Any marketer you talk to will tell you they contribute to their team’s demand generation efforts in some way or another. And of course, every role on a successful marketing team is in some way geared toward demand generation, with the ultimate goal of producing sales-ready customers. But here’s the million-dollar question: what’s something that plays a critical role on a marketing team, but isn’t a role a person could fill?
The answer is data. (If you got this right, give yourself a gold star!)
Without it, your pretty emails, your sophisticated nurture, your shiny website…well, I’m sorry to break the news, but they mean absolutely nothing. Marketers need data to perform at their peak and deliver effective programs that drive ROI. Corinne Sklar, Global CMO of Bluewolf, says, “Remember (that) your lead nurture programs are only as good as your data. We all know that data is not sexy. I don’t know many marketers that want to spend their days cleaning and managing data. However, data is the lifeblood of any good lead or customer program. Whether it’s a data czar or marketing operations specialist, keeping a keen eye on data governance is what sets best-in-class marketing programs apart”.
Two things we’ve learned here: 1) There are sexier things in this world than data (glad we cleared that up), and 2) Data is super-duper important for an organization’s marketing efforts. So, to get the most out of your data and have an effective and efficient marketing automation platform and marketing team, beef up your data checklist with these four action items:
1. Clean It
No matter how well-maintained your data is—whether it resides in your CRM or on a spreadsheet—as you upload it into your automation platform, it’s important to take the opportunity to clean it. So go ahead—grab that metaphorical scrub brush!
In order to remove the excess, first get all of your data in one place and then carry out these simple tasks:
- De-duplicate: Duplicate contacts muddy your database and irritate your recipients. There is almost no faster way to getting an unsubscribe than sending multiple copies of the same email.
- Remove any data without an email address: Just think—how much use is a contact without an email address going to be in an automation platform? Also note that some marketing automation platforms charge based upon the amount of contacts in the system. Thus, diligence in keeping your database tidy affects your ROI.
- Remove any test data: Once your test is complete, make sure that you remove the data so that it doesn’t skew your results.
2. Consolidate It
Your data may contain many fields, but not all of them will be relevant for your marketing automation platform. There is no need to pass all of the information you have through. Just decide which data fields are most important to you and your campaigns, and go with those.
For example, using “Job Title”, jot down a list of best fit titles such as “buyer”, “director”, and “manager”. If you need to be more granular later, you can. The key is to not overcomplicate your initial upload. (Yay for simplicity!)
3. Standardize It
The next assigned action is to go into the system and actually create drop-down menus relevant to the consolidated fields you have decided on. Taking the example from above, your drop-down would contain: “buyer”, “director”, and “manager”.
In further pursuit of making your life easier, I should note that other than “Comments”, don’t feel the need to populate free text fields. They’ll put you on the fast-track to accumulating mounds of useless data that you most likely will never even use. The bottom line is to always ask yourself if you really need every piece of information that you so longingly desire to enter. (We’ve all been there.) All in all, try to avoid using the free text fields, but if you can’t resist, don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Additionally, this may seem obvious, but when you import your contacts, make sure the headers on your CSV file exactly match the fields in your automation platform. This ensures they will map seamlessly.
4. Integrate It
Don’t push every last piece of data over to the CRM. Keep all your data nice ‘n cozy in your marketing automation platform and only push actual qualified leads over to your CRM. This will make your CRM a much more efficient sales tool and will go a long way in building solid bridges between sales and marketing.
Whatever you do…
Don’t throw everything you have into your marketing automation platform and CRM. If you put rubbish in, there’s a very good chance you’ll get rubbish out. It’s worth investing the time to make it right.
Data doesn’t just happen. It needs love just like every other element of demand generation. And, just like everything else, if you care for it and nurture it, you will reap the rewards…cha-ching!
Have you utilized a similar data strategy? Please share your experience in the comments below!