We’ve all been there. Data meltdown, breach of email policy, automation gone wrong, rogue emails… Marketing teams all over the world are battling the same data demons. But what is the key to flawless data management? Is there a fast-track to marketing data compliance – or are we all at the mercy of the fickle gods of CRM technology?
The bigger the database, the bigger the headache
Data management has always been one of the hardest marketing nuts to crack. There are so many moving parts to data handling; especially when you start plugging in things like email systems, syncing tools, sign-up forms, and manual entry processes.
As technology evolves, so does the functionality that can help us do a better job. But often, the challenge lies not in the tools themselves, but in the processes and policies. We either set the wrong ones, or we breach the right ones. But when it happens, we all know that Marketing will typically be at the receiving end of the reprimand. This is why marketing teams should work with both Sales and IT to reduce the risk exposure as much as possible.
The 5 keys to flawless list management
1. Integrity (permissions)
It’s not just marketers who are switched on when it comes to data integrity and permissions – the average recipient is, too. Most international email marketing policies now dictate that an “active opt-in” is required in order to send marketing communications. As this is now widely known, you can expect to receive complaints from your database if you ignore it. At worst, you can be reported for unwanted solicitation and end up being blacklisted.
The best policy here is to always stay on top of current regulations – and ensure your recipients know how they ended up on your marketing list in the first place.
By only allowing opted-in recipients on your email lists, you will inevitably end up with a smaller email database – but a more engaged one.
Your customer and prospect data is incredibly valuable. Just as with tangible assets, it shouldn’t be allowed to be handled by just anyone. Make sure you have a clear view on who has access to your data and what they are allowed to do with it.
- Don’t have a CRM system? Get one. Immediately.
- Have a limiting CRM system? Invest in a better one.
- Don’t have a super admin? Appoint one.
Until you centralise and control the data access within your organisation, you will always have a risk window.
Of course, it helps to get the data input right to begin with. Even in this modern marketing age, there are still rogue traders out there, preying on marketing professionals who need to get their hands on fresh data quickly. Often there are few guarantees that purchased static data is in fact up to date, responsibly sourced, accurate and relevant, so buying this type of data is rarely a good idea. It is much better to work with a reputable syndication partner, run automated lead generation campaigns or work actively with partners to build a reliable influx of records.
- Is it slower? Yes.
- Is it worth the wait? Totally.
Continuously updating, cleaning and culling records is just as important as acquiring it. Yet, somehow, it’s a task that many marketing organisations fail to create a plan around. Mainly because it’s notoriously difficult! However, the first step towards compliance is maintenance.
Assign the role of “Record Police” to a trusted team member and give them a schedule for a quarterly, monthly and weekly cleaning procedure. This will help reduce the number of duplicates, misspellings and data gaps that can cause you trouble further down the line.
Now, of course, the main reason you have customer and prospect data in the first place is so you can communicate with it. There can sometimes be a fine line between engaging with your data and over-using it. What is a reasonable frequency for emailing your audience, for example? There is no simple answer. It will depend entirely on what your audience prefers – and if you don’t know, I suggest you ask them. Some organisations swear by their daily email updates, while others prefer a monthly round-up email.
As long as the reader knows what to expect when they sign up to your email list, you’ll generally be fine. It’s when you start increasing your communications unexpectedly that you’re likely to get people hitting the unsubscribe button. Which brings us nicely to the topic of opting out.
When you do email your contacts (or send them direct mail too, for that matter), make sure you adhere to good marketing communications standards. Give people the option to unsubscribe, without difficulty.
People will unsubscribe, regardless of how good your communications are. Some people just don’t want to receive it. However, those who are left will generally be more receptive and interested in your business.
If you always aim to keep best practices in mind, you are already on your way to having a healthy database and data management procedures. The key is to ensure you have processes and policies firmly in place, dedicated responsibilities, and a genuine respect for your data. It is, after all, worth a great deal of money.
What does your data management nightmare look like? Let us know about the worst marketing data management issues you have seen. Post your story on our Facebook page and be in with a chance to win a copy of Åsa Magnusson’s new book Hunting with Tigers – the Marketer’s Career Survival Guide!