If we were to alter Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous line from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to describe marketing data collection practices, it would probably sound something like this:

“Data data everywhere and not a field in sync…”

Much like the original version of the quote, the point is, we’re surrounded by substance—data—but that data is only useful if we know what to do with it. Marketing data is much more than the values we collect from our webinar registrations, our eBook downloads, or contact us forms. Rather, sorting and organizing the data sets is what develops useful information, and applying meaning and purpose is what leads to knowledge, then wisdom.  The progression of data value is best illustrated by the DIKW hierarchy:

DIKW hierarchy

Of course, determining what’s actionable depends on your business objectives and your intended use cases. For example, are you collecting first names to enable personalization? Are you seeking additional data to prove or disprove a persona theory? Or maybe you want to document a purchasing journey. Knowing what you want to document and measure helps to back into what wisdom, knowledge, and information you might be missing and thereby, need to collect.

“It’s important to start with a data vision,” commented Judi Cousineau, Perkuto’s Director of Consulting. “Understanding why you’re collecting specific data points and how the data will be used provides context and meaning. Once you have a foundation in place, you’re better equipped to take action based on the story your data tells.”

Getting Started with Actionable Marketing Data

Whether you’re new in your position and just inherited your database, or your data collection practices have been in existence for eons, have no fear. “Don’t get too hung up on data details— you’ll go nuts. Do your homework and then determine your direction,” says Elliott Lowe, Head of MarTech Operations at Ringlead. As for where to begin, Lowe recommends the following steps:

1. Identify your ideal customer profile – know who you’re targeting!

2. Identify critical data points. What do you want to know about your ideal customer? Common use case examples include:

  • Lead scoring – collect industry, revenue, and number of employees
  • Lead routing – number of employees, state and country
  • Segmentation – job level, job role, industry
  • Personalization – job title, company name
  • Prospecting – email, phone number, social media handles

3. Assess your data quality and accuracy. According to research by SiriusDecisions, between 10-25% of B2B marketing database records contain critical errors. Thus, it’s important to audit your data, systems, and processes, scrutinizing data sources, CRM sync, non-mailable or unengaged records, and duplicate records. Keep in mind, even though a field may be populated, it may not be accurate or actionable. “Make note of the fields that are the least accurate and assess how this data entered your system,” suggests Lowe.

4. Analyze fill rates. Once you’ve identified the critical fields, make sure they are not missing data. Create a report in your CRM or within Marketo to expose missing data points. Once uncovered, this will tell you which fields need the most enrichment.

5. Explore data enrichment options. Depending on the level of missing data, you have a few options, including a manual append— as an example, perhaps an employee gathers missing data from LinkedIn. If more extensive, an offline data service provider can append data to your records. Lastly, an online data service provider is an option preferred by many, as it automates the process and gives you flexibility on when to enrich— when new records are created, reach a certain age, or become an MQL.

Ongoing Data Success

Data is everywhere. And while we may have data readily available at our disposal, remember to focus not on quantity, but quality. “It’s all about identifying what data will actually help you and is needed to drive your business objectives. Center your efforts around data quality, not quantity,” noted Cousineau. “And remember too, perfect information for perfect insights does not exist. Set up your systems, processes, and people and get started. Use what you have and make adjustments from what you learn.”


To hear more from both Judi Cousineau and Elliott Lowe, view the recording of our recent webinar “Data as a Foundation for Growth.”  Part 2 of the series, “Data Segmentation for Success,” will be presented on October 30. Register free now.