It’s no secret that big data can spur innovation — even disruption — but it can also complicate marketing initiatives. Only about 22 percent of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates, according to research from Econsultancy. Marketers must have a comprehensive picture of customer interactions and campaign performance in order to understand where they went wrong. They need to integrate, analyze and use data effectively to maximize their marketing investments.
This task can be incredibly daunting for marketers — if not practically impossible. Analysis requires time and effort, and can lead to “analysis paralysis,” the state of mind and action that leads to no action at all. What’s more, data silos and dirty data can muddle the integrity of the 360-degree view that marketing requires. It can also lead to a lack of integration between systems and data input sources, which can make it difficult to extract value.
Data wrangling is the process of cleaning and unifying data for easier access and analysis. It creates order from the chaos of different data points and indicators, and creates an orderly framework. Here are four ways to elevate your data framework and tap into the enormous opportunities that today’s data environment offers.
Strategy #1: Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
We’ve all heard the story of Sisyphus in Greek mythology, who was forced to roll a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down. He was left to repeat this action for eternity. There are moments when marketers’ lives may feel the same. But you can get control of the boulder by coming to terms with a few new realities:
- Change is a constant. By the time you finally start to understand a customer and his or her preferences and behaviors, the signals change again. Therefore, have a more dynamic and flexible data framework in place.
- New tactics and trends are the norm. By the time you establish a strategy, there’s a new “must-have” or a new addition to the “optimal omnichannel experience.”
- New features, tools and systems drive process changes. You and your team are constantly adopting new tools in order to become more effective. However, these tools require new processes, workflows and data sources in order to break down silos and extract maximum value from your investments.
- Regulations may be challenging, but they aren’t going away. New regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have sent shockwaves through the marketing landscape, fueling additional initiatives from other states and countries. Expect new consumer data and privacy legislation in the future.
Takeaway: These four forces can create severe discomfort for marketers -- and set new ground rules to consider when executing campaigns.
Strategy #2: Adjust your threshold for success.
You may have established goals for your campaigns or maximum levels for your performance. Realize that with the passing of GDPR, CCPA and other new regulations, your thresholds for success may change. If you’re not willing to reexamine your objectives and rethink metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to reflect new realities, you may fall short. Here’s what you can focus on:
- Rethink ROI. At least over the short term, you may have to reduce your expectations about return on investment. You may also have to rethink what ROI means. For example, brand value and brand stickiness may represent a form of ROI. Data may also represent a long-term form of capital.
- Alter your expectations. You may need to change or delay your expectations for a period of time, especially as new guidelines, different processes and best practices go into effect. For example, credit marketers may need to tap supplemental data to enhance performance, or possibility shore up pre-screening campaigns. This approach may be expensive, but it can also deliver high value and align with new business conditions and requirements.
Takeaway: Rigid expectations and ROI objectives are not your friend. Goals and objectives are fine, but your organization must be fluid, reviewing and adjusting them to fit changing business conditions, regulatory requirements and customer behaviors.
Strategy #3: Always be nimble.
Agility and flexibility may sound like clichés, but they are the foundation for building a successful business and marketing organization. Here are two critical things to keep in mind:
- New solutions will come. The marketing tech industry (Martech) is evolving rapidly. It’s adapting to advances in technology, along with the need for solutions that manage data regulation. Over time, new and better solutions will stream into the market.
- Stay attuned to market trends. Keep an eye on business trends and understand changes and new approaches, such as unified IDs.
Takeaway: Ensure that your finger is on the pulse of business and technology trends within the marketing arena. Consider new products, solutions and services that match the changing requirements of today’s consumer — and government entities regulating data privacy and security.
Strategy #4: Embrace a crawl, walk and run approach.
Your enterprise will likely benefit by taking a consistent, strategic approach to creating seamless, omnichannel experiences in an age of heightened data awareness and transparency. The following steps can help you clear hurdles and take advantage of the opportunities data delivers:
- Start small and crawl. The first step is to focus on cleansing and integrating your existing data (first-party data) across the enterprise. Since you definitively know who your customer is, you can purchase financial, social and loyalty data with a high level of confidence that it's accurate and actionable.
- Move forward and walk. Next, integrate second-party sources. These include partners that have cleansed and integrated their first-party data. This provides a better understanding of who a consumer is on a deeper level. It extends your direct view.
- Walk faster. Plugging in third-party data delivers deeper-level understanding. This includes financial and other demographic data, outside web behavior data (via third-party sources), intent data from web searches, social networks and other inputs.
- Step up the pace and run. At this point, you can use first, second and third-party data to produce a more comprehensive view of your audience. You can also identify high-priority and high-opportunity customers based on specific factors that align with your marketing strategy. Finally, you can connect with intermediaries to onboard data and push targeted data to partners so that the right message is delivered, at the right time.
Takeaway: Your initiative will take flight when you establish a framework that measures results and delivers insights. This includes measuring success using attribution; assessing what worked and what didn’t work (and bridging gaps so that you can get to the next level); analyzing data performance; and steering investments based on your results.
Put Your Data to Work
Effective marketing is a difficult endeavor under any circumstances. Today’s environment adds layers of complexity that were unimaginable only a few years ago. But with all the complexity comes opportunity.
Realize that not all data is created equal. The end goal is better insights and better returns. Marketers that focus on evolving business conditions, build a framework that embraces agility, adopt more advanced marketing technology, and optimize processes are more likely to unlock the full value of data — and emerge as marketing innovators and leaders.
Let Equifax help you wrangle your data and “make your mark.” Learn more.
 HubSpot, “The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2019.” https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics