By this point, it’s probably been drilled into your head that a content marketing campaign is essential to your company’s success. In many ways, content is the bread and butter of the modern marketer. But you can’t butter your bread without a knife. And in this metaphor (bear with us here), data quality acts as your cutlery. And it’s this simple: you can’t run a data-driven content marketing strategy if you don’t have good data.
The accuracy and quality of the data you collect affects every single one of your marketing decisions, from the buyer personas you create to the content you put together to attract your ideal customers. If that data is outdated or incomplete, it throws off the scope of your efforts. And if you’re stuck marketing to the wrong people or peddling the wrong message… well, that’s problematic, to say the least.
Read on to learn more about data quality, why it’s important to any data-driven content marketing strategy, and a few best practices to ensure you keep your marketing data fresh.
What is data-driven content marketing?
The more data you have at your disposal, the more information you have about your customers’ interests, needs, preferences, and more. Data-driven content marketing refers to a strategy in which analyzing data informs all of your content marketing efforts — from the content you create to the channels you use to distribute it.
But data quantity is useless if you don’t also prioritize data quality. Bad data is like bad directions — it steers you to make the wrong decisions in your business strategy without even knowing it.
For example: you want to put together a content marketing campaign. Based on demographic information you’ve collected on your customers, you distribute a content asset to a specific segment of your target audience. But, let’s say that data you used is largely out-of-date or just plain inaccurate. The campaign falls flat, and you’ve got no idea why — because you didn’t realize you were using low-quality data until it was too late.
Data quality depends on several factors:
- Accuracy: Do your data profiles contain correct information? Poor data collection methods can lead you to store false information, which can wreak havoc on the overall health of your database if it goes unchecked.
- Completeness: Do you collect a wide variety of data types and attributes? If you only have access to a few basic data points, you won’t have a comprehensive understanding of an individual customer, prospect, or your audience as a whole.
- Relevance: Is the data you’re collecting relevant to your business strategy? Or is your database full of superfluous details that tell you nothing about your ideal customers?
- Freshness: Has your data been cleaned and updated on a recurring basis, or has it been left untouched since it first entered your database?
- Consistency: Is your customer data consistent in depth, quality, and freshness across your entire database?
With these key factors in mind, how confident are you in your company’s data quality? A startling 50% of B2B sales and marketing professionals reported that they aren’t confident at all (source). A lack of confidence impacts the adoption of strategic B2B marketing and sales initiatives down the line. This potentially leads to a gap between what leaders are saying versus what they’re doing, which is why data quality should be an integral part of any data-driven content strategy.
So how does data confidence work to eliminate that disconnect? Read on to dive into the ways data quality impacts your marketing initiatives.
How does data quality affect your content marketing efforts?
As stated in a previous blog post, data decay and inaccuracy can harm your business. Data quality directly plays into the efficiency and productivity of your team, as well as the success of your content. Without high-quality data, you can’t reach your target audience consistently, let alone understand what they need and want. And you certainly can’t market data-driven content effectively or gain long-term loyalty and a competitive advantage.
If it sounds like using bad data is a total disaster—well, it sort of is.
Consider these statistics (source):
- 40% of business objectives fail due to inaccurate data.
- Bad data costs U.S. businesses more than $611 billion each year.
- Inaccurate data has a direct impact on the bottom line of 88% of businesses, with the average company losing 12% of its revenue as a result.
On the other hand, high-quality data is a boon to your company. Let’s look at some of the ways your data-driven content efforts improve when you have good data at your disposal.
1. More accurate audience targeting.
A lack of accurate demographic data means you’re pretty much shooting in the dark. Modern content marketing campaigns must be highly-targeted to break through the digital noise — it’s no longer sufficient to simply create content and hope it reaches the right people. You must use the right channels, timing, and messaging if you want to get your content in front of your ideal customers. Good data allows you to pinpoint who your target audience is, and more importantly, where to find them.
2. Stronger alignment for consistent branding.
Say your teams don’t have access to the same high-quality data. It’s only a matter of time before you’re sending duplicate messages, collecting outdated information, and making other errors that doom your brand image. When your entire marketing team, as well as all other departments, have access to the same high-quality data, you provide a more trustworthy image to your customers and build a consistent, distinguished brand.
3. Higher customer satisfaction rates.
Collecting data through surveys and other methods not only gives you access to new, up-to-date data, it also enables you to refine your content to better fit your customers’ needs and preferences. Only through diligent collection of data and customer feedback will you have the necessary information to enhance the customer experience.
Top 5 Data Quality Best Practices for Content Marketing
Bad data negatively affects too many aspects of your marketing approach to let it linger. You miss opportunities to find new clients, lose revenue, and build a pretty embarrassing reputation for yourself. On the other hand, good data quickly propels you to the top in terms of service, customer relations, and content quality. Without further ado, here are our top tips for properly handling and updating your data, ensuring a squeaky-clean database.
1. Establish data entry goals and standards.
To maintain the quality of your data, it’s essential to establish a certain set of standards for collecting, handling, and storing it. Clearly document your process for data gathering, input, storage, and maintenance. Make sure these requirements are distributed across your entire organization so that data quality becomes a company-wide priority.
Research suggests that establishing a data collection policy is one of the top methods of improving your marketing data quality (source). Much of the process can be automated, so there’s no excuse not to define a clear and specific policy for data collection and database maintenance.
2. Make sure the whole company has access to the same data.
As we mentioned before, your company will never be well-aligned if your teams are using separate data sets.
One way to ensure alignment is to integrate your sales and marketing technologies. When the tools used by your entire organization integrate with one another, you avoid data being stored in separate siloes, which leads to inevitable breakdowns in communication. It’s this simple: the data you use to inform a data-driven content strategy should be the same data your sales team uses to engage with customers, and so on.
3. Audit your database to identify weaknesses.
Unfortunately, your database almost certainly contains dirty data as we speak— that’s just the nature of the business. Before you can move forward, prioritize data audits so you can uncover any deficiencies in your database. If you identify a trend or recurring issue, it might be time to reconsider your data collection methods to ensure you stop bad data from continuing to contaminate your database.
Final Thoughts on Data-Driven Content Marketing
No matter what your approach to content marketing is, high-quality data is essential to your success. Without it, you won’t be able to paint an accurate picture of your target customers, and without that picture, you’re shooting in the dark.
By taking precautions to collect accurate data and putting in the time to continually prune and improve it, you set up a relevant, always-evolving database. From there, high-quality content marketing initiatives are just on the horizon.
Contact ZoomInfo today to learn how our B2B contact database can grow your marketing initiatives and scale results for increased success.