‘Junk in, Junk out’. If you work with data, which I’m sure you do, you’ve heard that statement a lot. If you have bad data coming into your systems, you’re going to have bad data on the other end. What’s ironic about the statement is that if you work solely in a Marketing Automation platform (MAP) – like Pardot or Marketo – it’s likely that you’re under the impression the data you’re looking at is pretty good. But in reality, it’s probably not that great.
What’s one thing that MAP’s are all really good at? If you’re thinking it’s segmentation then you’re right! MAP’s are very good at allowing marketing teams to accurately segment their person databases by whichever unique identifiers they’d like. Now, this is great, especially when you’re running marketing campaigns against certain segments, nurture programs, and the like. But..there’s one caveat here. By segmenting your data, you’re looking at the marketing data from a micro perspective instead of a macro one so you’re not able to see the full picture.
Here’s a scenario: You’re asked to run a 30-day campaign for registrants of a recent webinar series. You create your segments based on the registration criteria, set up the emails, and hit send. You notice that you’re getting a moderate bounce rate (call it 3.5%) for the first batch of emails so you’re able to segment them out and continue on. But this campaign is only running for 300 people. It’s safe to say that you’ve got more than just 10 people in the system with bad emails right? It’s likely that you’ll need to move on to the next campaign that needs to be run and will face the same issue.
Safe to say, that scenario is fairly commonplace. Yes, you’re able to see and address the bad data that is there but it’s done in small bits over a long period of time. While, at the same time, your marketing database continues to grow as new leads come into the system from multiple sources.
As marketing becomes more high-tech, companies are able to see their data through a macro lens. It’s not that these MAPs are purposely doing this. They’re exceptional tools that enable marketing to effectively and efficiently nurture leads, execute campaigns, and hand the right folks over to Sales when they’re ready. But they’re really good at covering up bad data because of how efficient they are at enabling segmentation. But, just like anything else, it comes down to having the right process to ensure instead of ‘Junk in,’ it is actually ‘Good data in’.
The first step is using an email validation tool like ZeroBounce or NeverBounce. You can integrate many email validation tools right into your web forms or connect them via APIs/Webhooks, which takes some of the manual processes away. If that isn’t feasible, having a process to manually upload lists of leads for validation into these tools is the next best step. This ensures that every email that comes into your MAP (by any source) is validated to ensure a good sending reputation and all-in-all good data. There are other tools, like phone validation, that are great processes to add. But having clean data starts at the email, which is where 90% of your marketing (and often sales) email communications are going to happen.
Don’t let your marketing automation platform fool you into thinking your data is good. Create a process cadence that ensures you have the right people, with the right data, feeding into the right systems.