Customer data management (CDM) is how top brands keep track of, store, and use all consumer information collected digitally and offline. The lifeblood of your organization, CDM is highly complex, constantly in flux, and fluid; this makes it challenging to be successful.

The problem is that many organizations easily fall into customer data silos where a hodgepodge of databases, applications, systems, and software collect random data that is rarely used or analyzed. That’s why customer data management should be a top priority. When done correctly, CDM can help your business harmonize all data about your customers so that it’s clean and consistent.

The goal of CDM is to simplify and improve your customer relationship management (CRM) programs. Through analytics, CDM should help your marketing and sales teams identify high-value customers, create effective marketing campaigns, uncover cross-selling opportunities, and more.

With that in mind, we’ve collected four tips and best practices for managing and using your customer data systematically and effectively.

Set Data Goals

As you’re collecting and organizing your data, you’re going to want goals in place. These goals will help you determine what is considered necessary and valuable information and how you’ll use it. Without goals, you’ll end up capturing irrelevant data that’s there “just in case you need it,” which will ultimately lead to your analysts being buried under a pile of data they can’t use.

Before creating surveys, sign-up forms, or investing in data software, decide what you consider a critical data point—data you would use to define a customer segment.

Just remember that critical data is different at various stages of the customer journey. While the customer is in the exploratory phase, all you probably require is a name and an email for communication. However, as their purchase intent is proven, you’ll want to know more. For example, what products are they interested in, where do they spend their time online, how will they decide to move forward with a purchase?

By setting goals for your data at the start, you’ll know what data you need to gather, how you’ll use it, and when it’s most useful.

Focus on Relevant Data

Each day, we generate more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Your business is living in an age of data abundance with data sources becoming more diverse than ever. Big data is the keyword on everyone’s lips, and everyone is selling new software and tools to obtain and generate more data. But not all data is created equal.

Your business only has so much time and energy to devote to data management and organization. So, it’s best if you focus only on the data most relevant to actually improving your business—intent data.

Intent data provides the most accurate information about the actual buyer journey. It helps you improve the performance of everything from your account-based marketing (ABM) to advertising, and demand generation by helping you predict who’s in the market and ready to purchase from you. This is valuable and relevant data that stands out in the noise.

Cleanse Your Data Regularly

Up to 25% of the average B2B marketer’s database is inaccurate. This can affect your costs, customer confidence, and more.

As we said, there’s a lot of data out there. One of the most essential aspects of customer data management is data cleansing—getting rid of outdated, broken, and useless data. If you keep all your data, even data that’s is coming from a faulty feed or broken process, your customer data becomes worthless.

Instead, you need to focus on only keeping the most up-to-date information about your customers. Otherwise, the data isn’t just unhelpful, but it can actually harm your business. There are many reasons to focus on data cleansing.

  • Customer behavior is fluid and information changes regularly. Data cleansing ensures your information accurately reflects your customer’s journey.
  • Data shapes how you communicate with your customers, so it’s important to know their most up-to-date contact information and preferences.
  • Data cleansing helps you get rid of outdated contacts and customers who have no purchase intent.
  • Cleansed data leads to more actionable marketing and sales campaigns, better segment creation, and more effective customer-facing strategies.

Create a Unified Customer Profile

You’re probably gathering customer data from a variety of places. The problem is that most companies keep their data separate and never put all the ices of the puzzle together because they’re caught in “data silos.” This is a huge missed opportunity to gain a holistic and complete view of your customers.

The truth is that you can’t provide an experience to a customer you don’t know, so you need a way to gather all of your customer data into one location. When you do this, you can create a unified profile of your customers, which is the highlight of effective customer management.

Your customers aren’t just one piece of data—their purchase intent, their email clicks, or their in-store campaigns—they are every interaction they’ve ever had with your company online and offline. You need to not only track all of this information, but you also need to put it all together and understand how it all relates to each other and their journey with you.

CDM Is Essential

There’s no doubt that customer data is the lifeblood of your organization, but it’s only valuable if it’s managed properly. If you collect data just for the sake of having more data but don’t take the necessary measures to manage and use it effectively, it’s a waste of money and time. Instead, you need to go about your customer data management strategically in order to enhance your customer’s experience, improve your marketing and sales teams, and impact the bottom line.