Data Is a Rock Star – If Not Managed Well, It Will Trash the Place

(This is part of the TEMT “The Disruptive Exhibitionist – Unconventional Tips, Tricks and Tools” training programme)

Data management is one of the keys of marketing automation but it isn’t just about backing up files or storing data in the cloud. Those activities are part and parcel of the fundamentals you should know about keeping your files in place, but that’s certainly not the end of it. You should also ensure that your data is properly protected and easily retrievable.

You’ll be bombarded with more data than ever before. Contrary to what you might have been led to believe, there really is no one-size-fits-all solution to storing data. It’s important for you to have a certain level of familiarity with how much and what type of data you have, as well as know your reason behind wanting to store all your information. That way, you can decide whether you should be building on-site data storage solutions, or if you’re better off leveraging on the cloud for backing up files.

Make sure to look at these data management best practices before you start with marketing automation so that you can be sure to follow the best practices for managing your data.

·       Don’t require fields. When you are creating a form or landing page, don’t require fields to be filled out. If you do require it, you will find 65 percent of your data to be false. The only field that should be required is the e-mail address.

·       Data augmentation is key. Try to use secondary data sources. This means that if you ask people for their e-mail, you can use a data vendor to give you all the other data you require. This approach keeps your database clean because you’re not requiring fields to be filled out.

·       Refresh. Your data has an expiration date — and this goes for e-mail addresses especially. Do your best to find the average tenure of your key demographic. Most marketers change jobs every 2.5–3 years, so if your demographic is marketers, it is out of date every 3 years.

·       Learn over time. Another great trick is to ask questions over time to get data points on people. This is usually called progressive profiling.

·       Behavioral data is better than demographic data. Remember that what people are doing is going to be more important than who they are. Getting this data will be easy with marketing automation.

·       Big data . . . forget it. Big data really isn’t something you should worry about. You’ll get what “dig data” truly is with the basic lead tracking from your marketing automation tool. Concern yourself with small data; you’ll find it easier to manage, and your campaigns will be more effective. Small data includes what web pages people look at, how long they stay on the site, and other actions and behaviors they exhibit.

·       Know the business value of your data. Knowing the value of your data will help you define what your storage strategy should be, and what policies or protocols you should follow. Asking the right questions and finding out the answer will inform what route you will take. These questions include, but are not limited to: If the data disappears, how soon should I have it? How long should the data be stored? What security measures must I adhere to? How fast should I be able to access the data?

·       Be familiar with your industry’s compliance needs. Depending on the kind of business you’re in, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of what you need to remain fully compliant in choosing your data management solutions. Typically, the financial services or healthcare industry come to mind when it comes to highly-regulated industries that follow strict protocols. Publicly traded companies must likewise adhere to certain laws to ram in fully compliant. Failure to adhere to the rules could lead to steep penalties somewhere down the line.

·       Let go of redundant data. Don’t keep every bit of information you have available. Analyze your data; identify which ones are valid, which ones are old or dated, and take note of database performance. Choose the most reliable source of your data, and delete extra copies.

·       Have a data recovery plan in place. What use does your back up data have if you’re unable to recover it when the unforeseen strikes? It’s not enough to have your business data securely in place; you should know what steps to take when the need to activate your data recovery methods takes place. Do regular and random testing, ideally on a weekly basis, and also include an auditing team to take a look at your data pools.

·       Always prioritize data security. Data must be secured, both virtually and physically as well as encrypted, just in case your information is hacked by unscrupulous third parties. One way to physically secure data is by backing up data to tape and housing it in an outside location, so that in the case of force majeure, it’s possible to recreate the data or the whole system, as needed.

·       Make sure your stored data can be found once it’s in storage. Don’t bury your data under piles and piles of archives or elaboration encryption methods. While security is important, it is equally vital for you to be able to easily search the data and get correct information instantly, especially in urgent situations like in an event of a litigation or some other proceedings that will require accurate data given in a timely manner.

·       Outsource your data management activities to a reliable vendor. Doing so allows you to focus on your business’s core competency while experts in data management solutions take care of your data storage needs. Hiring an offsite expert is a cost-effective means of keeping your data safe and secure because reliable vendors take the time to know the latest technology and compliance updates and apply these solutions to your business. A good data management outsourced solution can also give you expert advice on the best course of action to take.


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