data management processes.
The quality of your data and the customer insight it gives is at the heart of the success or failure of every marketing strategy, plan and campaign, irrespective of the marketing communication channels you employ.
Having a process in place that ensures you appropriately capture and continuously manage valid, clean data cannot, and should not, be underestimated.
When was the last time you cleaned your data?