Using marketing information management may feel complex, but it doesn’t have to. Learn how to use it to benefit your business.
As an online business owner, you probably don’t need to be told that big data is the currency of digital marketing today. Whether you are gathering data to analyze your social media engagement, personalize your email marketing, or monitor your website performance, you’re already using it. So the question then becomes, how can we manage all of the data we gather to put it to the best use?
This is an important question that can’t be fully answered in one sitting, but we’ll do our best to get you the building blocks you need. We’ll take a look at the crucial aspects of marketing information management, from the data you should be storing to how it can benefit your business. Then we’ll provide some tips toward formulating your management strategy and common mistakes to avoid as you go.
What is marketing information management?
Management of any type, be it systems or people, can be tough to get right. That’s because it’s not a one-size-fits-all tactic, but rather an abstract concept. And that means the best way to understand a concept such as data management is to break it down into manageable parts.
In short, marketing information management is the process of collecting, organizing, storing, and using information—in this case, your marketing insights. And in order to properly do this, you need to approach it tactfully and use the right tools.
Your strategy is the first part: Think critically about the goals of your organization and what you hope to gain through using data. Ask questions like:
- How do you currently use marketing data?
- How do you hope to use it moving forward?
- What problems are you having with data storage or marketing performance?
In contrast, the system is the tools you use. These are your databases, platforms, and other ways you store, analyze, and visualize the data you already have.
The information that is most valuable to you will depend on the goals of your organization. But a few common marketing data categories include sales insights, metrics from past marketing campaigns, lead and customer acquisition data, competitor data, and more.
This data will come from a number of sources. There will be the data you collect, such as customer and employee information. There is also third-party data that you might purchase, as well as market research from partners and intelligence you gather through tools such as Google Analytics.
There are a number of benefits to employing strong marketing information management, concerning everything from internal business operations to customer interaction.
- Personalization: For marketers, getting to know your customers is arguably the most important goal of data analysis. There is nothing better than well-segmented customer data to better tailor your offerings and ads to fit different personas.
- Competitive research: In a crowded market, monitoring your competition is paramount. You can use industry data to understand what is and isn’t working for your competitors and differentiate yourself from the crowd.
- Collaboration: Organized data is easier to share across different teams. When everyone knows where the data is and how to access it, it becomes much easier to communicate and work together.
- Security and compliance: Poorly structured databases and unmonitored data access are a hacker’s dream. Plus, the more data you collect, the greater is the risk of violating industry regulations. For example, it will be a lot easier to maintain PCI compliance for your online payment methods for customers and clients when all of your payment data is anonymized and encrypted.
Formulating your data management strategy
Now that you see the importance of marketing information management, let’s take a look at some necessary steps for implementing a successful strategy.
One of the first steps in any business strategy is to discuss your priorities as an organization. In the case of marketing data management, this means taking a long look at what data sources and key performance indicators (KPIs) are most crucial to your campaigns. For example, data on your target audience’s behaviors and preferences, lead data, and existing customer data will be top priority.
You should also be contextualizing your quantitative data (where the value of data matters in terms of numerical values) with qualitative data (where data can be observed and characterized). While you will need to analyze the hard numbers to find insights into your customers (such as behavioral or demographic data), you should also listen to what users are saying in reviews and on social media.
In addition to internal records and market research, you will likely also want tools to make analysis easier. This is often called a marketing decision support system (MDSS), a tool that takes in data and interprets it to make it easier to glean insights from the hard numbers.
You should also think critically about how you store and organize your data. Some organizations build their own databases, while others will use the cloud and invest in software to manage their data centers and analytics effectively.
If you don’t have dedicated database experts or analysts, you should choose a more comprehensive suite that offers secure storage and intuitive analytics. Otherwise, you risk ending up with aof raw files that you don’t know how to retrieve, clean, and use.
Be sure to communicate with relevant teams about the upcoming strategy shift and software migration. At the very least, this should include internal marketing, sales, data scientists, IT, and anyone else in your organization who will need to have a say in the switch.
Be sure to train employees in advance on how to access and use the new system. You may also have to educate your tech teams before you send them to wade through all the company’s data. The average online coding course takes less than four months to complete, and there are also platform-specific tutorials online. You can have your analysts, security personnel, and other relevant team members preparing before and during the software migration.
Avoid the common pitfalls
Before you get to it, keep these common pitfalls in mind so you can avoid falling victim to avoidable errors.
Implementing data management without forethought is a surefire way to end up with an unwieldy system that nobody can navigate. Or, you end up with siloed data that is controlled by different teams who are not sharing. Neither is secure nor sustainable.
What you should do instead is focus on segmentation. This involves breaking down your data based on useful categories for the purpose of analysis. For example, you might organize customer data based on user demographics or locations. If you work in the business-to-business (B2B) space, relevant segments might be by industry and purchasing history.
There is such a thing as too much analysis—and getting caught in this rut can limit the efficiency you were seeking with your strategy in the first place. Don’t become so obsessed with organizing and running analytical models that you forget to think critically about the results you’re seeing and what to do with them.
This goes back to priorities: Never lose sight of why you are implementing your marketing information management strategy. It’s okay to make mistakes too. Not every campaign will be the most effective, but the goal is to learn from your data and improve as you grow.
Just because you have a great data management system doesn’t mean your work is done. Take ownership of your data analytics, and push your organization to always look for new ideas. For example, when it comes to marketing functions such as keyword research, you should avoid copying your competitors simply because the data says what they’re doing is popular.
Also, no matter how solid you think your system is, your data is still at risk. You can make data governance a part of your company culture by regularly training your teams on good cyber hygiene and implementing multi-factor authentication for accessing your platforms. Particularly for smaller businesses, it can be hard to prioritize data protection and security. But if you’re looking to save money, security is not the place to cut corners.
Marketing information management can feel like a complex process, but it’s really all about harnessing the right tools and strategies to achieve marketing success. With these steps to get you started, you can begin to plan and implement a strategy that helps you protect, organize, and utilize your data effectively.
Note: The applications mentioned in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.