The sheer volume of data available for the taking makes it tempting for marketers to go for a ‘gather everything’ approach. But without a strategic plan and fundamentals in place, this will result in wasted resources and poor CX.

“Data is the new oil,” said British mathematician and architect of the Tesco Clubcard Clive Humby in 2006. It’s a commonly used phrase in marketing circles, but is it still the case in 2019? 

Oil in its raw form is fairly useless and, if not treated carefully, can have a negative environmental impact. But refined, stored, collected and managed, it powers much of our lives. In a sense, data is the same. Marketers aspire to using AI and machine learning to power data-driven personalisation at scale, but as with oil, we need to know where to look for it and how to gather, store and manage it effectively.  

But while data may have been the new oil 13 years ago, the ways we use it have changed as the data we have to work with has changed. Our SVP, Marketing Innovation and CMO Programs Jon Suarez-Davis says that now marketers are in a race to use data to solve for customer identity – this is the new battleground for marketers.  

Marketers need to start with the basics of data stewardship so they can master identity and achieve more complex goals.
 

Why you need a data strategy

 

Ninety per cent of the world’s data has been created in the past two years – we’re producing 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data per day. It’s an overwhelming figure and, to continue the oil metaphor, represents a new untapped oil field for marketers, right?

Well sort of.

The vastness, quality and consistency of the oil field is the problem – it’s not all high-value oil. It’s a huge area with just a few tiny pockets of value that are hard to find. 

Considering this, how do we collect the right data? Who owns it? How do we store it, handle and understand it so it doesn’t do harm? How do we unearth the value that will be transformative for marketing?

Before we go digging, we must make a plan. The immense volume of data presents an incredible and exciting opportunity – once we have the basics in place to get the right data. 

The truth is too many brands don’t have their data fundamentals in order. So, let’s look at three simple ways to start asking the right questions to build a data strategy: 
 

1. Why are you collecting the data?

 

We don’t know what we don’t know, which warrants the ‘collect everything’ approach. But this needs to be balanced with relevance. 

Work out whether you’re collecting data for the right reason – is that data going to benefit your business and your customer? 

Knowing the type of dog food I buy or what allergies I have is not going to help you sell me a home broadband package – and is likely to make me question your data collection policies. 

Indeed, we know trust is key in a world where 57% of customers are currently uncomfortable with how companies use their data.

But our State of Marketing research found that 79% are willing to share data in exchange for contextualised engagement, 88% will do so for personalised offers, and almost two-thirds of customers expect companies to anticipate their needs – the right data, used well, is essential to building trust.
 

 

2. Do you have complete data ownership?

 

The use of second-party data — shared between consenting parties to extend audiences and refine targeting — has grown 19% since 2017.

Are you clear that you own your data? When you want to model your data, can you export it and store it in systems that are owned by your brand? 

Much of the data in the world is collected and stored in multiple places, by multiple vendors so simplifying, understanding and putting the processes in place to allow software-enabled governance will be crucial moving forwards. 

Data is a crucial commodity – and having clarity that you own your data is critical to future-proofing your business.
 

3. Is the data tied back to a person?

 

The Salesforce State of Marketing Report identified that marketers will use more than 15 sources of data in 2019, so it’s essential that we know who the individuals behind different identities are. 

The challenge is to not treat people like devices nor devices like people, which will not only cause problems with data foundations but result in a poor experience for the customer. 

Only 47% of marketers have a unified view of customer data sources – the opportunity to differentiate CX comes from creating a clear view of the individuals behind each of those devices, including matching the identities of different devices and accounts to the one identity, and to interact meaningfully with those individuals at scale. 

Check out our fifth annual State of Marketing report for the latest trends and insights from marketers over the world.