We’re at a point in the overall marketing automation maturity curve where any modern organization that engages their buyer and educates and guides them through the buying process has leveraged one or more marketing platforms to do so. In fact, the average marketing stack has progressed far past the point of necessity and into a space where the weight of the many tools’ marketers use has actually become overwhelming to their process, causing it to sink under the sheer mass of itself. In the name of digital transformation, we’ve gone a thousand miles wide and an inch deep, rabidly attempting to enable a conversation where the buyer feels empowered. Instead, the massive number of widgets the average marketer wields, often leave the buyer feeling alienated, automated and drowning in spam. With today’s abundant digital buying footprints, marketers should be seeing results like never before from their efforts, and yet ROI around these platforms continues to be a profession-wide issue and the average conversion rates from initial marketing driven interest to revenue struggles to break the 1% mark.
With today’s technology, and organizations investing in both on and offline marketing efforts at historic highs, why do we still continue to struggle?
The answer is as familiar as it is difficult to implement. Every tool that marketing has been blessed with in the last decade relies on clean, organized, well-architected data. Marketing automation is nothing more than a big ‘if/then’ statement and as such it requires good inputs organized in a way that makes decisioning effective. Once we react with a message or an action, we must then measure that action’s outcome and determine the next course of action. This can get complicated pretty quickly and, therefore, it’s equally important to walk before you run. By starting with a somewhat controlled environment, you eliminate variable overload and you can truly get to the heart of the buyer’s wants, needs and behaviors. This requires that we take stock of where we as marketers are truly starting from and to do that, we have to cleanse our database. Natural packrats, we see, on average across our customer base, database growth in the 45% to 60% range year over year. Most of this is incomplete, outdated or junk. There’s no way to scale an accurate decisioning engine if you have dirty data clogging it up.
For 2019, clean and purge your data. Refresh your ideal customer data profile and make an organization-wide commitment to collecting and stewarding that data with accuracy as the organizational edict. This cannot be an option; it has to be the standard. As a marketer, purging data may seem like a cardinal sin, but dirty data is not only clogging up your systems and costing you money. It’s also skewing your results and harming your ability to accurately communicate with your buyer. It’s literally harming your brand.
Make a commitment to organizing your data and putting as much effort into keeping it clean as you put into acquiring new data and “leads.” Consider hiring a Chief Data Officer or assigning the role to an existing exec. And really stick to it. For all of the money we invest in technology and campaigns, it simply doesn’t make sense to set ourselves up for failure before we even begin by building the foundation on sawdust. Oh, and all that talk you’ll hear about artificial intelligence and data science – data is at the heart of that too. There’s simply no escaping it and data cleanliness has gotten enough lip service over the years. In 2019, it’s time to finally put our focus where our mouths are.