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As digital marketing evolves, data management is becoming the backbone of a good online marketing strategy. Having clean, quality, reliable data that gives strong insight into your customer data and behavior patterns is essential to creating marketing campaigns and automations that properly nurture your leads and turn them into buying customers.

To ensure your company’s data quality, you must follow these data management best practices. Otherwise, you could end up with dirty data that causes issues with your campaign targeting and your marketing automation.

Let’s dive into these seven best practices.

1. Outline your business goals.

You don’t want to jump straight into the deep end when it comes to data management. Start small by outlining exactly what your goals are with your company’s data. Knowing what you plan to do with the data you collect can help you to keep only the information that is relevant to your goal, ensuring that your data management software doesn’t get overcrowded and unorganized. 

Too many companies keep and continue to store way too much data for which they have absolutely no use. By keeping only the data that your company is going to use, you’re helping to keep your data management software, well, for lack of a better word, manageable.

A few example goals your business might have are:

  • Improve decision-making
  • Create/improve automations and processes
  • Audience targeting/create a buyer profile
  • Find customer buying habits/patterns
  • Train sales and marketing teams on data use

There are so many more things you could plan to do with your data, but it’s essential to start by outlining your goals. Your business data goals will direct your data management processes so you don’t end up with tons of data that is completely irrelevant to your company’s needs.

2. Prioritize data protection and security.

First of all, this is an essential step to take to ensure your company doesn’t fall victim to a data breach and endanger the information of your entire customer base. If we’ve learned anything from Facebook, it’s that people really don’t like it when unknown sources gain access to their personal data. Data protection and security need to be a number one priority when it comes to your business’s data management.

Especially with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) that came out in the EU last year (impacting not only businesses that operate within the EU, but all businesses who market and sell to customers that reside within the EU) and other nations likely to follow suit in the near future, it’s crucial for your company to follow all applicable guidelines to ensure the privacy of your leads and customers.

Using proper data management software can help ensure the safety and security of your data, and complying with GDPR and other regulations when it comes to collecting data can also improve your data protection. Put the right people in charge of your data and ensure your team members know how to handle the data they work with properly.

Finally, put together some type of plan or course of action to take if there is a suspected data breach within your company. Ideally, this will never happen, but it’s still a good idea to have some sort of strategy for how to handle a potential breach.

3. Focus on data quality.

Although, as we outlined in the first section, limiting your data to only the necessary information your company needs to meet its goals is a great way to improve data quality, there are so many more steps to take to ensure the data your company is collecting remains clean and reliable.

First, data should be regularly checked for accuracy as old data can become outdated and irrelevant to your sales and marketing teams. Outdated or stale data should be purged from your data management software often to keep it from negatively impacting your automations, analytics, and other processes within your sales and marketing departments.

Another step to take to help your team focus on data quality within your data management is to train all team members who have access to the data about the proper ways to collect and input data. Most ways are likely to be automated, but if you have team members setting up these automations or instances where data may be manually added to your CRM or data management software, training is a necessity. This keeps data from being input incorrectly, thus preventing problems down the line.

Ensure the data is checked and cleaned before it is used in any analytics or reporting to improve the accuracy of all metrics pulled from said data. Making data quality a top priority (closely following data security) helps to keep all aspects of your company’s data use clean and reliable.

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4. Reduce duplicate data.

There are many ways that your company could receive duplicate data from a lead or customer, and you should have processes in place to handle potential redundancies. If a lead is opting into multiple lead magnets or offers, or if a customer is returning to make another purchase, ensure your company has processes in place to avoid duplicate data being added to your data management system.

Although many companies may not think about this when first setting up their data management, it’s essential to create systems that allow data to be updated or changed when someone opts in more than once or makes a return purchase. Putting in precautions when it comes to duplicate data and redundancies is just another way to ensure your data stays clean.

5. Ensure your data is readily accessible to your team.

There’s a fine line between security and convenience when it comes to accessing your data. You want it to be absolutely impossible for someone without the proper permissions to gain access to your company’s customer data, but you don’t want authorized personnel on your sales and marketing teams to have to jump through hoops just to access the information they need to do their everyday job.

It’s a smart idea to set up particular logins and access permissions for people based on their specific role/data needs. Executives or team leaders who may need to access more customer data than analysts or sales representatives need to have more permissions than those who only need certain types of data. This also helps to ensure protection for your customer data within your own company. Setting up different levels of permissions makes it easier for your team members to access the necessary data rather than trying to set up blanket rules and permissions that can cause issues, be too restrictive in some cases, or be too open in others.

6. Create a data recovery strategy.

Because accidents happen, it’s important for your business to have some kind of data recovery strategy in place. Losing access to all of your customer data could be extremely detrimental to your marketing campaigns, marketing automations, and sales strategies. If someone were to make a mistake and delete some or all of your data, if your accounts were to somehow get shut down, or if your CRM or data management software were to go under, you need to have a backup or recovery plan in place.

Come up with a solution that makes sense for your business. Try regularly exporting your data so that you still have a file with all of the information saved on a hard drive, or upload it to a cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox. Make sure your account has security permissions in place in case you were to get locked out. Create backups of all data so that you can quickly and easily restore it if anything were to happen.

7. Use a quality data management software.

Finding good software is an essential step in creating a quality data management process for your company. Investing in the wrong data management software can cause issues upon issues. Whether it’s too complex for your team to understand, too large of a system for your business’s needs (some data management companies only focus on enterprise companies rather than businesses of all shapes and sizes), or not secure enough for your business to feel comfortable relying on, there’s a lot that goes into finding the perfect data management software for your needs.

You want to find a customer data platform that is going to give you clear and accurate insight into your leads and customer data, and that helps you engage with your audience in a precise and timely manner. Your customer data platform should be making the jobs of your sales and marketing teams easier by automatically enriching and cleaning the data to ensure that you have the most accurate and complete view of your data possible.

If you invest in the wrong customer data platform right off the bat, you’re costing your company money in having to relearn a new system, retrain staff on properly inputting data, and recreate your processes surrounding data input.

Download The Modern Marketer’s Guide to Building an Effective MarTech Stack to learn more about the role of a customer data platform in a B2B martech stack.

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