marie kondo data

The story goes that Marie Kondo – that guru of tidy – has always been organized. Have you seen her method for folding clothes? Amazing.

Of course, not everybody has the “tidying up” gene like the inspiring Marie Kondo. Some of us struggle to keep order. Even in our roles as marketers, there are myriad benefits to getting our business in a more manageable state. One of the most important places to start is the data.

Marketers cannot be effective if they are wasting time and resources with cluttered, obsolete, incomplete, or siloed data. To reach the right audience and grow their business, they need an accurate and clear view of their best customers.

Today, marketers are investing in smart data strategies involving data clean-up and identity resolution to ensure they’re reaching the right customers and prospects. In fact, in their State of Data 2020 report, IAB and Winterberry Group found spending on data management, processing, and hygiene solutions rose 9.8% in 2019.

Marie Kondo’s approach can inspire a data strategy that yields more relevant communications with customers and better business results. Here are six steps to take to Marie Kondo your marketing data:

1. Assess data quality and commit to positive change.

Data quality issues plague the most sophisticated marketers. Aite Group in 2019 reported that 75% of financial industry marketing executives said data cleansing was somewhat or very challenging.

Some marketers may not realize there is something wrong with their data, even though their marketing results are lackluster. One retail client I’ve worked with knew their loyalty program had delivered poor ROI. It turned out it was a symptom of a problem we isolated to help determine the most appropriate strategy for a larger data overhaul. More on that in a bit.

It’s up to your company to commit to alleviating data quality problems.

2. Imagine the ideal state of your data

Like a well-organized closet or garage, your company’s ideal data state will be somewhat dependent on the type of business you’re in.

Retailers and CPG brands have access to and rely on different types of customer information than telcos or financial services firms, for example. And they each have particular needs when it comes to the degree of identity resolution they need.

Distinct goals and data regulations require a variety of approaches, from internal data management to external management, to a hybrid approach. IAB and Winterberry Group found that – when it comes to data integration, database management, data hygiene, and identity resolution – at least 50% of organizations said they rely on external services or an internal-external hybrid.

  • How to decide? Simply assessing what data you have is not enough. Businesses should conduct a gap analysis to help get a handle on how data goals align with overall business strategy. Without one, marketers run the risk of persistent data gaps or paying too much for third-party data that does not achieve their ideal data state.

3. Finish discarding inaccurate and obsolete data first.

Now there’s an even tougher task at hand: assessing the mess and discarding data that’s stale, incorrect or just plain useless. Only then can marketers truly clarify who their best customers are.

That requires de-duplicating information. Remember that retailer whose loyalty program was falling flat? Because of duplicate customer records, they were sending multiple irrelevant direct mail messages to the same household! De-duplicating their data led to cost-efficiencies and higher conversions. The retailer reduced catalog distribution costs by 5-10%, saving around $4 million. And target segments converted 32% higher across channels.

4. Remove data clutter by category, not location.

To Marie Kondo your marketing data requires a holistic approach, organizing things based on category rather than the room they’re in. And her approach actually makes a ton of sense from a data perspective. It means businesses should organize across-the-board based on data fields such as email address or phone number rather than within data silos or feeds.

In a retail setting, store locations, e-commerce, catalog sales, and loyalty card records create disconnected in-store and online identity fragments. One client I worked with had multiple disparate databases including prospect, customer, and loyalty databases. The brand had no idea when they sent a prospect message to someone who was already inside the customer database.

Using the data field approach, the company validated and categorized records across databases according to email address. So, they resolved customer identity – and stopped annoying actual customers.

5. Prioritize and remove data disorder.

Decluttering works because it allows us to prioritize. That’s true for kitchen tools or shoes as well as marketing data.

So, to Marie Kondo your data, marketers should prioritize which data categories demand immediate attention based on which types of information are most crucial for their business success. If a brand’s number one tactic for communication with customers or prospects is email, it doesn’t make sense to start cleanup and organization according to phone number. In fact, that could be information that’s missing from a lot of customer profiles.

Simply put, prioritize what counts most for the business.

6. Spark marketing joy through data confidence.

Yes, this is the phrase that got Marie Kondo all the attention. As she would say, tidying up sparks joy and transforms your life.

As marketers, we know there’s almost nothing worse than the fear that your data is of poor quality. The caliber of your data and how well it is managed can mean the difference between huge business growth and closing the doors.

A commitment to take action and put your data house in order will instill confidence and trust in your marketing. Knowing your data is accurate and organized, ensuring campaigns are reaching the right audiences at the right time will lead to a very positive marketing experience.

It could even spark marketing joy.