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Don't let your clicks fall down a data black hole

Don't let your clicks fall down a data black hole John Lemp

Most businesses generate troves of data. In fact, by the end of today, another 2.5 quintillion bytes of data will be added to the stockpile -- that's a growth rate four times faster than the world's economy.

Though not all data is created equal, the most valuable kernels will help a company understand its consumers, improve its initiatives, and, of course, gain an edge on the competition. But what if that data wasn't good? What would it mean to a business?

Each year, bad data costs hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of damage to U.S. businesses alone, making data integrity an ever-increasing concern. Data integrity means your data tracks between you and a partner's platform with little or no discrepancy.

Almost every company in every industry relies on data. Marketing, in particular, uses data (and the transparency it provides) to gauge a campaign's success. It tells advertisers how an ad is performing, if the placement of one ad over the next works best, or whether a certain ad variant draws more of the target audience's attention.

With content marketing still gaining in popularity, transparent data allows you to better control your strategy. You can determine what content is performing and what device is being used to optimize a campaign to reflect these findings -- and do it in real time, no less.

But that data must be captured and analyzed with some regularity. Otherwise, you can't be sure of its integrity, and there's no way to ensure your business is meeting the expectations of those who matter most: customers.

The data red flag

Not long ago, we learned of a partner company experiencing a 30-40 percent discrepancy between its data and its content recommendation partner's. That meant the company was paying for content that wasn't read by an audience that was present and accounted for.

This faulty data also meant that the company couldn't make intelligent decisions. How do you know what is and isn't resonating with your audience? When you can't properly track analytics, it's tough to build engaging content.

Besides discrepancies, reporting should be a big concern. Don't accept findings that aren't updated in real time. At the touch of a button, you should be able to access the most up-to-date analysis so you can make the most informed choices possible. Without accurate data at your fingertips, it's easy to lose opportunities.

So how do you keep yourself from falling victim to the black hole of data?

  1. Scrutinize the values of potential partners. Partners with values contrary to your own rarely make for successful partnerships. Values should align, so do your due diligence and research your potential partners. Look at the company's mission, values, and vision. 

    You need a partner capable of helping you develop the best content campaign for your business, and that often requires commonalities in values.

  2. Demand transparency from partners. Every aspect of the partnership should be clear and transparent. Nothing should be restricted from your view. Transparency is critical to managing and tracking everything from marketing budgets to campaign ROI.

    Take the sales process, for example. It requires complete clarity in tracking win rates, unclogging bottlenecks, forecasting sales numbers, and monitoring sales rep activities. Without access to those key metrics, there's no way to improve the sales pipeline.

  3. Test multiple partnerships. Develop a series of questions to get a true read of potential partners' capabilities. Ask them about content strategy, workflow software, and content analytics. Do they have the ability to scale? Can they measure content beyond impressions and clicks?

    What about their relationships beyond clients? For example, if a potential partner doesn't have relationships with major ad blockers but passes their stringent approval processes, you could be leaving money on the table.

    Integrity spills over into every aspect of every relationship and partnership. Partnering with someone you trust makes it that much easier to manage each campaign, let alone have faith in the integrity of your data.

John Lemp is an American businessman and software developer, co-founder and currently CEO of content recommendation network RevContent.

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