While everyone knows marketing data integrity is incredibly important, our industry-wide efforts to address the issue aren’t keeping pace with the proliferation of bad data.
In fact, a recent Ascend2 Research survey (November 2015) found that “Improving data quality” was overwhelmingly the No. 1 “Most Challenging Obstacle to data-driven marketing success.”
The consequences of dirty data will skyrocket
Reasons abound for the causes of poor data quality, and Integrate has published an entire eBook on the subject. But what’s rarely discussed is how the negative effects of these data issues are only multiplying as technology adoption and customer engagement tactics advance.
In the rapidly advancing marketing environment, we marketers need to become far more vigilant in our maintenance of data integrity. Here a just a few 2016 marketing trends that show why poor data integrity will be more harmful to marketers this year than ever before:
1. Data usage requirements from marketing automation and CRM systems will continue to rise, exacerbating the problem
There are two ways to look at this. First, most organizations will be looking to expand their prospect pipeline (database) in the coming year. This will obviously increase data usage and marketers will need to learn how to better separate the wheat from the chaff.
Second, and less discussed, more and more data is becoming available for each contact or account via your numerous systems, tools and data partnerships. Demand for such data will only grow – in an effort to improve customer personalization – but the MarTech landscape will likely begin consolidating this year, allowing vendors to raise data usage rates as marketers become more dependent on customer and prospect information.
This all means that eliminating inaccurate, duplicate or dated information will be pivotal if marketers are to keep their budgets from exploding.
2. Demand marketing “orchestration” will put marketers at the mercy of their data
MarTech capabilities will only expand in 2016. This is going to result in an increased focus on what we’re beginning to call marketing orchestration – the precise, harmonious coordination of all marketing elements (people, tech, etc.) so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, like a symphony.
These days, marketing teams are dealing with tech stacks made up of 20 components or more. Such complexity requires deeper commitment to coordinating each tool and system effectively and understanding how exactly these networks of technology communicate and contribute to overall customer experience and business value.
Of course, the arrangement of all marketing technology, programs, people, etc. is completely dependent on access to accurate information. Just as the Los Angeles Philharmonic relies on sheet music, so too must marketers rely on quality data if their marketing orchestration efforts are to succeed.
If data integrity is lacking, marketers’ orchestration efforts will falter. The result: billions of dollars wasted engaging the wrong audiences, via the wrong media, using the wrong messages at the wrong time.
3. Outbound marketing is becoming more important as the gains from inbound plateau
2015 witnessed a substantial resurgence in outbound B2B marketing efforts. As I argued in a post last May, any company that’s seeking to scale and develop a predictable customer pipeline must construct a strong outbound demand marketing program to complement its inbound efforts.And it’s not just me saying this. Liz Du, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing at Seagate Global Online, probably said it best during an interview last July:
“I think we [marketers] must absolutely recognize that you can’t expect to reach your entire audience by just pushing traffic to your site through those inbound methods. You need to expand your strategy to include relevant channels where your audiences are already having those conversations. …to balance both inbound and outbound initiatives.”
In 2016 more marketers will be on a mission to make outbound initiatives more like their inbound programs – that is to say, integrated, automated, personalized, easily analyzed and adjusted, etc.
Such an effort will require greater data integrity since outbound programs inherently involve more moving parts and often third-party involvement as well. The effects of poor data quality are magnified by each additional process required of an outbound initiative, so increasing data integrity will be pivotal if marketers hope to see these efforts boost demand production.
These three trends alone will likely create a sort of crises of information among marketers in the coming year. I wish I could say that the industry will get a hold of it quickly. Yet, it’s more probable that such a crises will grow in 2016 and it won’t be until 2017 that the majority of marketers invest greater resources to get their data integrity issues under control.
The good news is that those organizations who pivot quickly to reign in data quality concerns will outpace their competitors’ growth. As with everything, challenges for the many present opportunity for the few.