Once entrepreneurs understand and embrace the many benefits tied to marketing data optimization, leaders can start to identify and monitor the most important streams of information available on client behaviors and preferences. The first step to fully optimizing marketing data to boost revenue streams and the client experience is to determine all available sources and start mining for insights that can be applied throughout operations. From there, entrepreneurs must work with marketing leadership to analyze the data points and refine reporting features to ensure all information being used is helpful, up-to-date and reliable.

Without conducting a sort of due diligence on data streams, entrepreneurs may find themselves making important business decisions on less than substantial data analytics. This, in turn, can negatively impact short- or long-term strategies, leaving a business or financial analyst firm worse off than before the analytics were utilized. Likewise, not taking full advantage of the most up-to-date statistics and trends will leave small businesses one step behind more data-savvy competitors looking to operate ahead of the curve. Thoughtful, insight and clever reporting on data streams can enable predictive analytics, which helps companies present specific messages and offerings to target audiences before they have the opportunity to express demand for it. Staying at the forefront of client behaviors and patterns will help a small business blossom quickly and surpass well-established competition.

How reliable is your data?
The State of Marketing Data 2013 benchmark report assessed the health and maintenance of many marketing databases across a variety of industries and markets. The research graded marketing data reliability, performance and benefits to the company based on four key characteristics: record duplication, completeness, deliverability and connectivity.

Because a marketing campaign’s success or effectiveness is only as strong as the data supporting the effort, entrepreneurs cannot overlook the value of proper data management strategies and technology. It is imperative that marketing teams have access to data storage and analytics solutions to comb through information, eradicate corrupted or duplicate files and ensure key points are not lost over time. Unfortunately, many companies are not grasping the value of proper data maintenance and may be at risk of engaging clients while operating under outdated or inaccurate data.

The study revealed the average score of marketing reliability was a 2.7 out of 5, suggesting most databases are unreliable and the information provides questionable insight at best. While many companies are conscious of the need to manage duplicates to reduce unnecessary spending, many are not integrating the client information across numerous channels of communication, such as client relationship management and digital communications. In addition, the research showed:

  • 64 percent are risking sales and marketing results by leveraging unreliable databases
  • More than 25 percent of data quality problems are sourced from client data entry errors and have totaled $600 billion in unnecessary spending in the U.S. each year
  • Untargeted email campaigns, for example, can cost 3.6 times as much as targeted efforts, underscoring the high return on investment possible with up-to-date data streams
  • Companies that conduct consistent data maintenance and hygiene efforts generate seven times as many inquiries from clients and four times as many leads than less tended to databases

The risk of falling short of revenue goals should be reason enough to adhere to a strict data maintenance program. But entrepreneurs should understand the use of accurate data streams can also increase conversion rates, improve brand reputation, strengthen the bottom line and ensure a long-term sustainable plan of communications with the client. Data hygiene is key to a strong analytics strategy.

Sources of Qualitative Data
True, data streams are coming into business computing systems at a rapid rate, but there are many untapped sources of client insight still waiting to be discovered. Many marketing departments may feel as if the data streams available are enough to drive targeted campaigns. However, proactive interactions with clients to extract key insights can accelerate the process of converting statistics into valuable insight. Therefore, entrepreneurs should encourage marketing teams to seek out specific datapoints regularly to stay abreast of the trends and demands of the public. Marketing leadership can:

  • Ask representatives from other departments such as sales and client relationship management about what clients are relaying to the company in terms of complaints, inquiries and appreciation. Understanding what clients are saying directly to the company will help influence future campaigns.
  • Contact customers directly to ask them specific questions upfront, once a relationship has been established. This can provide marketing teams with the opportunity to ask follow-up questions that would normally not occur during a client service or sales call.
  • Conduct a client survey to get answers from customers without taking time out of their busy schedules, such as offering a discount for those who complete the questionnaire after making a transaction.
  • Analyze on-site behavior with advanced tools that measure website visitor activities, where most of the time is being spent and what pages are being overlooked. Pinpointing exactly where on the website clients are most engaged or bored will help advance digital strategies.

The use of marketing data to guide decision making and innovation is an evolving process. Entrepreneurs must continually revamp marketing efforts and monitor client behavior closely to ensure targeted messages and offerings are reaching the appropriate audiences.