What's In Your Data?

Everyone talks about it.  Everyone swears by it.  Most people say that data is an integral part of their marketing program.  However, time and time again, I talk to people about their data, and specifically what role it plays in their marketing programs, and it is not being used to drive messaging or marketing segmentation.  It’s not being used for testing or predictive modeling.  Most of the time, they are not even capturing the right data to be able to do any relevant data analytics.  Why is that?  Is it all for show and tell?  Why is data so important? 

Data itself is useless.  Data can’t take out the trash or close a new customer.  It’s just information.  It’s how we use that data that makes all the difference in the world.  We can reference it, manage it, manipulate it, analyze it, etc.  In the end, it is what we DO with data that makes it important.  The question is then simple: What are you doing with your data?

In today’s environment of increasing pressure to prove marketing ROI, it still amazes me that relatively few companies are using data as a fundamental part of their marketing decisions.  People are starting to use data as a reference point which is great start.  However, they fall short of the analytics and insight to bring that data into actionable decisions and marketing plans.  In most cases, it’s just simply a lack of knowledge and resources.  They don’t have the right people to interpret the data.  In others, they are simply not collecting the right data and don’t know how to do it.

One of the most common issues I run into with marketing departments is access to the data.  Time and time again, I talk to organizations that are collecting a fair amount of data but cannot access the data in a timely basis or, in some cases, they cannot access the data at all.  Sometimes they just can’t get a single view of the prospects and customers because the data resides in multiple databases at multiple locations.  Before any analysis can be done, the data needs to be aggregated into a single flat file or relational database.  Once this is done, they are able to see the power and the potential of their data.

Data is powerful knowledge that is only limited by the creativity of the person wielding it.  Often I meet people that just can’t see the potential in their existing data.  They don’t see it as one of their greatest assets.  To them, it’s just a database.  Where they see data, I see trends, patterns, and market segments.  It can help you find the right messaging and find new growth opportunities.  I see complex behavior patterns that can predict future response.  There is the potential answer to all your questions and it’s all just two clicks away.  So, what’s in your data?

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