As anyone who works with me will fervently assure you, I am not a data person. I can find my way around a spreadsheet, but the thought of programming, or even pivot tables, makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. However, after 25 years in the database marketing industry I know with all my heart and soul that (apologies to James Carville), “It’s the Data, Stupid.”
Data management is clearly not the sexiest part of our work, but nothing else can be accomplished without intelligent data management and data hygiene processes. I can even say now, after the passage of several years, that I am grateful that I was forced to attend a weeklong training program called “Data Hygiene Boot Camp” when SIGMA was part of The Acxiom Corporation (the mental scars have healed).
As we work with clients to assess their situation in the area of Data Management, we often run through a series of questions similar to these that follow:
18 Questions for Data Management Assessments:
- Is there a database primarily for the use of the Marketing Department?
- What proportion of the company’s overall customer base can be found in the current customer database?
- How many unduplicated customers are in the database?
- What are the various sources of data?
- Are there consolidated sources of this data?
- Are there prospects included as well as customers?
- Are there data schemas, data dictionaries available for the different data sources?
- What online data is available from web activity?
- What is the level of transaction history that is being tracked by source?
- Do any of your partners or vendors have other sources of data that are not currently in the database?
- What tools are currently feeding or being fed from this database?
- What efforts are performed to cleanse addresses? Who owns this process?
- About what percent of email addresses are available on the database?
- What different database systems are currently being used by marketing?
- Are there any firmographics or demographics appended to customers or prospects?
- Are there data fields created by an analytics group, such as model scores on the database?
- What data is leveraged for use in retention and acquisition programs?
- How frequently is the data updated?
With these basic questions as a start, we can begin to understand the level of development of the data management infrastructure within our clients’ operations.
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