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Get a grip on your data

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All marketers are guilty of neglecting their data at some point. We understand that numbers are important, but our competing creative side is bored with the monotony of data entry and updates. With the real-time flow of information, the data world demands constant updating—if you don't keep up, your business data will quickly go bad. When your information is out of date, your messages aren't hitting your target audiences. Leads slow down, and so does your company's growth. While the flow of real-time information has increased, what hasn't changed is that marketers still need to have control over their data in order to fill the funnel with prospects. Get a grip on your data with these three steps and reap the benefits of a full funnel:
  • Zero in on what matters. With the data buffet available to marketers today, it's easy to become a glutton. The problem is the time wasted collecting, sorting and sharing irrelevant data could have been spent on refining the data points that mean the most to your customers. More isn't always better; instead, zero in on what's most impactful to your business and keep it up-to-date. This year, get the most from the Big Data buzz by defining the stats that closely tie to your business and help your team the most. Select the necessary data components and forget the rest.
  • Create a framework. Once you know what information your team needs to be successful, creating guidelines and a framework for data input is a must. As you look through your databases today, chances are you have more than a few empty fields. It may not seem like a big deal, but over time standards will drop and your database will deteriorate. The best way to avoid a bad database is to understand the information needed for success and require that your team inputs the designated data when they add a new contact. In addition to new contacts, hold your team accountable for regularly updating their records. Or better yet, invest in a service that will update your information automatically through crowdsourcing.
  • Maintain visibility between sales and marketing teams. After data points are agreed upon and baseline requirements established, making that information accessible is the next step to keep your head above water. For years information has been hidden behind IT gatekeepers. Marketing and sales teams would make requests for lists and eventually receive stale databases in a first-come, first-served manner. But now the cloud has enabled the democratization of data across departments. Sales and marketing teams can update and share information on the Web to take advantage of the most recent data possible. Data can be a difficult component of the marketing mix to master. It's not as attractive as creating fun campaigns, but it's crucial to customer success and business growth. By defining necessary information, establishing baseline requirements and improving transparency, marketers can maximize their data's potential. Shannon Duffy is VP-marketing at Salesforce's Data.com. She can be reached at sduffy@salesforce.com.
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