7 Myths of Data-Driven Marketing

As marketers become increasingly data-driven, more doesn’t automatically translate into better.


7 Myths of Data-Driven Marketing
As marketers become increasingly data-driven, more doesn’t automatically translate into better.

Since data delivers accuracy, efficiency, and engagement, it’s easy to believe that the more data we have, the better we can find prospects, learn what they need, and convert them to customers.  But using more data isn’t at the heart of being data driven. At the heart of being data driven is using better data.

Better data is strategically managed so it becomes usable. It is validated and verified, cleansed, complete, de-duplicated, enriched, and governed. Of the companies that maintain high data standards, twenty-six percent are significantly increasing their budget for data-driven marketing. Cleary, these companies have learned that investing in data management pays off.

Many marketers I talk with miss a critical point of what it means to be data-driven. Without realizing it, they are shaped by outdated beliefs—persistent myths—that limit their ability to execute on their data-driven goals. Root out the mythical thinking, though, and marketers can quickly uncover great insights with low effort.

Here are the most common myths I hear about data-driven marketing, and how those beliefs limit results.

Myth No. 1: Data-driven decisions are enough.

Shifting away from “gut instinct” in favor of data-supported decisions is a big first step toward data-driven marketing, but you can’t stop there. Data-driven marketers also need to be concerned with the collection and support of high-quality data over the long haul.

Only 16 percent of organizations think their data is of “very good” quality. Once bad data goes in, you can expect to get bad results out. Using poor data for data-driven marketing limits marketing effectiveness and deteriorates the customer experience.

Kim Salem-Jackson, senior vice president of worldwide field marketing and business development at Informatica, drives the point home:

“When people hear ‘data driven’ they think of using data, not making data usable. Being a data-driven marketer means investing in your data, making sure you have the data you need when you need it, and using high quality data to fuel your marketing decisions and programs.”

Myth No. 2: All you need is marketing data.

Over-reliance on data from marketing applications only is a common mistake. After all, until recently that’s all the data we had! But times have changed, and now you need to cast a wide net in order to fully optimize your marketing outcomes.

Sales, customer service, finance, order management and even social media data are all relevant to your marketing efforts. For example, how would you know when it’s the best time to contact a customer to upsell based on a past purchase? To make that decision wisely you’ll need to know if they have an outstanding service issue or unpaid invoices. Marketing data alone is no longer enough.

Myth No. 3: Your customer contact data is fine the way it is.

In a perfect world, customers would create one login, all have unique names, and never change their contact info. Sadly, we do not live in a perfect world. It’s typical to have multiple instances of a single customer in your data, some with misspellings, out-of-date names or addresses, and none with a complete, consistent view of that customer’s information.

To support data-driven marketing, you need to validate and verify contact information so that an email or phone call reaches its destination. And you need to merge duplicates, purge out-of-date entries, and give the whole team access to the same high-quality data.

Myth No. 4: Your product data is fine the way it is.

Even marketers who actively validate and verify customer contact data often make the mistake of assuming their product data is high quality. But product data can also have errors that send customers elsewhere – including duplicates, missing information, and inconsistent or inaccurate descriptions. Complete product data also helps with SEO and getting to the top of search – extremely benefit if you get it right and costly if you don’t.

Even when the existing data is good, product data benefits from enrichment. For example, including high quality images, videos, and variant information can increase conversion results by up to 25%. You might also include any third-party reviews or articles about the product.

Myth No. 5: Your agency can give you a single view of customer (SVOC).

There’s nothing wrong with using an agency. The flaw is believing your agency is capable of managing your end-to-end customer data. An agency can be a good choice for specific marketing outreach needs, such as delivering hyper-targeted digital ads via display, search, mobile, or even social media. But an agency only uses a slice of your total customer data An agency will never have a full end-to-end view of your customer.

Data-driven marketing requires comprehensive—not partial—data management and visibility to your customer across your business. An agency may have very specific data management competencies that focus on delivering qualified leads, but it is not a specialist in data management. I’m a strong believer that when something is as strategic as creating a single view of a customer, there is no substitute for controlling your own destiny.

Myth No. 6: You can use CRM for customer data management.

7 Myths of Data-Driven Marketing
Myth No. 6: You can use CRM for customer data management.

CRM vendors are fond of promoting that their solution will deliver a “360 degree view of your customers.” But for the vast majority of companies, a truly 360 degree view goes beyond the scope of a CRM application.

Companies today are complex, with multiple sales organizations using multiple tools—even multiple CRM systems–to manage customer relationships. This complexity fragments customer data across teams and technology, making it impossible for any single CRM tool to deliver on its “360” promises. Add on mergers and acquisitions activity and you’ve just compounded the problem of anticipating any one CRM solution to easily streamline all your customer data.

The truth is that CRM is designed to automate sales processes, not to do data management. Relying on CRM as a data management solution is guaranteed to deliver poor results because:

  1. CRM isn’t the primary tool for every customer-focused process, leaving some data out of the system
  2. merging duplicate data in CRM isn’t always supported due to transactional histories and other ancillary data that could be lost while combining records
  3. different instances of CRM solutions may rely on different ways to organize and structure the data, which further muddles merges and prevents data consistency
  4. CRM systems favor getting the data into the system over high data quality, making duplicates and low-quality entries inevitable

Data management is much too important to customer interactions to rely on tools and processes that aren’t up to the challenge.

Myth No. 7: Your marketing data warehouse can support your data analytics needs.

Marketing data warehouses can give marketers very precise data for business intelligence and reporting. For example, they are generally perfect for answering pre-determined questions, such as what segment best responded to a campaign. But at the rate that data changes today, your single source of truth can become out of sync very quickly if the data isn’t actively managed.

Further, a data warehouse cannot effectively manage the content from new or unstructured sources of data such as digital notes, clickstream, social media, or the internet of things. Increasingly, marketers leverage these types of data to optimize the customer experience. As a result, a marketing data lake should be considered for advanced data-driven marketing, by facilitating collection of any type of data in one place for analytics.

Putting data first

Great marketers know that insights from partial, incomplete and inaccurate data is no longer good enough to achieve their goals. To excel in marketing, it requires great data—cleansed, consolidated, and consistent—across all of your systems that touch the customer. So, if you want to drive better marketing results using data, remember to put data first.

More resources for data-driven marketers

If you’re looking for more insights into how to do data-driven marketing right in a big data world, our marketing page has many great resources. Check out: www.informatica.com/marketing

Ten Principles for Data Driven Marketing


The Secret of Successful Data-Driven Marketers from Informatica