In this guest post, Damon Mudge (pictured below), director of marketing and advertising technology at advertising services agency Audience Group, talks how to conduct a first-party data audit to inform marketing and advertising strategy and the broader business case for doing so…
You’ve got more data than you know what to do with, but are you using the right data to feed insights into your advertising and media strategy? Are you harnessing the power of rich, relevant data for advanced analytics and making informed decisions about your advertising investments?
Whether you’re just hopping onto the data-driven bandwagon or looking to fine-tune your data strategy, the next crucial step is to perform a First-Party Data Audit.
This will require collaboration. Leadership must endorse data sharing across teams, business units, and silos. Marketing must be actively engaged since they’ll be integrating data into strategy development. Naturally, the IT team needs to be part of the process, and this is a chance for relationship-building between the IT and Marketing departments if that’s something that needs work. Ideally, you will be guided by colleagues or partners with data management and analytics expertise.
A data audit will reveal the three essential data types every advertiser needs: the data your marketing team currently uses, the data they wish they had, and the data they’re unaware of but could significantly benefit from.
No gatekeeping here. Here’s how to approach a First-Party Data Audit.
The Data You Know
The first data category for your audit is the data already incorporated into your marketing and advertising strategy, used by both your marketing team and any collaborating agencies or suppliers. This is the data your marketing team can recite from memory: customer demographics, website analytics, social media engagement, information from your CRM and other marketing tools etc.
This list should be descriptive. Who owns the data? Where does it live? If you’re creating a table for this (you are, aren’t you?) add columns for things like how to access the data and how it is currently being used. Make sure to note how each type of data is collected and identify the collection points. Another column should capture whether the data set is being shared with any third-party suppliers. This is a good time to review technical and contractual controls related to each data set.
This list may have you feeling like you’re using plenty of data, already, but it’s just the beginning. There’s always room for improvement.
Imagine the potential when this data is enriched and merged with even more relevant information, enabling your media buying and advertising services agency to analyse customer trends, pinpoint growth areas, and refine your advertising strategy.
The Data on Marketing’s Wishlist
The second category of data to include in your data audit consists of data to which marketers wish they had access. This is known, first-party data belonging to other parts of the business and the marketing team is low key jealous.
For instance, your marketing team might often wish for access to inventory levels and order volumes so they could be more proactive at promoting and pushing overstocked product.
Examples of data sets for this wish list include real-time sales data, regional product availability, records from call centres or customer service departments, customer lifetime value, financial results, KPIs from various business segments, forecasts, and business objectives.
Additionally, consider data stored in third-party applications or platforms, such as ticket sales or appointment booking data stored and managed by external suppliers. Though you may be aware of this data’s existence, it might not have been categorised as first-party data. Collaborate with your suppliers and invest some technical effort to integrate it. This data could be working for you!
Add this wish list data to your First-Party Data Audit table, filling in those columns about how it’s collected, where it’s stored and who owns it. Add in columns for thoughts on how it might be used, and notes about what it’ll take to remove barriers to this information so it can be shared, accessed and put to work.
The Data Marketing Isn’t Aware Of
The third and some might say most intriguing category is what we call “invisible data.” This data could be valuable but it’s unknown to your marketing team, making it impossible for them to request it.
Or perhaps the data is unstructured, and thus its true potential can be hard to recognise. It could be a data set that’s so mysterious that no one on your team even knows quite what’s in there.
To unlock the value of “invisible data,” collaborate with a data scientist who specialises in marketing. They can help identify the data gaps and guide its integration into your marketing plan. With the right expertise and questions, hidden treasures can become valuable assets.
Actually, a Data Audit is a great Whole-of Business idea
If you’re working on the business case for a data audit, the value goes well beyond leveraging more data for better marketing and advertising decisions.
Unstructured data sets that no one really understands are all too common and can be risky to the business. They need to be dealt with, accordingly, and that will be a job for whoever’s in charge of data management, protection, security and regulatory compliance.
Pulling from the latest high-profile cyber security news, there’s the risk of storing unnecessary personally identifiable information (PII) and being responsible for that data being leaked in a data breach or ransomware attack. Plus, if your organisation cannot say with confidence what data is being stored and where, it will be ill prepared for expected Privacy Act changes. For example, under data deletion request regulation, which is part of the European Union’s GDPR and could easily be in the cards for Australia, if a customer demands to be deleted, your organisation must immediately know where all their data is in order to comply.
In today’s data-driven marketing landscape, a data audit is a vital component of any organisation’s marketing strategy and of its data governance and cybersecurity efforts.
The effort invested will be worthwhile and the benefit can even be measurable. Because you’ll be leveraging business intelligence to steer marketing and advertising strategy, you can optimise advertising spend and boost business profitability. Now that’s monetising your data.
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