Data deluge: how marketers can manage information in the online world
With B2B marketers struggling to cope with the volume of data available to them, they need to employ a master data strategy says Adam Leslie
The vast amount of data in today’s world can be overwhelming for any modern business – even data doyens struggle to manage and maintain all of the different data sources from social media to internal databases. However, if used properly and paired with the right technology, data can be the most valuable asset to an organisation. While data is proving value in all areas of the business, in the marketing department in particular there is a huge opportunity to be gained from the sea of data.
B2B marketers understand the opportunity that data offers as nine out of 10 brands and agencies say data and analytics is changing their approach to advertising and marketing. Data can inform the prospecting process and help uncover the exact channel, time of day and communication format (email, direct message, social media etc.) to reach a potential buyer; gone are the days of cold calls and batch and blast tactics.
With so much data available – cloud business Domo predicts every person in the world will create 1.7mb every second by 2020 – marketers must ensure any attempt to reach a potential customer isn’t wasted. It’s no longer a case of finding the needle in a haystack. When we talk about data, it’s like finding a particular needle in a stack of needles.
How to create a single source of the truth
The need for an informed and thorough data strategy is obvious, but marketing teams continue to struggle with making sense of their data across the organisation. Enter master data. Master data is a globally consistent entity information system that spans all areas of the business, which creates a single source of the truth about each customer and account. It allows sales, marketing, and all other departments to access the same information and helps to maintain all of the B2B customer data that is produced. By mastering a company’s data, the entire business gains a complete 360-degree view of the customer, allowing more integrated and connected outreach.
Take, for example, a well-planned event where you have customers, partners, brands and vendors all in attendance. Once the event has taken place, you need to have the right information to hand to follow-up with each person. But if there are multiple systems across the business that collect all of the contact information there is bound to be inconsistent and incorrect information. This is a problem and can prevent the marketing team from securing leads. Businesses will always have streams of information that must be organised, categorised and used in the right place and at the right time.
Break through the data silos
A company without a defined master data strategy at its core will encounter a very familiar problem – data silos. Data silos occur when customer data lives in a wide range of systems within the organisation that aren’t updated or shared in a connected way. Data silos can make customer experiences seem disconnected and can cause waste and repetition throughout the business.
A third of marketers say siloed or inaccessible customer data is the top obstacle to achieving data-driven marketing success. Moreover, half of the respondents agreed that data silos in their organisation have a negative impact on marketing efforts that are led by data. A plan that connects the data across systems and departments with a common identifier is one of the key ways to break silos. If a business can eliminate data silos, they will find it easier to create a complete picture of the customer across the business.
The first step sets up the rest
Many organisations seek technology first to solve their data problems. Shiny new tech like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain seem like quick fixes to the issue. And buzzwords like ABM seem to promise overnight marketing success. However, technology should be seen as a way to facilitate the current marketing and data strategy – not as a strategy in and of itself. Smart marketers will use a master data strategy as a way to achieve a customised and connected customer journey, which can reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary admin and, ultimately, reduce the time spent taking prospects through the funnel.
Just like any machine that needs to work in unison, a technology solution will run out of fuel without the right structure and processes. An exciting technology purchase alone is not going to produce ROI without the right information to feed it. In fact, all it will do is waste budget. Marketers need to master the basics first.
How to gain buy-in and budget: Turning data into ROI
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