The secrets of successful data integration | Celsius GKK International
July 28, 2016 Thomas Hubner

The secrets of successful data integration

How To Ease The Marketers Pain, Without Taking Tablets? Here’s a simple truth when it comes to most marketers: they have more data than they can cope with. Indeed, they can quickly become flooded with so much data, that the task of building properly organised sales channels becomes impossible.

Fighter pilots call this phenomenon ‘helmet noise.’ It’s being faced with so much information from so many angles, that decision making goes out the window and survival instincts take over.

Consider this. Today companies have marketing, sales and customer data sitting in numerous separate systems. Data might be filed in Excel, Outlook, or even on business cards from various promotional events. This situation is even worse when companies have multiple business units, or have a mix between consumer-facing and B2B lines of business.

The result of all this confusion can be catastrophic for marketers. How do they know where the quality data sits and how do they get access to it? How can they easily select the data which will drive the success of their next campaign? Marketers need to be able to combine all those data sources into one, so they can get a unified view of the data and make key business decisions accordingly, to generate leads, and therefore revenue!

What is Data Integration?

Data integration is all about making sense of the raw information coming into a business. It combines data stored in different sources and provides users with a unified view, a greater sense of visibility. This collection, or overview of data which comes from several sources, is often called a Data Warehouse, or a Data Cloud system.

The benefit of a Data Warehouse is that it enables the users to perform analysis, reports, and queries on all corresponding data.

In practice, in order to drive sales in today’s highly competitive markets, the key is to have a comprehensive view of Marketing, Sales, and Customer data all in one system. Marketing teams must make informed decisions on which data to include in campaigns. To do so they need to have a complete view on all touch points rolled up to each account, prospect and contact.

Data Integration Trends

This might sound common sense when reading it in black and white, yet research has shown that far less than 20% of all enterprises have actually performed a data integration, or actively support the technique as an on-going marketing strategy.

Yet there are still organizations spending millions of dollars on data tools, analytics and technology in silos. The majority of companies are still focused on the “old school” type of data integration which usually involves custom coding and manual entry (48% of organizations use internal coding and 31% use consultants to code and enter data) to migrate, synchronize, or integrate CRM data into other business systems.

The practice of custom coding, coupled with manual data entry costs businesses millions of dollars annually. And these methods result in labour-intensive, inefficient and often misaligned data structures, which in the end does not result in a fully integrated system.

And the implications are far reaching. A recent study by a leading ERP system provider found that 52% of businesses reported missing deadlines due to poor data integration. This lack of integration and the proliferation of data and channels, and the fact that data remains individually stored in separate systems, has a direct effect on the efficiency of marketing teams.

Marketers Need 360-Degree View Of Customers and Prospects

So the challenge has to be focussed on gaining an acute understanding of the right channels and messaging for the correct audiences. But to achieve this, the marketing teams need to have the full picture of how their company has been interacting with not only customers, but also with prospects.

The more a company knows their customers and the journey they have actually taken to become a customer, the more insight it has to convert prospects into customers. Marketers need to have access to past transactional history and sales data to determine the right audience, channel, and offer to reach and convert. They also need to have a view on those customers that have lapsed, or haven’t purchased in the last three years, in order to drive ahead efficient engagement programs.

 

Furthermore, they need to segment prospects based on the profiles of those “top customers” (big spenders) in order to identify the best customer “candidates.” Marketing can only generate leads better by getting a full view of the data that’s delivering revenue to the business.

Real-Time Results

With the increasing number of ways to communicate with customers (especially in the digital area), combined with the more traditional channels such as direct mailing and telemarketing, marketers have at their disposal many new avenues to drive leads.

But here is a key problem. Unless they see the results of their campaigns quickly, they risk bombarding their contacts with irrelevant messaging. So, they need to combine the results of their campaigns with existing data to understand if there is data that should, or should not be included in their next campaign (taking into account opt-outs, or sales activities in progress).

Quality Data

The central issue is that marketers don’t have the time to spend checking duplicates, fixing emails, or filling in the blanks. They can’t afford to spend quality time extracting data from one system and another, and then figuring out how to connect it all together. By the time they have worked it out, the data they are working on is no longer valid and it’s time to build a new list.

In addition, they need to have their data enhanced with key demographic information for segmentation and analysis. If they’re expected, let’s say, to run their next campaign on all prospects over 500 employees in Germany, France and Italy, with at least one senior IT contact, targeted via email, they need that data fast and not in three weeks.

Healing the Pain

Companies need to take their data pain seriously; they cannot keep ignoring the amount of hours and money wasted on trying to cope with the explosion in the volume of data and its sources. It’s a bit like trying to squeeze toothpaste back in the tube!

Companies have to prioritize solution-driven strategies like data integration to give themselves a better chance to not only retain their customers, but also their employees. By having systems that are meeting the needs of marketers, companies are directly on the road to driving more leads and therefore more revenue. The data challenge of marketing teams CAN be overcome especially today with the new technologies and processes that are available within the industry. It’s just a question of prioritization and putting this “pain” at the top of the list.

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