Far from a flavor-of-the-month sales technique, account-based marketing (ABM) has proven to be a viable, valuable strategy for turning leads into buyers and maximizing your marketing and sales resources. But if your organization is like most, the shift from your traditional sales and marketing operations to your ABM focus has incurred a few extra costs along the way—personalizing and delivering customized messages to specific prospects comes at a price. Combine this with the increasing pressure to show return on every dollar of your investment, and it’s easy to see why it’s so important to ensure you’re giving your ABM program every advantage it needs to be successful. And that success starts with your data.

Good Data Makes for Good Decisions

Fact: You can have the best software with all of the bells and whistles in the world, and the most qualified sales team capable of closing insane deals, but if your data stinks you’ve got nothing. And while it’s true that you don’t have 100% control over everything that goes into your CRM or marketing automation platform (whether you enter it or it is automatically captured by the software) the reality is that that data is going to ultimately determine whether your ABM strategies succeed or fail, so it’s important that you focus on getting it right as often as you can.

Think about it this way: when you’re launching a new plan, where do you look for insights on how to proceed? That’s right, at your history and your previous results. You answer questions like, “Who has purchased from us in the past?” and “What promotions did they receive?” to get a rough idea of what may happen in the future. You need to be able to rely on the data you’re accessing so that you can make informed decisions moving forward.

The cleaner you’re able to keep your database, the easier it will be to locate important strategic accounts, as well as develop ABM account lists and tiers. And of course, don’t stop your commitment to data quality there; continuing your quest to keep data quality high will keep you from missing out on important opportunities, reporting false positives or overlooking behavioral or firm-based trends that duplicate or incomplete data can skew scoring on.

Getting Your Data in Tip Top Shape

When it comes to your marketing automation or CRM database, the name of the game is continual progress over perfection. Follow these tips to help boost your data’s overall quality:

Share the Wealth

Data governance is not something that one person tackles; it is a shared responsibility throughout your organization. To ensure that everyone in your organization understands their role, create a Data Governance and Quality committee comprised of representatives from marketing, IT and sales that is collectively responsible for your systems. Task them with documenting data processes and responsible parties in a written Data Governance manual. And schedule regular reviews and updates to both your governance processes and your manual so that you can account for new trends and report on key metrics.

Closely Manage Fields

Data entry fields are one of the easiest ways for “bad” data to get into your system, so keeping a close eye on these is imperative to your data (and ABM) success. Identify important firm-focused and behavioral data in your database and the fields where this info resides, then be crystal clear on which users and which platforms should have access to these fields and when they should/shouldn’t be updated. Don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution here and then gradually increase access as necessary.

Look Twice, Enter Once

With companies often having several different divisions or subsidiaries (think Siemens and Siemens AG, for example) it’s easy to see how information could inadvertently be entered into the wrong place. Take a second look before associating a contact’s name with a specific account—this will not only help keep your data clean, keeping you from adding a contact who didn’t actually influence an opportunity—and will save you the embarrassment of sending the wrong message to the wrong person.

Special thanks to Caryl Mostacho for contributing ideas to this post.


Want more on cleaning and managing your data? Download our 41-point checklist for auditing your Marketo instance.