It’s staggering how much data is collected by marketers in both consumer and business environments. But what’s even more surprising is the way in which that data is managed, or as is often the case, mismanaged. With data driven marketing as prevalent as it is today, it’s vital any marketing data collected is treated as an asset and not an afterthought.
A well managed customer database will ensure your marketing campaigns achieve the highest possible return on investment. It always surprises me how often we are asked to run an email or telemarketing campaign, only to be delivered a set of data in an Excel spreadsheet full of erroneous data records and questionable opt-ins.
What steps can you take to ensure your data is of the quality you need? Here are some handy tips for ensuring your marketing data is fit for purpose:
1. Create a Data Policy
This sounds like a fairly basic step, but simply setting up some ground rules for your business to follow on data capture will help. Include a standardised set of mandatory data fields for each record, along with a standard format, such as always separating first name and last name, or inputting the correct format for a post code. Make sure everyone understands the importance of recording permissions for each record.
Create a central database in which all customer records are kept. Creating a single version of the truth for every contact will help you to manage the relationship with your data and effectively segment for each marketing campaign.
2. Manage Permissions (Carefully)
Data protection is not a nice to have, it’s essential. You must manage carefully the data you hold on each contact and the permissions you have to use that data. Make sure you are compliant with the Data Protection Act and check your data against the relevant preference services for each market in which you operate – for example in the UK check the Telephone Preference Service for both consumer and business numbers.
3. Cleanse & Enhance
All marketing data has a limited lifespan. People change roles, change companies, move house and of course even pass away. Make sure your data is regularly cleansed and enhanced to ensure you aren’t wasting valuable budget and resources contacting gone-aways, or damaging your brand by marketing to the deceased. A data bureau will be able to help with both cleansing or enhancing your data to fill in any gaps, or you could employ a telemarketing agency too.
4. Share Securely
It seems to be a fairly regular occurrence that a government official, or a bank employee, leaves a laptop in the back of a taxi and with it gives away a raft of customer data. Make sure when you share data outside of your organisation, with suppliers or partners for example, you observe some best practices. No more emailing Excel files, or sharing data on USB sticks – keep it all encrypted, or use a secure online solution to manage the process of sharing data.
5. Segment your Contacts
If you want to optimise your marketing data, you need to be able to effectively segment it. In days gone by it has been enough to segment based on demographic, but you can now be much more specific and create ever more targeted segments and campaigns. Digital communications make this process much more cost effective too, whereas segmenting too tightly with a print campaign can have a dramatic impact on costs. Think about identifying your most valuable customers and treating these as a separate segment. However you plan on segmenting your database, you clearly need to be collecting the right data in the first instance.
There you have it. Five tips for effectively managing your marketing data and delivering ROI from your data driven campaigns. Please be sure to share any advice or best practices you observe in the comments below.