Data forms a cornerstone of every modern business, but too much data can easily get out of hand. As Marketing has moved online, the number of sources of data has dramatically increased. Now, across Advertising, Marketing, and Sales platforms, there are dozens of streams of data for marketers to round up, and it is easy for useful information to get lost in the process.
From different platforms to varying file-types and locations, it can be tough to make decisions when you can’t see all your data in one place. Furthermore, data can get lost in translation as it moves between formats and systems, where it loses context and risks misinterpretation. Fortunately, there is a solution.
How Can Standardization Help?
Data standardization allows businesses to compile all their data together so that they can construct a robust, data-driven strategy for their Marketing. Standardization removes the need for multiple checks, distrust of data across departments and surface weaknesses in your data collection operation. It can reduce the costs associated with multiple analytics platforms and yield increased customer satisfaction – both of which make your business more competitive.
Standardization also makes a critical difference when it comes to strategy and decision-making. Even the best marketers might struggle to turn a profit if they are relying on outdated assumptions about customer personas based on inaccurate data. The human insights that an abundance of clear, raw data presents are far superior to the insights generated by a business analytics program accessing a limited silo of information.
Organizing Your Data
Many data collection platforms work with ‘free format’ data, meaning that there are few or no restrictions on data entries. This can produce a chaotic mishmash of punctuation, acronyms, special characters, and misplaced or misnamed values. These ostensibly minor disparities can intensify when the data is moved around and can lead to severe misinterpretation or other systemic errors. These mistakes can have a profound effect on the interpretation of the data, so implementing a clear organizational strategy is vital.
There are four steps to data standardization:
– Finding all your data sources;
– Involving a variety of stakeholders;
– Standardizing external sources, especially open-ended forms; and
– Using filters to understand the data you have already collected.
This process should guarantee that stakeholders across the business are content and that data enters the company in a consistent format so that it is easy to interpret. It may feel daunting, but modern tools make it simple to standardize even the most convoluted datasets.
Choosing the Right Tools
Many organizations leave data handling to their CRMs, Marketing Automation systems, or countless other convenient but functionally limited platforms. They collect and store data, and even offer some additional features like projections and forecasting, but they are poorly suited for aggregating and standardizing data from multiple sources.
Purpose-built data standardization tools can automate the process of collecting data from numerous, disparate sources, and automatically standardize it. This produces the largest, highest quality dataset from which to draw conclusions, and sets your business up to make well-informed decisions.
Data privacy has been a leading concern over the past several years, and with strict legislation such as the GDPR in place, that seems unlikely to change. Time has run out for companies with lax data handling practices, and it’s imperative that data – particularly Marketing data – is stored responsibly and safely. Standardization makes it easier to ensure compliance, as all data gets collected in a single place.
The data lifecycle is complex – from collection to cleansing, storage, and standardization, to disposal – and it can be challenging for companies to get the most out of their data.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools for marketers to manage data throughout its lifecycle. For example, the Tealium suite of tools collects information from websites, devices, servers, and even physical kiosks and other sources, compiles it, and then creates a standardized data layer. The layer can be used to determine customer engagement and analyze trends, all in a convenient and legally compliant way.
Standardized Data and Marketing Insights
Companies in almost every industry are awash with data, but very few are taking full advantage of this valuable resource. This tendency is in large part because of the scattered, inconsistent nature of user data in a multi-platform world.
Data standardization offers a solution: collecting data across a variety of platforms and ensuring it is consistent before compiling it, can unlock access to meaningful Marketing insights that the company might otherwise miss.