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How can I manage my marketing data more efficiently?

Managing marketing data can seem like an overwhelming task. Mobile, tablets and social have all transformed the buyer landscape and the way marketers reach their customers and prospects. That said, sophisticated marketing technologies have made it easier for marketing departments of all sizes to augment their databases and "fast-path" their way to more comprehensive information on targets. The bottom line is, your technology platform is only as powerful as the data at your fingertips. It's well worth the time to take a careful look at your current database and how you might improve it. Think of the process as building a comprehensive data blueprint for your organization, with the goal of aggregating data into your marketing automation platform and transforming it into the "marketing database of record." Here are four steps to help you move toward a master database:
  1. Consider every way that your customers are interacting with you. Start big and look across channels, platforms/devices, and both online and offline. Many companies today depend on an email-centric marketing database, yet modern buyers expect a relationship across all channels—email, Web, social, SMS, check-ins, etc.
  2. Determine what data would enhance the experience. Prioritize the importance of pieces of data, depending on which types of information would be most helpful. This will help you down the road as you're deciding where to begin in your move toward building a revitalized database.
  3. Think about how you might capture and integrate this data. Different pieces of data will require different legwork to capture. To capture a contact's cross-platform activity and build a full view of their digital identity, you'll need a plan.
  4. Look at outside experts that can append additional data to your records. In some cases, there may be gaps in your data that third-party vendors can help fill. Let's say you want to change your website content depending on a visitor's profession but you lack the resources to collect this data. A third party could append these industry classifications or codes, allowing you to transform the customer experience more quickly and effectively than you could on your own.
Ellen Valentine is a product evangelist for Silverpop Systems (www.silverpop.com), a digital marketing technology provider.
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