For marketers, data is the customer

Corinne Sklar

Corinne Sklar leads the global marketing organisation at Bluewolf, which includes digital marketing services. She is responsible for global brand awareness, corporate marketing strategy, client relations, and executive management. Corinne launched the award-winning corporate initiative, #GoingSocial, which has dramatically increased internal and external global collaboration. She is a frequent contributor to the Guardian UK and has been recognised with numerous awards including CRN’s Power50 as an industry leader. As a founding member of The Women Innovators Network, a global network that celebrates and supports female leaders who are driving business success, she is active in entrepreneurship and programs to encourage women's leadership in Silicon Valley.

The average person now consumes 12 hours of media, sends and receives 88 emails, checks their phone 110 times and sees an estimated 5000 marketing messages each day. The sheer volume of marketing messages means consumers are tuning out and clicking off.

In this cluttered environment, effective marketing is all about the delivery of relevant, personal content where and when a customer is most likely to engage with it. However, only 21 per cent of marketers currently believe they’re achieving this. Why? It comes down to a data problem.

To create such personalised content and a better customer experience, marketers need to have quick access to integrated and detailed data on current and potential customers. Our recent The State of Salesforce Report found that six in 10 marketers cite poor or inconsistent data quality and lack of data access as their biggest challenge.

Data-driven decisions separate a leading marketer from the competition; the best marketers are making data quality and access the central focus of their marketing strategy now. The end goals of the data-driven marketer are to increase and measure campaign ROI.

To achieve this in the coming year, the top three priorities for marketers are: Integrating data and driving visibility across sales, marketing and service (94 per cent); integrating disparate marketing applications to gain a complete view of their customer (93 per cent); and strengthening their partnership with IT to promote system governance and ongoing innovation (75 per cent).

Partnering with IT for a mature data governance strategy

Marketers need to integrate the platforms and applications they use to gain access to more and cleaner data. When integration is successful, campaigns are more personalised and ROI can be effectively measured.

But integration without strong data governance—and the bad data that can come of it—are marketers’ biggest barriers to success. CMOs need to partner with CIOs to tackle the data problem. Only clean, accurate data will allow marketers to focus on messaging strategy and creative campaigns. Here are three steps toward establishing a data governance strategy that will set the foundation for success:

1. Constrain data input : Data is no good to anyone if it’s junk. If you standardise what users can enter by eliminating free text fields, you can move towards cleaner data.

2. Integrate the right data, not the most data: Start by outlining the desired outcome of a campaign and then find the most relevant data sources to support it. Access to too much data is just as cumbersome as access to too little data.

3. Find ways to keep it up-to-date: Reducing bad data is only half the battle. The other half is keeping it up-to-date. Consider using trusted third-party data sources that consistently update customer information to reduce the manual burden on employees and limit errors.

Good data starts with good governance, and this can only be achieved by working closely with the CIO and the IT team. However, the advantages of a collaborative approach to better data are clear. Those companies with an effective data governance strategy are three times more likely to report that their marketing messages are personalised.

Connected, clean and trusted data can glean powerful insights for the marketing department and beyond.

Tags: data-driven marketing

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