Get Your Data Into Shape

Get your data into shape for the New Year

At the beginning of each year, I like to define a few personal goals. I feel like this time of the year is a good opportunity to reflect on the goals I set and the year that’s been. This year has been an interesting journey. Working at Columbus, we have seen the partnership with Merkle take shape, their vision and strategy is one that presents a huge opportunity for the Australian market. We have also seen the rollout of the GDPR, which in my opinion, was a much-needed set of guidelines on how companies in Europe (and many locally) can store and use personal data.

We’ll always have buzzwords. Big Data, DMP, AI, AR and this year it was Machine Learning (or ML) that seemed to be the phrase of choice. Technology and data through cloud solutions have both become more accessible than ever before in 2018. We have been presented with countless examples of how businesses used their data to target customers more effectively, to increase sales by X% or drive up revenue by Y%. In 2018 I’ve worked with multiple brands to uncover opportunities, create propensity models, churn analysis and solutions to help influence cross-sell opportunities. Although it seems everyone is talking about these solutions, the reality is, there are typically only a small number of brands that are in a strong position to bring these opportunities to life. Quite often these solutions can be derailed by trivial issues such as politics, historic agreements or simply a misunderstanding of what can be done or what is involved.

There are bigger decisions that need to be made long term. What Martech solution is going to meet all my business objectives? Are there seamless integrations with all the partners I work with? How can I activate a personalised experience for my customers end to end? Realistically, many brands simply don’t own their data which presents a challenge in itself. There are limitations with using a free analytics product, data may be sampled, there may be limits on integrations or simply limits on the amount of data points you can capture. Identifying the right technology solution is a big decision that can take many months to assess. However, more often than not, a lot can be gained by the implementation of simple fixes, ensuring that campaigns are effectively tagged or ensuring that key onsite interactions are captured within your analytics platform of choice. These simple solutions will not only give you more effective data immediately, but it will also help to position the importance of data and analytics across the organisation.

If you’re not ready to make the move and invest in a full, end to end solution, focus on getting the foundations right first. There are immediate actions you can take to ensure that you are getting all the data you need. Often, it can be a simple implementation that will lead to those big wins long term. For example, are your emails effectively tagged? Simply by adding a few parameters to URL’s in an email, you can potentially create a connection between two platforms.  Cleaning up your data and using a clear and logical set of naming conventions is critical for any kind of deep dive or data analysis. Creating Dashboards or Data visualisations from erroneous datasets will be difficult and costly to manage long term. There are some brands that are doing attribution more effectively than others, but any sort of attribution will be effectively meaningless if you don’t have a complete picture and capture all possible data points. If you’re not already, you need to be acting now.

Getting the basics right will not only form a basis for good decision making, but it will also help to position data, technology and analytics across the business and therefore make conversations with key decision makers across the business easier. So, my goals for 2019 are not about investing big, it’s about building the foundations. Finding the small wins and focusing on getting data into shape for the new year.

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