As the digital era evolves exponentially, organizations everywhere are recognizing the need to focus on data management. What does optimizing data have to do with marketing? Everything.
The power of data is in its ability to guide strategy, feed analytics, deliver variable content, and provide measurement via a growing number of media. If you listen closely enough, it allows you to speak directly to customers utilizing the optimal channel. With great power comes great responsibility to use data wisely.
Master data management for marketing
This is the art of acquiring, maintaining, and making accessible current and correct data. All companies strive to do this well, but it can be a daunting task. Large companies often run into internal roadblocks such as multiple departments managing the same data sets, while smaller companies struggle to acquire the technology and technical expertise to manage their data. Marketers face many of the same challenges, although your current data management state will dictate where a data management initiative should start. An organization that invests its time, money and effort into master data management will increase its ROI by marketing efficiently and effectively.
Evaluate internal and external data sources to determine their relative value, and improve the gathering and acquisition of the data to make it more complete and accurate. There are a wide range of tools that can be purchased by an organization to give them this ability. In the end, each will have a mix of tools and back-end technologies that will facilitate source optimization. However, having experienced data technicians who have the skill sets to utilize these tools to identify each data element's value and the overall value of the data is the key to success. Although automation increases efficiencies and quality, the manual and sometimes tedious work done by data technicians is a necessary evil in source optimization. This effort produces valuable data that can be leveraged for all aspects of a marketing campaign from selection through measurement now and into the future.
Prepare and standardize the data for proper delivery, and append demographic and other information so interactions can occur at a personal level. Some of the same tools that support source optimization also support the enhancement process. Many of the same data elements play a major role in delivery via marketing channels. Call centers require standardized phone numbers to work with their calling applications. Email delivery engines and services expect properly formatted email addresses. The US Post Office offers work sharing discounts when companies apply address standardization before sending mail pieces via the USPS. These are just a few of the reasons to take the time to apply standardization before delivery. Another reason, which can affect ROI, is to ensure the deliverability of each item. Each touch can cost anywhere from $.03 for each email, $2 to $4 per outbound call, and somewhere in between for a printed piece. These dollars can be saved for future touches and greatly improve ROI simply by decreasing the number of targeted customers who will never convert. Sometimes the data source may not contain, or have very little of, the elements that are necessary to target or deliver messaging. This is when demographic appends are necessary -- perhaps through a third-party vendor. When these data appends drive delivery points or segmentation, the feedback you get after executing a campaign will help determine the vendors that are best for your organization.
Evaluate the effectiveness of various marketing channels, and measure or compare channel performance. In the past decade channel analysis has become a major focus of any successful long-running marketing program. Because we now have so many ways to reach out to customers it is very important to determine what channel is best for communicating with them. It not only saves the marketing program dollars, it tells the customer we are indeed listening to them and altering our communications accordingly. As a program matures, analytics can be used to profile current customers and their preferred channel and start out on that same channel with new customers who fit the same profile. To be customer-centric, communicating over the customer's preferred channel is key.
It is also important to pay attention to how data is stored for easy access and how data is utilized to create communications. With large programs reaching out to multiple channels, some of them in near real-time, a database is critical. Composition engines like XMPie allow cross-channel marketing using the same creative elements, including those that are data-driven.
Marketing pros who can put all of this together will be poised to execute marketing programs that are smarter, customer-centric and highly personalized.
Bob Gorans is director of data services for Bridgz Marketing Group.
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