Data 101 Part 1: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Data

Published January 8, 2014 9:43 pm by LoSasso
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So, you’re going through your day as a B2B marketing executive and someone comes into your office, utters the word ‘database’ and ruins your afternoon. We know, database isn’t the conversation you were hoping to have with your Market Intelligence Manager—your mind was on the fairway. We get it.

Database and database strategies can get complicated, boring and too ‘code-heavy’ really fast. But have no fear—it’s not as bad as you think. In this three-part series, we’ll go over a few basic concepts, and voila, you’ll have a perfect database! (Well, it’s not quite that simple, but we won’t get into all the gory details.)

At its core, a database is simple. It is a home for customer contact information, sales history and other strategic data. That information is used to contact customers at the right time with the right message.

If your Client Relationship Management system or customer database is a file with an extension like “.xls” it may be time to upgrade. Even if you already have a database, it may be time to upgrade—an upgrade to clear, concise, accurate and usable data. There are three rules for proper data analysis: 1) know thy data, 2) know thy data, and 3) KNOW THY DATA! This is important for not only your database administrator —the person who reports or manages data—but also you. Yeah, you!  You need to know specifically what’s in your database—and more importantly what’s not in your database. This is an important first step. Do a quick review—have your database manager create a dataset with all your contacts in a city, state or region. It doesn’t matter what the segment is, as long as it contains all the customers’ records in that segment and is small enough to fit onto a spreadsheet. Take a few minutes and flip through the data—what do you see? Is the first name field populated with first names? How many entries do not have email addresses, phone numbers or street addresses? What other information do you NOT see? What do you see that shouldn’t be there? As an example, how many of your competitors are receiving your communications?

Once you’ve completed your mini audit and you have a good understanding of your problem areas, it’s time to make a commitment to improve your data. There are a lot of resources available to help you append missing data like phone numbers and email addresses or to verify or standardize existing data such as mailing address. Be sure to look for spelling errors, inappropriate data, junk records, duplicates and the dreaded abbreviation. Though you may want this project completed by tomorrow, it takes time and constant diligence to maintain a highly accurate, deliverable dataset. Moving too fast can leave room for errors and puts you back to square one – disorganization.

Not too painful so far? The conversation isn’t going to be as fun as golf, but it’s one less crisis averted for the day. And remember—we’re here to help you. Contact your favorite LoSassin today and let us know how we can help.

– Pete Pomatto

Click here for part 2.