Data-driven marketing has been a boon to e-commerce and the retail industry. It gives companies large and small a better understanding and connection to their customers. The back-office technical reality of this powerful innovation, though, is often problematic and complicated.

Data gleaned from multiple channels is sometimes difficult to correlate with your customers, and the sheer volume and diversity of data that’s available about them can be overwhelming. It’s also hard to discern the best way to analyze all this data.

Customers expect that retailers know things like their name, location, and past buying habits, and they expect businesses to anticipate their needs.

The personalized user experience is so commonplace that it’s become a new normal and including personalized data in targeted marketing has become standard practice.

An effective and well-managed data-driven marketing campaign is a must today, so you need to discover and mitigate the data-related risks.

How to Avoid Data-Driven Marketing Mistakes

Here are some data issues that can happen during a marketing campaign.

Too Many Data Sources

With the multitude of data sources today, it’s hard for companies to exercise discipline when choosing the data sets for their marketing campaigns.

Different data channels will have uneven quality issues.

One source might have inconsistent user identification, while another might not include all the data fields you need for your campaign. When data comes from different sources, it can end up in the hands of different teams within your organization and become siloed.

The solution to these problems is to create an overall data collection and storage policy for your business.

It isn’t necessary to use every data set that you have available for a campaign.

Eliminate data complexity by narrowing the data sources and sticking to the more reliable or applicable ones. Keep your digital hygiene simple and accurate, and build up your system incrementally.

Weak or Inconsistent Data Quality

One of the most brand-damaging data problems that can happen is a sudden change in data quality during a campaign.

A data source may have appeared reliable when the marketing campaign began, but it turned out not to be. Wrong pieces of information can create embarrassing messaging if you automatically import the personalization data to the marketing tools you are using.

No matter how personalized your message is, if you send it to the wrong audience, it will be nothing but a wasted effort.

The solution is to set triggers that will pause the campaign or disable individual messages when they detect data problems.

Null fields are easier to detect than bad data, and data hygiene procedures will catch both issues.

Don’t Forget to Be Creative

Of all the data-related issues that can crop up once a marketing campaign kicks off, you can remedy a lack of creative ideas with the least disruption.

If you fail to innovate when you design your marketing content, personalizing it with user data won’t fill the void.

Marketing is still an art of crafting catchy mottos, witty hooks, and meaningful imagery.

Otherwise, your marketing campaign will not reach the engagement rates needed to hit the sales targets.

The tricky part of correcting a staid and boring marketing campaign is redesigning your messages and multimedia content on the fly. Pay close attention to user feedback and reactions so you can course-correct your messaging.

Explore New Ways to Use Existing Data

Besides the need for artistic creativity in marketing, a data-driven campaign will flourish when you use your customer data differently than others.

If your campaign only uses simple personalization tricks that customers expect, your messaging engagement will suffer.

Personalization needs to go beyond the name.

Customers are more likely to respond to new and innovative ways to personalize the marketing experience.

Your technical and marketing designers should collaborate closely to find new ways to put your customer data to work. If either side of the marketing team stays within the conventional box in how they think about using customer data, the campaign won’t be as exciting to your prospects.

A free exchange of ideas is key to making the collaboration fruitful.

Establish a Single Data Repository

Your organization must treat customer data as a shared resource, available when needed.

The best way to drive this collaborative culture is to eliminate silos in the organization and centralize your customer data in a single repository.

If data access problems happen because of internal politics, it can interrupt your marketing campaign or force you to find alternative data sources.

The root of these problems is management disengagement. It’s essential to get buy-in from upper management when creating a data policy and designing your data-driven marketing campaigns.

When the entire organization is on the same page, you’ll be able to reap the full benefits of your data collection efforts.

Include Data Backups in Your Continuity Plan

The worst-case scenario that can happen during a marketing campaign is a loss of data integrity.

Data fields may contain missing information, data formatting may become garbled, or data fields might become mismatched with customer records.

Another scenario is a wholesale loss of data or a disabled database server that prevents your campaign from accessing any customer data. In these situations, you must suspend your campaign to recover.

The solution to these problems will require recovering your data from backup servers. Research the available data recovery providers to be ready for a quick turnaround if you need to recover lost data.

Final Thoughts on Data-Driven Marketing

The technical challenges of running an automated data-driven marketing campaign are complex, and the hurdles become higher when we add the need for creative use of content and data to keep customers engaged.

The problems that can arise during a campaign are many, and we’ve only touched on a few of the most common issues.

Some have organizational problems as their root cause, and others go back to the quality of their data sources.

A collaborative and creative marketing team that works with its data analysts will be able to handle these issues on the fly.

Joe-Peters200Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. Currently he writes for Invenio, data recovery specialists.

When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on Twitter @bmorepeters.

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Staff Writer