You cannot watch television, listen to the radio or surf the web without encountering an advertisement from a company touting the phrase that data drives the digital economy. What does this actually mean?
The web has allowed companies to collect an unprecedented amount of information on consumer buying habit and preferences. The term commonly used to for this level of data collection is “Online Behavioral Advertising” also known as OBA. The result is that companies can very specifically target their message to customers that are most likely to buy their product or service.
Sophisticated companies can track a customer’s buying preference and are able to predict when a customer is likely to buy. These companies are driving Maseratis on the information superhighway.
At the other end of the spectrum are small businesses. Most small businesses do not have the level of sophistication to perform this level of online tracking themselves, but there are tools that allow small businesses to utilize OBA and predict buying behavior. However, in order to take advantage of these tools, you must understand how your data is collected, have a plan to manage it, and care for it.
Many small businesses are driving around in the digital economy with a learners permit and often do silly things just like a teenager.
One of those silly things that can result in a costly mistake is loading every bit of data they have to a cloud based service such as SalesForce, HubSpot or Active Campaign before they do any clean-up work.
Contact and prospect data decays at an alarming rate. Statistics published by some of the industry leader state that as much as 20% of contact data becomes stale and outdated each year.
If your company is still driving the information superhighway with a learner’s permit, here are some tips to help you get your license and work toward driving that Maserati.
Gather Your Sources – Companies often use multiple systems for storing data. They may have an accounting system, a shipping system and a sales system. Do you best to collect all of this data.
Analyze the Data – Not all data is created equal. More specifically, some contact data records have emails and some do not. Some records have complete address data and others only have partial data. Finally and perhaps most importantly, take a close look at data associated with a particular contact record such as purchase history, inquiry history, sales call history and the like. This data is very valuable and every effort should be made to preserve it and hopefully it is attached to a record with complete contact details.
Cleanse and Combine – Keep your data clean. Make sure that email addresses are accurate and remove bounced email addresses. Check your postal addresses and make sure that they are complete and accurate. Does each address have a full street address, city, state, and postal code? Use services such as address cleansing and National Change of Address.
Categorize Your Data According to Type, Need and Interest – All customers and prospects are not the same, especially if you sell multiple products or services. To focus your effort on the best prospects and customers, create a system to categorize your prospects and customers by product/service, interest level and need. For example, a prospect may be interested in Product A, has a High Likelihood to buy and the time frame to buy is 1 -3 months.
If you collect business cards at various events such as trade show other meetings, make notes as soon as possible on the card that match up with your categories. For example, if you collect a card from John Doe, and he has an immediate need for your product, his codes might be Product = X, Interest = A, and Time Frame = A. This way, you will not forget the details when you enter him in your system.
Automate – If you do not automate your sales and prospect system in today’s digital economy, you will get run off the road. Once you have gathered all of your customer and prospect data, clean it up and then use a sales automation tool like Salesforce, Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, or any of the countless others that exist on the market.
However, before you do enter this data into a system make sure it is clean. More specifically, are the postal and email addresses valid? Has the person moved or the business closed? Are there duplicate records in your file? There are countless contact data quality services available today and a Google search of contact data quality management will lead you right to them. Before you jump in and spend a large sum of money with any of these vendors, run a small test. If you get good results, then move forward with a full file cleanse.
If you follow these simple steps, you will be on your way to driving the information superhighway with a full-fledged license