How Do You Create a Killer Data Strategy?

There is no straightforward answer on how to build a brilliant data strategy. The fact is, data strategy is like fashion: Different people have different fashion styles, and what’s in vogue one place might be undesirable in a different place only a short distance away.

A company with a well-oiled demand campaign machine has three things nailed down: data, inbound marketing execution with relevant content and a good nurture strategy. In this blog post I will be focusing on tips for a killer data strategy – and it’s pretty simple.

When it comes to data strategy, you need to focus on three main areas: the data you’re using, the information you’re putting together, and the way you present that information to your audience.

Build, Don’t Buy!

It’s the ugly truth – the days of purchasing lists are ending. First off, using purchased lists is expensive. As I discussed in my previous blog post, outbound activities (including emailing to purchased lists) cost more and have lower conversion rates when compared to inbound marketing activities.

Second, the purchased lists are a great way to get marked as spam, blacklisted, damage your sender score and IP reputation – and that is certainly something you want to avoid. The chart on the right from MailChimp shows the effect of a list correlation with purchased lists on spam complaints. The more a list correlates to a purchased list, the higher the spam complaints.

Bottom line: if you use a list that has been created organically, your deliverability will increase and your chances of being blacklisted will decrease.

Bonus Tip: There are many ways to organically build vs. purchase your lists, a few examples are: blogging, hosting webinars, attending events, working with partners and hosting contests/promotions. Check out this video from HubSpot for more ideas.

Keep Data Clean

Having clean data means you know who you are interacting with.  You can contact them appropriately and more importantly, it ensures that you don’t accidentally send them the wrong information or something they are not interested in. I recently got an email from a photo company that said “congratulations on your new baby!”  My children are teenagers.

If a prospect isn’t engaging with your content, suppress them. According to HubSpot, suppressing anyone in your list who hasn’t engaged with your emails in over a year increases your deliverability rate by 3-5% immediately. Personally, I recommend giving a contact 3-4 times to engage and then pulling them out or adding to a suppression list. If you choose to keep these contacts in your database, you can always run a re-engagement campaign in the future.

Bonus Tip: Remember that you are paying to keep these records in your database if you are using a marketing automation system. Don’t let dirty data be a factor in having to jump to the next price level.

Know Your SPAM Laws – Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

I hope by now CASL has become a part of your daily or weekly vocabulary. The importance of understanding and preparing for CASL (as well as any changing or new spam laws) is crucial to the continued success of marketers in North America. Changing spam laws will impact who you can or cannot mail to. With CASL, if you are sending messages into Canada, you must follow the new regulations that will go into effect July 1st, 2014. I won’t dive deep into CASL in this blog post, but I encourage you to check out our recent post to get the scoop on what you need to know.

Enrich & Progressively Profile

Constantly look for ways to enrich your data. By using progressive profiling you can collect new data each time a prospect engages with your content. This will help feed your records with more useful information which you can use to establish where they are on their buyers journey, and point them in the right direction via great content. And, you’re not alone in this process, there are many companies that offer data enrichment services, such as Experian and Netprospex.

Segment & Standardize

Ensuring your emails and content are relevant to your audience is key. Segmentation allows you to send the right information to the right individuals at the right time. You want to target a prospect with information that aligns with both their buyer persona, as well as where they are along the buyers journey. This means – no two people are the same, so why send them the same content?

Here’s a few interesting stats that support segmentation:

A study by MailChimp found segmented lists had a 14% higher open rate than those that were not segmented.
In recent BlueBird Strategies fueled campaigns, we’ve seen up to 30-40% higher engagement with segmentation.
Hubspot highlighted a report from Lyris that stated segmented, targeted emails had increased open rates of 39%, 28% lower opt-out/unsubscribe rates and 24% increased sales leads, to name a few.

By standardizing data and putting things into buckets, you’ll have a much easier time scoring, segmenting and understanding the makeup of your database. It can be a grueling process, but is definitely worth the time and will contribute to your demand gen success.

Where to Start? Take a Database Snapshot

Taking a database snapshot will give you a look at the bigger picture. You’ll be surprised at the number of contacts that are unmailable or have incorrect, duplicate or missing fields. You can run reports to get a “snapshot” in Salesforce, Marketo and other tools such as NetProspex Health Scan to help you understand the current state of your data.

I hope these tips help you understand the power of data and encourage you to transform your data strategy. Make this part of an ongoing process because data is always changing (some say 30% of your records grow old each year), and consistently monitoring the quality of your data gives you an upper hand in knowing your buyer and being a true partner to them in their buying journey.

Conclusion

  • Your data strategy is an important part of your overall business strategy
  • Data and the insight that it provides can help you make better decisions
  • A good data strategy is essential for the development of products and services of the future
  • Data strategy is the ability to identify and use the most relevant data

A data strategy is a set of goals, objectives, and a roadmap for using data to drive your business forward. If you think of a typical business strategy as a destination, then think of a data strategy as a road map.

There is no one way to create a “killer” data strategy, but there are definitely some common elements you should consider including: identifying your organizational strengths and weaknesses when it comes to data, determining how you can best use your data to reach your goals, and identifying clear and specific action steps to move your business forward and put your strategy into action

About Faheem Rafique

The author is a digital marketer who loves technology, design, marketing and online businesses. He has pretty good experience in automation, strategies, digital marketing. We can help you to manage and build brands on the web.

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