The Marketer's Case for Less Data
You probably don't need all those Salesforce fields
Marketers. We love our data.
At least we like to talk about being "data-driven" on our LinkedIn profiles.
Either way, we like to talk about big data. Is big data even that useful?
I want to make the argument that more data is not necessarily better. Collecting more intelligence on your customer only sometimes correlates with business success. It certainly can! But many marketers may put more effort into acquiring customer data than doing something with it.
Don't build a data strategy for how pretty a dashboard it may make.
Presentation goes a long way - but actionable information is better for those playing the long game.
Every marketer - brand or client side - is on the hook for reporting on performance metrics. The tools and technology available today give us nearly limitless possibilities on what we could report. Marketing technology is very cool!
I would caution that, instead of reporting on metrics that say, "huh, well, that's interesting," focus on data that you will act on. Customer data and performance metrics are only good if you, you know, use that information to influence your actions as a marketer.
Be honest about the resources you have available.
Sure, some companies are incredible with customer data. Brands like Nike can use their first-party data to create entertaining customer experiences. It's awesome!
Most of us are not with brands that have the resources of a multi-billion dollar corporation. Even the big ones have budget battles internally!
Take an honest inventory of your available resources - both on a people side and a technology side.
Know your limitations and start from there. Limits aren't bad in themselves, but not being aware of them can be. It's better to build a functional marketing area with a smaller scope with higher accuracy than trying to embark on something completely unsustainable. Prove how much value you can provide with what you have; you may get the necessary resources to expand down the road.
Don't forget about data governance.
Marketers tend to focus so much on data collection that we forget the governance part. After all, it's not nearly as compelling. The chase for more data is fun! Keeping it up-to-date isn't nearly as sexy.
But man, it's crucial.
You honestly should only track activity and collect data on customers to the extent that you'd be able to keep it up to date reasonably. For most of us, that will result in trying to keep up with far less. There shouldn't be a field in your Salesforce instance that isn't going to help you make a better business decision at some point.
Trying to juggle more data than you can manage has two big vulnerabilities.
If you are trying to deliver a personalized experience with bad data, that could be a worse customer experience than not reaching out to a customer.
Governments are starting to regulate how much data companies can keep on customers. Customers have (slightly) more power over what information they volunteer. That's not a trend that will change anytime soon. The less erroneous data you have to migrate or justify, the easier to comply with new regulations.
My Own Experience
Our team wrapped up a project transitioning from a more legacy CRM system used by other prominent law firms to a native Salesforce instance. A significant part of that transition is data migration. With the help of a partner, we performed an extensive audit of all the fields initially set up in our existing CRM.
We took a page from Marie Kondo and eliminated data points that did not spark joy. Our findings led us to eliminate ~90% of the fields in our old CRM in the transition to Salesforce.
Has that reduction hurt us? Not in the least. We likely have richer data and more creative ways to segment our audiences than we have previously. Less truly can be more.
You can read more about that project here on Wilson-Allen's website.
What about you? Do you take the approach of "it doesn't hurt to have too much data on someone in case we need it later?"
Or are you a contact field minimalist like myself?