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Does this situation sound familiar? You have been tasked with implementing some new buzzwords in your marketing strategy, which sounds great and very exciting until you begin work on, say, an ABM project and realize very quickly that your database is too dirty and in some cases too lacking to actually support that type of advanced initiative. As you start to dig deeper, you realize the problems extend way beyond the surface, and there doesn’t really seem to be anybody in your organization who can account for why things are the way they are, let alone what needs to be done to fix the issues.

This is an all-too-common scenario. Despite the fact that the technology has been around for a while now, and that we have an increasing number of options to help solve problems and enable more advanced tactics; the fact remains that most marketers find themselves severely handicapped when it comes to actually trying to implement a revenue marketing strategy. There are tons of reasons why we find ourselves in this situation: you were hired into it, your company got acquired or merged with another organization, there was a change in executive leadership, a shift in go-to-market strategy—all of these things can have dramatic impacts on the health and usability of a database over time.

Figuring out how to re-align all the pieces can be a painstaking process, particularly when you’re dealing with tools that have been in place for several years, managed by countless hands, and no semblance of intelligent design as it relates to the architecture of the tech-stack. Even if you’re the best marketer on planet Earth you still wouldn’t be able to achieve success implementing strategies like ABM, omnichannel nurture, and predictive content if your foundations are a mess. Luckily, with a bit of elbow-grease and some good old-fashioned brainpower, you can set your organization well on its way to becoming a revenue machine.

When faced with the Herculean challenge of transforming your sales and marketing operations from the ground up, it’s best to do so in a phased approach. Discovery work will highlight the issues we currently face, but it will also highlight opportunities and areas on which you should focus.

Planning and design come next; acting as our blueprint for cleanup and our framework for ongoing production and maintenance.

Finally, you’ll implement your execution strategy: how do you plan to monitor and manage the database going forward? Each phase of this transformation is critical, and it’s important to make sure you’re involving the right people, answering the right questions, and creating alignment and accountability across teams.

Discovery Work

When you begin your work, it’s important to remember that the discovery phase is not simply about conducting an audit of your current situation. Getting a clear view of what you’re up against is only half the battle here. In order to develop and implement new strategies, sales and marketing must be aligned around the organization’s goals. This also means developing processes and SLAs(Service Level Agreements) to enable this. When you have a sense for what you are trying to achieve, it’s easier to assess your situation and come up with a plan to address specific issues and roadblocks in a holistic way.

Planning and Design

The heavy lifting comes when you reach the point where you’re ready to create a plan addressing problems in the database, while defining the rules and processes that technology, data, and people must follow in order to help achieve the organization’s goals. Creating and maintaining a global sales and marketing governance document is a crucial but often neglected task. This document should contain any and all details related to the architecting of the tech-stack, setup and configuration of tools, field and object mapping, data management, lead management and routing processes, and reporting. It’s meant to serve as a centralized point of information that creates accountability among teams, and makes it easier to manage and enforce operational requirements.

Implementing Your Execution Strategy

When you’ve finally reached the point where you’ve identified where you want to go and what you’ll need to do to get there, its time to execute. Now before we dive in deeper, just know that cleanup and maintenance of your systems and database can’t be a one-time exercise. The information that you collect about people is static, while they are not. Your subjects are organic, and as such the way you manage their data must account for a rate of contestant change. It’s important to consider the role of data and system operations as critical, and to elevate the profile of that function so that it’s resourced properly. For smaller companies, having a person or team of people focused on cleanup and governance is a good place to start; for larger companies, or smaller ones looking to scale, consider adding a data orchestration service to your team. Doing so will free your resources to apply more of their energy and effort toward your actual campaigns and initiatives.

Coming up with a plan and process to manage the operational components of your database is the most important step you’ll take in your digital transformation journey. By re-building the foundation, you’re enabling your team to tap into the true power of the platforms they’re using, you’ll finally be able to make use of advanced nurture capabilities, and your teams will spend more time developing, executing, and analyzing campaigns that have a greater impact on performance and revenue.

To dive even deeper into how you can improve your database and move your organization closer to becoming a revenue marketing operation, check out this webinar recording “How to Solve Your Most Common Data Problems” with Alyssa Hewitt, The Pedowitz Group, Emily Salus, Openprise, and Andrew Gaffney, Demand Gen Report.