You are What You Eat: How Poor Data is Sabotaging Your Marketing Well Being

By Yosha Ulrich-Sturmat, VP of Product Marketing, Neustar

Cheap, plentiful, and easy to get, today's vast quantity of available marketing data is seductive--but it's also self-destructive. Even as our obsession with data grows, the truth is that more is simply not better. In fact, overconsumption and inertia are as dangerous for your marketing health as they are for your personal health. But just as it's sometimes challenging to know which foods to avoid, it's difficult to distinguish between good data and the stuff that undermines our best-laid marketing plans. So it's important to recognize the key symptoms of unhealthy data consumption and to understand a few of the critical changes you can make for the better.

Stop Consuming Junk

Online behavioral data is every marketer's favorite junk food because it's easy to get and easy to execute on. But beware: this data contains a lot of empty marketing calories. If you target every visitor to your luxury sports car website, you'll waste a lot of ad spend on college-aged car aficionados who are unlikely to move your bottom line. Higher-quality data from real-world sources can help you avoid that spend, so make sure you're looking at online and offline data to get a more accurate and complete picture of your site's biggest fans. This allows you to recognize, for example, when visitors index low on income and high for textbook purchases, so you can make more nuanced choices about whom to target.

Don't Touch the Stale Stuff

CRM data can make your marketing more powerful. It can also be as stale as a 4-day-old salad because it remains static as people move, change phone numbers, or get new email addresses. Marketing against stale data poses multiple risks: you waste dollars on moving targets, fail to message consistently across multiple channels, and miss customers with a high propensity to purchase. That car aficionado will eventually graduate and get a job, but your CRM might still think he makes under $10,000 a year. You need customer data that's onboarded and matched against an authoritative data set, using an identity framework that's regularly refreshed and corroborated. This allows you to power marketing decisions that are current, relevant, and consistent across channels. Treat that data like produce: if it's not fresh, don't touch it.

Use the Right Measuring Stick

To gauge true progress, marketers need access to unbiased measurement. By accurately crediting leads, sales, and conversions to individual campaigns, you can learn which channels, audiences, and messages most influenced sales. This kind of insight is critical to improving future campaigns. But it's only valid if you use neutral insights to understand the effectiveness of your marketing activity, and ensure that these insights are not tied to and biased by your media or data buys. Put another way: if a fast food chain offers you a special scale so you can measure your health progress on their nutrition plan, you'd raise an eyebrow and decline. Do the same when it comes to marketing and opt for neutral insights instead.

In the end, it's important to look closely at what makes marketing tick and take a holistic approach to long-term success. As a marketer, you need accurate and complete portraits of your customers and prospects across all touchpoints, online and offline. Whether you resolve them with authoritative identity, an identity graph, or something else, these portraits must include online interactions, authoritative and linked offline data, and fresh and verified CRM data. Only then will they power relevant and consistent cross-channel and cross-device marketing.

Whether we're talking lifestyle habits or marketing strategy, it's not about more; it's about better. Authoritative identity enables you to acquire high-quality data and resolve it with your existing data to generate the insights needed for robust and disciplined marketing. This healthier strategy will lead to a more personalized approach, making both you and your customers happier in the long run.