Inspect your marketing data to ensure you have the facts
Is the marketing data you’re reporting complete and accurate? Are you confident your data isn’t under-reporting or over-reporting? Do you truly achieve the success you broadcast across your organization? If you’re not proactively inspecting and cleaning your data, there's a good chance you're unable to say yes to these questions.
Understanding your data at the most granular level shouldn't be left to your marketing analytics practitioners. You must know for yourself what is and isn't included in your data. Becoming a marketing leader requires you work hard to track the marketing tactics you create and account for them in your measurement and reporting.
Inventory The Marketing Tactics You Create
Creating an inventory of the marketing tactics you create enables a single list of what should be included in your data. It also enables you to easily spot things that mistakenly get included but shouldn't be included in your data. This is especially important if you share technology and analytics tools with others.
Relying on technology systems alone to determine what gets included and not included in your marketing data is a mistake. It's not uncommon for marketing campaigns to be setup incorrectly in campaign tracking tools, or excluded in data due to technology system export errors. Keeping an offline inventory provides a checklist for quality assurance and ensures that everything you expect to be included gets included each and every time you pull your marketing data.
Meticulously Inspect Your Marketing Data
Knowing that everything you expected to be included in your data was actually included only happens if you inspect your data after it's been gathered and aggregated. Even automated data gathering and aggregation are prone to issues, so you must implement quality assurance practices. Without quality assurance practices, there is a high likelihood that your marketing data will not include what you believe it should include.
After you've confirmed exactly what you expect to be included is in fact included, it's important to review the completeness of information. Are all numeric fields complete? Are all text and META data fields complete? Ensuring that no unexpected blank fields and values exist reinforces that everything is being included and calculated where intended.
You should also confirm that all text and META data is formatted correctly and free of typos to ensure nothing gets excluded due to errors. You'll want to make sure all values are spelled consistently so multiple versions of single values don't create complexities. Inconsistent META data is a common cause of marketing tactics being excluded in data and reporting
Create Layers of Quality Assurance
Large amounts of data can be difficult to review, especially if the data is updated frequently. While it's important you personally inspect your data to confirm it includes what you expect, including others in the review process is necessary to spot other types of issues.
Having those that setup the marketing tactics in the technology systems participate in the review process enables you to double check accuracy of setup and export. Marketers that execute the campaign are an important layer, as they're best positioned to confirm what they see in the data aligns to what they pushed into market.
Adding automated quality control mechanisms is another valuable quality assurance layer, as they enable you to spot unique issues that are easily missed by the human eye. Adding automated processes that check for zeros when there shouldn't be any, or atypical increases or decreases across time periods, helps you spot elusive issues that have major impact on the accuracy of your data.
Understanding your data at the most granular level sets you up for data-driven marketing and reporting success. Without these practices, there is enormous risk that your marketing data and reporting is not accurate and the success you think you’ve achieved is actually significantly different than you think.
Confirming everything you created is included, and nothing unintended slipped in, is the foundation for data accuracy. Inspecting that values are completed in full, and free of errors, heightens accuracy by closing problematic gaps. Adding layers of manual and automated quality assurance raises other types of issues that may be lurking. Combined, these practices will make you confident that your success is real and your reporting is accurate.
Ask Yourself These Questions
- How can I simply inventory the marketing tactics I create?
- What are the most common types of issues I see in my review?
- How can I quickly fill data gaps and fix data errors where needed?
- What quality control processes should I automated?
- Who else should help review the data for quality assurance?
About John Fildes
I grow the bottom line by connecting marketing to business strategy. By leveraging powerful positioning, content marketing, and client insights, I help CEOs drive qualitative and quantitative results at scale.
I've built an amazing network of incredibly talented people over the years. What I've appreciated most is those who have invested in me, mentored me, and helped me become the talented professional I am today. I pay it forward by doing the same for other high performing professionals and entrepreneurs.
All views are my own and not those of my current or prior employers.