Managing Data Challenges

Data can provide organizations with considerable advantages and greatly impact growth and profitably. Yet, studies like the recent one from Capgemini state that data powered enterprises are “realizing 70% more revenue per employee and are driving 22% more profits” also question why only 40% of organizations are using data driven insights to power business value and innovation. 

The answer is that most organizations are dealing with roadblocks that are preventing them from taking advantage of their own data – and regardless of the size or complexity of the business the same top issues are causing these problems:  

  • Siloed data
  • Missing/poor quality data
  • Skills gap (not knowing how to leverage data)
  • No data strategy/not solving the right problem
  • Lack of insights

For this blog, we will focus on what is typically the biggest issue for most organizations: Siloed data across the Martech stack. As most businesses grow, they add to their technology stacks with best of breed platforms. Typically, these will be furnished by different vendors and not all of them ‘speak’ to each other. This disconnect can be a result of several things, including closed technologies, no common unique identifier and the lack of expertise and/or bandwidth within a marketing or IT team to ‘connect’ the platforms. And without merging key data, it’s challenging to build and execute use cases that enable marketing to grow the business.

Merging Data

When looking to resolve siloed data, it’s important to take a strategic approach and focus on the end goal. Data is of value across organizations, but not all data is needed to action every strategy. Customer growth and loyalty marketing strategies are driven primarily by contact, channel marketing and product-level data. Just focussing on the platforms which capture and store these fields is a challenge in itself! As marketers strive to create a single customer view and analyze their customers in order to develop relevant and personalized marketing initiatives they should be able to determine what data is required, and look across the platforms where these fields are stored, and identify the optimal platforms for their single source of the truth and for executing on their initiatives. 

More and more, having a  CRM + integrated Marketing Automation Platform is proving to be the best platform selection. And for many organizations, this requires merging contact data from more legacy type email platforms and databases into more sophisticated and powerful CRMs.

With the end value proposition clear, the question then becomes – how to perform a contact merge ensuring the end result of clean data which can be used to drive marketing campaigns and report their success.

Getting Started

We’ve pulled together a list of considerations for a successful contact merge, with the end goal of maximizing the value of your data and breaking down those siloes.

  • Identify your ‘source’ data platform(s) and your ‘destination’ platform.
  • Determine what data lives in the platforms being considered:
    • Most companies collect and store a lot of data, some of which is not used and/or doesn’t provide any value. Before spending time and effort on migrating data from one platform to the other – decide if it’s worth it.
    • Remember that if you are working with both leads and contacts they may not have the same data fields (and the quality or the way you treat those fields may vary).
    • As a result you may have different business rules (which fields you integrate, and which platform houses the better quality or updated set of values) for different segments.
  • Confirm your unique identifier:
    • Having a unique identifier, such as a lead or contact id or email address is critical to merging data from one platform to the next.
    • If there isn’t a field that can be used, a custom identifier can be created based on existing fields. But remember the same logic must be used across all platforms.
  • Where the same field exists in multiple platforms – determine if the values in the source or destination will be kept:
    • You will most likely have a set of fields which do live in both platforms but typically one platform has more accurate or clean data.
    • This may vary field by field.
    • In most best of breed platforms, import functionality will allow you to designate at a field level whether to update or skip incoming values.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to clean up data:
    • If a field is not accurate or doesn’t provide value – don’t bring it into the new platform – remember Garbage In, Garbage Out.
    • Examples: Interests that you will never use for marketing, a field that is out of date (if age vs birth date was captured), appended data that is no longer accurate.
    • When was the last time you did an email cleanse? Depending on the state of the platforms, sometimes it makes sense to perform this process once the integration is completed and other times before.
  • Determine how and where Opt-Out data is stored:
    • If your relationship falls outside of CASL permissions then do not bring in a stagnant opt in field.
    • Consider importing fields that will help create a dynamic Opt-In field such as last engagement, last log in or last activity.

Don’t Forget to Test

It’s always best practice to set up a step by step project plan that includes testing before rolling out a full data merge. 

  • Remember to create sample exports from your ‘source’ platforms for each different audience (ex: leads, contacts, loyalty program members).
  • Set up import templates for each one of the above segments in your destination platform as detailed above.
  • Take screenshots of a set of sample records in both the source and destination platform that exist in both so you can confirm ‘before and after’ results.
  • Run a backup before any mass data updates are performed.
  • Determine a cut off for the original source platform – some companies like to run in parallel for a set period of time. If that is your selected approach, you will need to run the process above for ‘catch up’ data before you full switch over.

One Silo down – what’s next?

Once you’ve successfully merged data from multiple source platforms into a single destination, you are ready to start taking advantage of a more unified contact view. What should be your first step?

  • Craft a data strategy to outline how you want to use your data, analyzing your contact base to discover opportunities,  building personas and developing targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Perform a data assessment to uncover data gaps (missing and unclean data).
  • Create a plan to improve your existing data based on your marketing objectives, including appending key data elements or capturing preferences and interests with forms or surveys.
  • Consult with the experts including Goose Digital if you are not sure how to run some or all of the above processes or don’t have the resources available. We would love to help!

Data and insights-driven marketing has been proven to add value to any company’s bottom line. Better targeted and value-driven marketing enables prospects and customers to see how your products and services align with their wants and needs. Customers are demanding this level of personalization and organizations that are able to remove data roadblocks like silos and are able to take action on consolidated data will be the best position to deliver.

Need help with your own data and insights? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.