In Dovetail’s last article, I provided an overview of TAFI, an acronym that states an organization’s marketing data must be Trustworthy, Accessible, Fresh, and Integrated to be actionable. This is the second article in a series of five, and its focus is on Trustworthy marketing data.

Back in the day, I was the Director of Operations for an environmental company that did work in the petroleum industry. Our primary function was to monitor underground gasoline tanks for leaks. I was not a marketer, but the CEO and VP of Marketing would ask me how many tanks we were currently monitoring (customers) and how many of our client’s tanks were not being monitored (warm leads). In addition, since we could upsell services based on specific types of tanks, I counted those tanks too. I was a tank counting machine. Even back then I was a bit of a technology geek; I spent hours tinkering with and accessing various systems to get my counts. And I started to notice something. Depending on the system, I would get different answers, different counts. Sometimes the variation was minor, but other times it was significant. I will never forget the day that the CEO called each of the department heads into the room and asked us how many tanks Company N had, how many tanks we were currently monitoring, how many we were not monitoring, and how many tanks were type X, Y, and Z. Everyone in the room had a different answer. I am pretty sure we weren’t the first company to have such a scenario occur!

It turns out that the CEO’s primary focus was marketing. I knew little about marketing. But I did know enough to say that a) our data was not trustworthy, and b) we were counting tanks for marketing purposes using systems that existed to support other business functions—not marketing. Little did I know that the seeds of my database marketing career were being planted.

That was 1996. Now, it’s 2014, and the need for organizations to have trustworthy marketing data is greater than ever. And given our data inundated world, lack of trustworthy data permeates the marketing landscape like never before. The following will help make your marketing data trustworthy:

  • A marketing database system must be enacted to support your marketing data needs. If you substitute one or two primary operational systems in lieu of a marketing database solution, your data will not be trustworthy for marketing purposes.
  • Business rules specific to your marketing function must be identified, determined, and implemented, creating datasets that are custom to marketing, trustworthy for marketing purposes.
  • Data needs to be managed at levels appropriate to your business. For instance, you may need counts at the unique individual, household, address, email, and phone number level. These levels need to be accurately managed in order for your data to be trustworthy for marketing purposes.
  • Consumers and their associated transactions need to be defined. For instance, if you determine records with the same first name and email address are the same person and should be rolled-up into one record, regardless of their phone number or postal address, you create accurate data you can depend on for marketing purposes.
  • Data validation and quality control processes must be established to ensure your marketing data is clean, dependable, and trustworthy.

Trustworthy marketing data is essential to your database marketing efforts. Trustworthy is the first component of TAFI, and one of four key traits to attain and maintain actionable marketing data. The next article will discuss Access, the “A” in TAFI.

The next article in this series is The “A” Stands for Accessible Data.