I’ve been thinking a lot about data-driven marketing the past few weeks, most recently I’ve been thinking about how hard having bad data makes our lives. I’ve come to 3 realizations:
Bad Data Makes Your Customers Crazy
Somewhere along the way I missed the exit to the “creative side” of marketing (1). Instead, I seem to constantly be in the midst of a project focused on figuring out how to build and manage data. Companies today acquire and store customer data at lightning speed, often different teams use and manage the data in different ways, sometimes creating their own separate repositories.
If you think of some of your most recent experiences that left you frustrated with a large company, it was likely due to mismanagement of your information. Most recently for me this was the rental car counter. I have few expectations of the rental car company. 1. Take the reservation and 2. hold the reservation (Bonus points if you got the Seinfeld reference.) Honestly, my expectation is that I have a car and that I be able to pick up and return without stopping at the rental car counter.
Two weeks ago upon my “preferred” rental car company’s big red board which normally directs me right to my space instead said the dreaded CTR (2 & 3). As I trudged to the counter, I was informed that my credit card had expired. Easy fix, gave them new card, came out from under my cloud of doom, and went on my merry way. This week, upon arrival at the same airport, I was again summoned by the big red board to stop at the dreaded counter instead of proceeding directly to my pre-reserved, mid-sized chariot. (4) The gentleman at the counter proceeded to inform me that my American Express card wasn’t able to be processed. To which I said, “Um, yes but I gave you a NEW MasterCard 2 weeks ago at this very counter.” Bad data makes your customers crazy.
Bad Data Makes Your Processes Inefficient
In my former corporate life, one of my biggest responsibilities was overseeing the team responsible for hundreds of different letters. The letters were highly dependent on data from upstream systems. In addition to standard demographic information there were generally very sophisticated calculations which would derive content and then populate personalize content into the letters. Very often the data was wrong… or it broke along the way. This lead our letters to be wrong. Which created calls to the call center. Which created complaints. Which created issue logs and break-fix projects and correction letters. Which created testing environments. Which created…you can see where I’m going here (5). We were in a constant state of fixing our bad data.
Not uncommon until you think about the time it took to actually do all that, in the meantime the error continued to churn out incorrect information. So we created quality assurance teams to check the data, strip it off and send it back for correction. We hired teams of people to shore up weak data going through unstable processes. Those teams took time to do their work, which slowed down our timeliness. A horrible case study in efficiency for the sake of accuracy. Bad data makes your process inefficient.
Bad Data Renders Your Marketing Materials Irrelevant
One of the recent start-ups I have seen present (Meet Me@) uses an example of sending a frozen yogurt coupon to an ice cream lover. While a relatively simplistic example of the impact of bad data, if you are the yogurt company you’ve wasted the cost of the coupon. The chances of the yogurt company having their own data is low so I’m really more concerned if you’re the agency who provided the “qualified” lead: you’ve wasted your client’s money on the coupon, and lost a bit of your own credibility on delivering qualified leads. (6)
Now we can take 2 paths with this, right? As a marketer, perhaps I want to try to convince my ice-cream loving targets to TRY my frozen yogurt. Something along the lines of “Think you don’t like frozen yogurt? We bet you a free cup we can change your mind!” THAT is relevant and meaningful. However, as it stands simply sending coupon with a save money message will be effort wasted. Bad data renders your marketing materials irrelevant.
What is the solution to all this? If you missed last week’s blog check out the role of Marketing Technologist (Read it here). If your company doesn’t have a marketing leader who understands your database management systems you likely need one. It’s becoming truer every day that Everything is Marketing, your data powers your relationship with your customers from customer care to welcome letters/emails. You need to get it right the first time
1. The land of logos and PMS color matching… you know, where the unicorns, leprechauns and Super Bowl ads live.
2. I’m preferred, dagnabbit, my card says so!
3. The company shall remain nameless but whose claim to fame is that they “Try harder!” Which is a whole other blog topic what a horrible tagline!)
4. Friggin’ fracking… grrrrr!
5. This is actually the best case scenario where it actually got fixed; generally it went into an IT queue and was schedule sometime in 2017
6. And sullied the good name of marketing