Data Unification and Data Management are Key

Does anyone even remember “traditional” marketing anymore? Sure, the days of billboards and postcards in the mail are definitely not over. But digital has been the first thing to come to mind when talking about marketing for over a decade.

Digital marketing has been such a powerhouse for businesses due to data. This was lacked when it came to understanding how many people viewed a print ad and took action. We now have a fuller view into the customer experience which has allowed for more targeted and dynamic campaigns.

In this day and age, you really can’t separate good marketing from good data. In fact:

  • Best-in-class marketers are 56% more likely to use data and analytics platforms
  • Businesses that unify data to inform strategies have seen up to 60% more profit than companies that simply sell products with no direction.

We know access to the data is out there. But as we learned in a study on the State of Martech in the industry, agencies are having a difficult time using that data. Marketing teams need a unified, holistic view of that customer experience. That can mean using a revenue growth platform with a CRM and reporting capabilities. Or finding ways to pool data from various marketing tools into a usable dashboard.

To find out how agencies were handling the challenge, we teamed up with Ascend2, a leader in research-based marketing. Together we surveyed a panel of marketing professionals offering agency services to better understand how they are adapting to today’s influx of data to meet client needs.

This research has been conducted with you in mind! Download the report to put it to work in your own marketing strategy. Or clip the charts and write about them in your blog or post them on social media. Keep reading to get a rundown on some of the highlights.

Challenges of Data Management in Digital Marketing

What we found across the board was that marketers in all industries agree that data is key for marketing success. But a main challenge is turning those numbers into actionable results. By a landslide, 97% of respondents agreed that unifying and properly managing data helps in achieving strategic goals.

Survey results showed that the top goal for marketers in terms of data unification is improving customer engagement and experience. This is followed closely by better aligning the sales and marketing teams. Professionals know that all KPIs start with customer experience. Looking to improve sales, increase referrals, and attract more quality leads? Then a targeted and helpful customer experience is the place to start. And this is where the data comes into play.

For a marketer, the numbers are less about how successful a campaign was in generating revenue and more about how effective it is in convincing customers to take a desired action. The end numbers such as revenue, clicks, and forms fills are business metrics that help decision makers see progress.

All the other nuanced numbers such as interactions with a social post, visits to a landing page, and clicks in an email are signals to marketers on how to improve copy, imagery, and even timing between email sends. These are the key details that allow a marketing team to do its job effectively. This is where a unified data management strategy is helpful. So what’s stopping teams?

Struggles and Roadblocks

Although this has been an increasingly prominent issue for agencies, many have not been successful in data unification. For some, data management has become a major issue that is actually slowing down growth for the company. Without a way to analyze results, these companies are having a harder time optimizing campaigns.

When creating a strategy to consolidate data, some of the biggest challenges were managing data quality (36%) and making unified data actionable (30%). These are both issues that can be curbed with a revenue growth platform that has all the features of a CRM alongside key marketing automation tools.

When asked what agencies thought their biggest challenges would be with an integration strategy, surprisingly, 40% believed that maintaining data quality would be the biggest concern. Understandably so, every SaaS has their own nuances when it comes to collecting data. When moving to a new system or transferring data, there is always a concern that some elements won’t transfer over. When interviewing potential tools, it’s important to ask about data points that matter to your business to make sure this tool can actually do what you need it to.

Managing data quality becomes easier when all data is housed in a single-source CRM that can be used as the main record holder. Then turning that raw data into insights becomes easier from one tool that can pull numbers into a single view for various parts of a campaign like email, social, and sales touches to create actionable reporting.

The Right Partner Matters

When using multiple tools and touchpoints for customer management, it gets really messy on the backend for marketers to then sort, organize, and make sense of all the data. While businesses realize that creating a strategy to start to unify the numbers is an important next step, almost 75% feel that it is a somewhat or extremely complicated process. That can be very intimidating for a business to step into. Especially when prioritizing sales, slowing down marketing to organize data never seems to make it to the top of the list.

However, making time to streamline and strategize with the right tool is an important investment into the growth of your business. Step one is researching the right partner for your needs.

Of course, when researching any CRM or marketing automation tool it’s a good idea to prioritize needs but wants are also important to make sure that the tool can grow with your business. In the report, we aligned what marketers told us were the Essential Elements vs Greatest Challenges of unifying data. Looking at this overlap gives insight into where agencies can start prioritizing tasks for execution. Download the report to take a look.

Key Takeaways

Time and time again (or should we say survey after survey), we’re seeing that a few things are true for digital marketers trying to stay ahead of the competition: data is increasingly important to be able to do the job, complex marketing stacks are leaving piles of unusable data, and marketers with the ability to unify data are able to stay competitive.

87% of those surveyed agreed that data unification has become increasingly effective at helping to achieve strategic goals. So when looking for a tool to help them achieve these, here where the things that made it to the top of the list:

  • 44% Usability and ease of use
  • 42% Integration with existing technology
  • 40% Data visualization and reporting

Download the report to see the full breakdown of features marketers are looking for. The top 3 showcase all the major issues we’ve heard again and again from digital teams which were buy-in across teams, maintaining the integrity of data, and finally being able to turn those numbers into actionable results.

Wrapping Up

An easy-to-use system will make buy-in from other departments a breeze. No one wants to learn a new overly-complicated tool while they already have 1500 other tasks to manage. Ease of use and having a good support team should be top on the list.

When it comes to worrying about maintaining data integrity with any tools that you plan on keeping, making sure that the new tool not only integrates but also passes through all the data points your business needs is a must-ask.

Of course, the most important piece when researching a good revenue growth platform partner is the reporting. After all this work to get data unified, you want to be sure it will also be usable. Make sure the people who will be aggregating, analyzing, and reporting on the data are in the room to provide feedback on what’s needed to align with business KPIs.

Taking the time now to prepare for future goals can be the smartest long-term investment your business makes this year. Get a demo to learn how a system like SharpSpring can help you get there!

Joel Garland
Joel Garland