What to Consider in Your Data Management Framework

It’s 2021 and, unfortunately, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. COVID-19 has surely changed the way most people do business.  In an attempt to social distance and stay home, many people have shifted their shopping behaviors online.  As company’s online presence has had to evolve, and data management is becoming the backbone of a good marketing strategy now more than ever. Data management has always been a top strategy, but with more and more people shopping online, it behooves companies to put data management first. In today’s online scenery, it is vital to have clean, quality, reliable data that gives strong insight into your lead’s behavior in order to properly nurture them and turn them into customers.

Obtaining and leveraging this data means having a good data management framework in place to successfully collect, secure, and enhance the value of it. Data management comprises of processes and policies related to how data is ingested, organized and shared with marketing in a manner where it can be leveraged.  Below are key considerations to improve your data management framework.

#1:  Automated Data Cleansing

I am a big proponent of a program that will automatically pull in contact info, review the data, and appended missing values and/or update to correct standard values. This program is commonly referred to as a “contact washing machine” program.  To start, look at your top 5-10 fields that are most commonly used/most important to pass to sales.   Then, see how you can make the quality of those values better.  Examples include normalizing titles values, putting first and last name in proper case, and standardizing state and country values.  Maybe your business could benefit from categorizing/tagging contacts with a certain value based off a value in another field.  This program is where you could make it happen.  This would also be a great opportunity to catch important fields that come in as blank which you can enrich with a 3rd party data enrichment tool.  Setting this program up will take some time and strategy, but once in place, it will be a “set it and forget” type deal.  Okay, well maybe not completely “forget it” as the program will need updates later down the line. But, the real beauty of this program is that it is continuously running as new contacts enter your database, and it will always turn the data into “good clean data.”   Remember, your data is only as good as what you have, so if there are gaps and missing data, you will likely be missing opportunities with your leads.  You can start to close those gaps with a program like this.

#2:  Organizing Data

If you are anything like me, everything has its place.  All the tall glasses go on a shelf and all the small glasses go on their own shelf.  The same is true for data.  Looking at data from a contact field perspective, each field value should be in the correct data type. For example, if you have a field collecting birthday, the agreed upon format may be MM/DD/YYYY.  In that case, you should never see a person born in 1987 with a “4th of July” birthday in your system displayed as 7-4-87, rather it will be 07/04/1987.  You will need a set of principles instituted to ensure all your data is stored in the correct formats. Things to consider include numbers; do you keep decimals, and if so, how many? For state and country, will you use a two-letter abbreviation code, or will it always be fully spelled out?  I would encourage you and your team to collaborate on deciding the true format for each field and adopting how the data will be stored in your platform.

Another import method of organizing data is deciding how it will be structurally stored. Through the use of tables, fields, objects, data can be stored most effectively to stay organized and easy to retrieve.  Being organized will keep your platform clean and will ease usability when end users need to go in and pull data.

#3 Accessing the data

Once you have all clean data and it’s properly stored in your platform, you need people to be able to access the right level of data that is applicable for them.   It will be necessary for the data governance team to provide training for its employees that will use the data. Employees, in turn, should be able to understand what information management means and how to use the tools available to them. At the end of this type of training, employees should know that they only have access to data that is needed for their role, and that data should always be protected by following proper security guidelines.

As a next step in training, the designated employees should be taught how to retrieve and use the data.  Pulling data reports should be documented to ensure data is pulled in the right manner and using the correct fields.  Adhering to the documentation and training can reduce the time to pull data and speeds up the pace of work. It also allows employees to improve productivity and avoid confusion that may interfere with business development.

Everyone involved in managing the data, regardless of their role, should be aware of their responsibility to protect information as this will lower human error.

Summary

With a company’s online presence being greater than ever, 2021 really puts on the pressure to create better customer experiences. This includes the ability to manage, enrich, and leverage data at every possible touchpoint in the customer journey.  Data has vast potential when best practices are applied, which will contribute to informed business decisions, better customer experiences, and will likely result in an increase of revenue.

In 2021, let this be the year that you are not overwhelmed by data. Start small and eventually tackle any chaotic data environments one-by-one.  Once you do, you will become a more effective, organized, and happier digital marketer. If you need help along the way, Relationship One is always ready to assist.

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