Man working with analytics sitting  with a computer, laptop and documents.
PHOTO: rh2010

Earlier this month, we dove into what researchers found as one of the greatest data challenges for marketers this decade: distilling and activating the incredible amount of data to which they have access.

Scott Brinker, author of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, and Jason Baldwin, global head of product management of WPP, shared those insights in a report released in October, "Martech 2030" (PDF). They said it’s one of the areas that will make marketers competitive in data this decade.

The other we’ll explore today: The source of your data: its accuracy and freshness; its provenance and legal permissions as well as its exclusivity. “I think there's great data to be had out there,” Brinker told CMSWire. “But I think, first and foremost, companies should get the value out of the data that they already have, data that is at their doorsteps. Exclusivity — that is data that's flowing through your web properties, your communications channels. You alone have that data. It’s amazing. It's a competitive advantage.”

It’s a First-Party World — Or Should Be

Not that Brinker is slighting any data types outside of first-party data. Brinker mentioned there are data markets out there feasible within the framework of data-privacy regulations. The B2B intent data space, for instance, “has gotten really, really hot. ZoomInfo is .. really raising the profile of that whole market. I think there is great data to be had there.”

Gartner researcher Evan Bakker told us last month that 79% of CMOs are primarily relying on existing markets to fuel growth. That means doubling down on first-party data, or the data collected directly from their own audience.

Specifically, Bakker's research found marketers would benefit if they focus on:

  • Explicit First-Party Data: Which Gartner defines as data “actively entered by the user, e.g., gender, phone number, birthday, on brand sites.”
  • Implicit First-Party Data: Data “captured based on session behavior and location by the brand on site.”

Marketing pundit Amit Pandey said it is important to unify customer data (first-, second- and third-party data) because it is “essential to improving the customer experience through personalized engagement. Also, it enriches the customer journey.” He added data governance is a super critical part of getting this right.

Related Article: A Look at Marketing's Biggest Data Challenges of the 2020s

Providing Value for Customer Data

Christopher Penn, co-founder and chief data scientist of Trust Insights, told CMSWire that marketers have to get accustomed to the idea that third party data is going away "by hook or by crook” through CCPA becoming CPRA in two more years. GDPR lawsuits are well underway, and customers are saying they want more privacy.

“Marketers have to get used to the idea that first-party data is the only party you'll have left, and you've got to get good at not only data collection and data analysis but creating the data sale,” Penn said. “And the data sale is this: when you or I are on a company's website, one of the things you could do is buy something from the company. But the other thing we can do is trade our data in exchange for something.”

For the last 15 years, Penn added, marketers have not really had to think about what they give this consumer in exchange for this data. “It's a sale, and nobody's thinking along those lines," Penn said. “And as a result, you put in contact forms, and everyone's marketing automation system is filled with '[email protected]' And we now have a data quality problem that we don't really do anything about it. ... We have convince the consumer to trade their data. What do I have to offer in exchange for that data? ... That data sale is a critical part of what marketers must get on board with sooner rather than later."

Monitoring Real-Time Behavioral Data

Not all data is created equally and the success of marketing campaigns hinge on whether or not the data marketers source is accurate, according to David Greenberg, SVP of marketing Act-On Software. As a result, he said, it’s crucial that marketers think of data marketing in two ways: 1) the maintenance and growth of contact lists; and 2) the ongoing monitoring of real-time behavioral data.

“To the first point, many marketers get caught in the common pitfall of over-relying on third party lists or gunning to reach the total addressable market (TAM),” Greenberg said. “While these tactics have their place and have recently improved overall, they shouldn’t be leveraged as the go-to resource for contact-list building. It’s too difficult to know with confidence whether they’re updated in real-time and can leave marketers targeting contacts that are disinterested or nonexistent.”

To the second point, data marketing isn’t just about amassing as many contacts as possible and casting the widest sales net, Greenberg added. “It’s also about growing your business and reach in a responsible and methodical way,” he said. “Data that can give us a glimpse into buyer behavior is proving to be more and more valuable.”

This includes, he said, tracking and analyzing everything from what content prospects and customers are engaging with on your website to webinar attendance to customer reviews and satisfaction metrics. “Being able to see this type of data at a high-level ensures marketers know what is and isn’t working in real-time and empowers them to yield the highest ROI on their marketing stack investments,” Greenberg said.

Related Article: California's CPRA: It's Time to Cut Ties with Old Data

Bad Data Goes Downstream

The important of clean, accurate data is not lost on Tom Kaneshige, chief content officer of the CMO Council. Dirty data, he said, is the dirty little secret. “Companies struggle with assessing data quality and eliminating bad data in existing data assets,” he added. “Most companies don’t understand their data supply chain and grab bad data from inaccurate sources or legacy systems that aren’t the system of record.”

Bad data percolates downstream, Kaneshige said, and corrupts the data supply chain and takes months to clean up. Data governance needs to become anticipatory.

“Companies need to be screening data flows — identifying the right sources, monitoring data quality and resolving data-quality issues — in real-time,” he said. “This is the only way to bring speed and accuracy into the system and enable marketers to anticipate customer behavior and serve customers in their moment of need.”