Unlock better customer experiences with clean marketing data

The stakes for delivering personalized experiences are higher than ever. When customers give brands access to their data, they need to be able to trust that those brands will both protect it and use it to understand who they are and what they want. But when brands get these personalization moments wrong, it breaks that trust.

Clean data builds trust as it passes from marketing to sales through a company’s customer relationship management (CRM) platform. If that data is dirty — meaning data points are spelled incorrectly or missing entirely — it’s much harder to understand how that person has been engaging with the brand. And if the sales team doesn’t trust the data, they won’t be able to engage with customers properly.

The same goes for reporting. Take, for example, a global company that asks customers to input their information into one standardized form. When those customers fill out the form in their native language, it collects in the database in their native language as well. Now those data sets need to be translated, often creating wasted resources and a delay in reporting. By putting data governance practices into place early, you can ensure your data is usable, clean, and trusted.

Build a program around governance

Embracing clean data practices takes effort. It requires a partnership across CRM, web, and marketing teams with the common goal of creating better customer experiences. And as with any common goal, there needs to be priorities. Adobe Professional Services recommends three focus areas for creating clear data governance practices across both your Adobe Marketo Engage and CRM platforms.

1. Establish clear processes

Data can only stay clean if there are processes in place to keep it that way.

For example, a database that contains duplicates can’t produce a unified, 360-degree view of your customers. And if you can’t understand your customers, it can lead to branding and cross-communication issues — and potentially create situations where customers unsubscribe. Instead, establish a weekly or monthly routine to inspect your data or create an alert to identify when duplicates are created.

The same goes for processing demographic or firmographic information. The scoring results aren’t going to be accurate unless the data — information such as location, annual revenue, industry, job title, or role — is captured correctly. To keep these fields clean, use dropdowns to ensure that you are capturing correctly and can score appropriately.

List imports can be another source of unclean data. Make a habit of cleansing your files before uploading, and only upload trusted data that’s been quality assured and validated. Be skeptical of any untrusted data that hasn’t been tested, isn’t relevant, or hasn’t been used recently, and be sure to block those sources before importing to avoid accidentally overwriting any of your current data.

Using data append services can be a quick way to add additional information to a larger database behind the scenes. Instead of asking customers to fill out countless fields on a form, you can import some of that data from a third party. But like list imports, this process can also pose risks. When integrating with either Marketo Engage or your CRM, be sure to test the integration in your sandbox before setting it up in production to keep from importing data incorrectly.

While a data dictionary is usually created during CRM integration, keeping it up to date is another best practice. Use this resource to consistently document how each specific field is used. For example, the Marketo Engage team might use the standard data dictionary field called “company name” to capture an account name, while the CRM team might create a custom field called “ACCT name.” Documenting this information in your data dictionary creates efficiency by avoiding misguided uses, especially if outside consultants are hired for the CRM integration and leave two months later. When adding a new field to your database, make a practice of automatically updating its information in the data dictionary for future reference.

2. Validate permissions

Once your data governance processes are in place, managing access to different systems can make sure they’re followed.

Check how many people have admin access to your data. Spreading access too broadly can lead to messy custom fields and data you can’t count on to accurately provide analysis, segmentation, and reporting. Instead, have individuals earn permissions to become power users.

When it comes to reporting, this is especially important. Not everyone needs access to reports because they don’t all have knowledge about the data sets. Instead, assign power users who understand the campaign setup and where the data is coming from to fine tune specific reports.

Similarly, not everyone needs access to your assets. Give access to images, designs, and templates for emails and landing pages to specific members of your web design team who are building that content. That way, they can be trained on best practices, like following a naming convention that avoids extra characters when importing images and making sure images are properly tagged for use in email, landing pages, and other touchpoints.

3. Subscribe to alerts

Even with the right people and processes in place, errors can still happen.

Alerts are the first indication that something unusual is happening in your Marketo Engage instance. By understanding what these alerts mean, you can avoid potential problems later. A good place to start is understanding alerts for CRM syncing and any campaign failures. From there, subscribe to notifications that fit your business — like creating an alert for duplicate data entries. For any alerts that seem unfamiliar, identify the error response code on developers.marketo.com and follow instructions on how to fix the problem.

Unlock data capabilities with Adobe Professional Services

Having a complete view of the customer empowers you to understand their needs and behaviors. You can feel confident knowing where a customer is in their journey and provide them with personalized messaging that’s populated using dynamic content. Both validating that your data is clean and using an automation tool to check sample content before it’s delivered can keep up the momentum of that journey.

When the journey you’re delivering is across channels, you want to ensure that each step is consistent and impactful. With clean data, you can send an email campaign and then follow it up with a direct mail campaign, knowing that you have a complete view of the customer and can make that experience seamless across email and mailing addresses.

Data cleanliness not only makes your customer experiences better. By incorporating data governance practices into your organization, you can also bring teams together and use data to strategically position your brand for success.

Ready to clean up your marketing data? Explore how Adobe Professional Services can help.

Jeanne Penniman is a Sr. Business Consultant, Marketo Certified Solution Architect (MCSA) and Marketo Certified Expert (MCE) with 30+ years’ experience in Marketing & Sales. She has extensive knowledge in developing and deploying strategic lead to revenue pipeline modeling, lead management and lifecycle strategy implementation via marketing automation and CRM systems (SFDC).