Elizabeth Crinejo, our Director of Client Operations, shows a 4-step process to get clean marketing data, manage it, and make it part of your company culture.

From the session “Drowning in Data, but Thirsty for Insight?” given by Elizabeth Crinejo and Melissa Mines at ConnectToConvert, August 21, 2017.

So, what do we do about it? Creating good data management processes should be a part of that enculturation of your data. You want your people to be pretty protective of it. You want someone in a meeting to talk about a new channel and then say, “Well, how do they track?”

Because that person sitting there thinking about how all the tracking channels are gonna sync and where they’re not going to sync and how you have to play with the math to make sure they all can give you a picture that makes sense.

So, the first things you want to do is you want to clean up your data, get the tracking handled, bring someone in to help you if you need to. Sometimes a third party can make a difference when there’s a lot of people at the table who have been talking about the same thing for a long time. So, don’t be afraid to bring in a consultant or someone who can help you. Get to the point where you trust your data.

Now, understand whenever you’re looking at distinct systems you’re probably going to have some slight differences. That’s probably okay as long as you understand what the reasoning is behind those slight differences. So, maybe between AdWords and Analytics you understand first click and last click and those types of things. So, when you’re looking at the data, you can interpret it the way that’s proper based on language of its system and then you’ll understand how they come together.

So, clean your data until you trust it, you understand the differences, you know how they impact you, you know where they’re important and where they’re not to be bothered with, and you also know them to the degree if one of them is off you’ll notice it or one of your people will notice it. Okay? A lot of this may apply to the people that work around you who are the people who are managing and maintaining this. You want to make sure that they have this process in their day, week, month, year based on how often they have to interact with their data.

Then you want to maintain it. You want to be really protective of your data. Not only that, you want to keep your technology on point. Make sure everything’s up to date. Right now one of the biggest ways we’re gonna be managing big data is with really great partners that have super smart tech because there are too many metrics in some situations than we can manage, but if there’s a machine that can pull them all together and give a smart team of thoughtful marketers some good information to direct their tasks and their efforts and their tests, then you want to pull those in. So, stay up ahead.

There’s probably lots of great vendors for you to check out here to understand like what is happening with programmatic, what is happening with AI, and how can it solve the problems that I have with my data. So, stay up-to-date, maybe create some Google Alerts. Also, make sure your technicians, any people that you have touching your systems, make sure they are maintaining them, and make sure they’re keeping their own tools sharp. My people love Excel, and now they’re all starting to learn R and Python on their own because they want to be better at manipulating data in new and different ways. So, give them those opportunities and then enculturate it, as we’ve been saying, “Enculture it, enculture it.” It’s really important.

So, make sure that there is a conversation for data in your company. Having reports is great. Just make sure they’re reporting on the right things and reporting when you want them. So, if you have a team meeting every Tuesday, make sure you have the previous seven days’ data when you walk into that meeting on Tuesday that you’re looking at, and make sure everyone agrees that the metrics that matter are in that report, and there may be a variety. If you’re talking to higher-ups or you are a higher-up, you might want to see data a certain way. If you’re more in the weeds, you want to see it at a more granular level because that’s where you’re taking action. Any questions on any of this?

So, the thing to get is—this is kind of a silly question because metrics and performance management are really integral to your organizations, yes? So, what are you gonna do about it? This is sort of six steps to enculturating your data, and we’re kind of beating this one to death because it is really key, because if we’re going to be people who decide to use data to drive our decisions, you can kind of see why this would be really, really important for us, yes? Yeah, and it’s going to be an ongoing thing.

So, enculturation. This is what we already talked about: Reporting, taking care of it, making sure that if something changes that impacts your data, it’s noted. If you track things in a Wiki, if you track things in Google Analytics, make sure one person is the one who’s being that—or a couple that know what the types of things that get noted.

Then create redundancy. So, I gave the example of the customer that had impression-to-close information, which is—you know, it’s a unicorn in the marking world. It’s hard to get that at the keyword level for such long sales funnel that we have at times. So, make sure that you have redundancy.

This really helps if people are just talking about it, because if you’re talking about it, you know where to go to get the data you want, and when that person decides to leave or that department changes, you know where the data needs to move to make sure that those owners and those keepers-of, and those understanders-of remain a part of your company no matter who the personality is, who’s sitting in the seat at the time.

Then you want to understand the system. You want to understand how everything works. How does it track? How does it think? In our company we do a lot of paid search marketing, and we have gone back and forth in the world of bid tools, and whenever we use them, it’s in the right situation, and it never overlooks the fact that you need to have a smart thinker and someone who wonders about data running the machine or else you’re likely to lose money. So, make sure you understand your systems – how they can break and how they think.

Stay current. I already talked about this. Just really educate yourself. Make sure your people are smart. A good day would be when someone comes to you and says, “Hey, I just checked out this vendor. They’re really cool. I think they really could be a game-changer to the way we understand our data. Can I set up a demo?” That’s a good day for you. Even if it’s going to cost you money, I guarantee you it will save you money to also have those people who are thinkers and researchers, and they’re out ahead of that technology curve because that’s where you want to be.

And then embrace curiosity. You know when data doesn’t—the thing that’s funny about data, and we’ve had clients before who say, “Well, I have this goal. I told my boss I would get this many leads at the same cost this month, and why can’t I do that?” And then we have to say stuff like, “Well, because math.” Sorry, math is impersonal. It doesn’t care what you said to your boss. It doesn’t care what your goals are.

So, whenever you have those situations where someone has to come to you with the bad news, you want to really applaud them because as I always tell my people, “The things you measure are the things you move.” So, if we know the bad news, if we know we have an 83 percent bounce rate, well I’m definitely gonna do something about that.

So, don’t have it be the case that someone’s afraid to come to you with bad data or, you know, bad news about your data because those are the things you want to uncover, and you want to count on uncovering them. The better you get with your data, the more you’re going to find out the things that you maybe don’t love so much, but you can transform.