Shifting Data Into Overdrive: Top 10 Questions Every Marketer Should Ask

Much has been spoken about data recently. And with good reason. The way of the world has changed. Research from Italian design firm Creotivo reveals that there are more devices connected to the Internet than there are people on the entire planet. Every minute, 100,000 tweets are tweeted. Every second, one new user joins LinkedIn. For marketers, large enterprise and small business alike, data is helping to define sales, customer engagement, brand loyalty, customer insight, demand generation, and more.

Shawn Ansted of Kelmscott Communication's e-solutions team says, "It's important to have good data. With bad data, you're going to lose touch with those people on the other end. If you don't keep up with the data, from addresses to very specific record details, you can't deliver them relevancy down the line." He says data management can help companies "speak" to an individual with tremendous personalization.

But what happens when data isn't in the best shape? Two likely scenarios will typically ensue: frustration over old or incomplete contact information or, even more troubling, frustration over not using data to its full potential.

Of course, the volume and speed of social media, video, text messaging, mobile applications, email and documents have all impacted data, making it harder to control than ever before. Ansted says, "Part of me feels like there is information overload for many marketers. It's hard to understand or know which data channel to focus on."

So, where do you start in using data to drive your marketing? To quote Francis Bacon: "A prudent question is one-half of wisdom."

In that spirit, here are the top 10 questions every marketer should ask:

  1. How are we currently using our data?
  2. What does our data universe look like?
  3. What do we want our data to help accomplish in the future?
  4. How often do we update or cleanse our data, including email addresses?
  5. How do we store and access our data?
  6. Where did the data originate: customer database, social media, promotional campaigns, website visitors, landing pages, third-party publishers, mobile apps, ad networks, or existing clients?
  7. How diverse are the segments within our data and are they identified?
  8. Do we have e-mails appended or validated via an outside service?
  9. What does data mean to our organization: ROI, retention of clients, upsell of clients, new client acquisition, turning leads into clients, filling the sales funnel, donor cultivation, alignment with strategic goals?
  10. How will practicing good data management impact our organization's credibility, relationships and other important intangibles?

By starting with these questions you may get an idea of where your data stands today and develop thoughts on where it can take your marketing tomorrow. An experienced company will help draw a blueprint on next steps with objectives driving the build.

At Kelmscott Communications, we use a proprietary approach called Kelmscott Connect to define strategy. When we work on data-driven campaigns, we might break down our approach as follows:

  1. Research: Explore and discuss what is in the data. What do you like about it? How old is it? How often is it updated? What is the data integrity and cleansing protocol? What are our first steps? What processes will help build the list? How can we use details in the data to map our strategy?
  2. Strategy: Segment the database to transform it into a robust, multi-dimensional resource. What relevant offers and content will each contact want to receive? What is the timing and frequency of each outreach?
  3. Development and Execution: Define execution and how it relates to both marketing and business goals. A strategic approach maximizes return-on-investment, eliminating wasteful dollars spent on inefficient data management or sending the wrong audiences mixed messages.
  4. Measurement: What are the results and how do they compare to expectations?

"Kelmscott Connect utilizes solid strategy in developing data. It gets behind the client and helps them manage the data so they can reach the point where they are ready to launch a successful campaign," said Ansted.

While not always easy, data management may be the sleekest vehicle to set you on the straightest, fastest route to marketing results. Let's go!