In trying to cope with the challenges of Big Data, are we missing the fact that some data feeds just aren't worth integrating?

Moreover, isn't focusing on "quite Big Data," identifying the sources that matter, and using thin marketing budgets wisely much more important?

Organizations are in the process of identifying which sources of data, mainly digital, are most useful to them in providing the insight required to drive ROI. There are three main groups that are separated by their ability to handle the complexity of data available to them.

Very few companies are true integrators of systems, processes, content, and message. The majority are struggling with the complexity of the systems and skills required to use digital marketing.

Some companies are still uncommitted to this investment and at the experimentation stage, in which true benefit will not be derived due to lack of general integration and effort.

Some organizations have undergone large-scale multiyear data management initiatives to improve integration, only to find that the diversity, incompleteness, and rate of change in marketing data sources greatly diminished many intended benefits.

However, not all data integrations are beneficial. Some are not worth the investment required. So, the question for us as database experts is this: Which sources are worth having, and can that be proven?

What to Ask

The same criteria for assessing a digital or social data feed applies in bringing more traditional data elements into a marketing database. Those can be scored on a largely objective scale, giving us the ability to compare data sources fairly and to set a benchmark for those worthy of inclusion in the central marketing database (CMD).

A typical data scorecard might include the following questions.

1. Is there a unique identifier (such as an email address or phone number) that can be used to match the new data source with the main marketing database?

Score on a range from 0 (exact match possible where that field is populated) to 5 (exact no unique identifier available).

2. Can a unique ID be created using available information?

Score from 0 (yes, easily and with existing resource) to 5 (no).

3. Can a unique ID be created using information not currently available?

Score from 0 (yes, easily and with existing resource) to 5 (only at great cost).

4. How many of the customers and prospects in the CMD (central marketing database) are likely to be found within this feed?

Score from 0 (100% match) to 5 (0% match).

5. Do you have the ability to communicate back to the individuals within the new feed?

Score from 0 (yes, easily and with existing resource) to 5 (only at great cost or no).

6. Assess internally the financial benefit likely to result from integrating the data source.

Score from 0 (10% or greater increase in revenue) to 5 (no measurable increase in revenue).

The total score from 0 to 30 gives an indication of the value the data will bring to the CMD. The lower the score, the lower the cost associated with the data and the higher the ROI likely to result from the integration. A score of 15 or above would indicate that the data has marginal value and careful consideration should take place before valuable budget is spent in this area.

* * *

The growing focus on investing in all marketing forms is slicing marketing budgets ever more thinly.

To assess the usefulness and ROI of emerging marketing methods, data is required, and it must be integrated into a traditional marketing and analysis platform. There's the rub: The investment required to do so can be great, and the benefits are thus far unmeasured.

Before undertaking any data integration project, each feed must be assessed objectively with stringent criteria, adapted from those described here, to ensure that some ROI will be gained.

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Is Your Data Any Good? Six Questions to Help Score Your Data Resources

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image of Simon Oliver

Simon Oliver is managing director of Uncommon Knowledge.

LinkedIn: Simon Oliver

Twitter: @Data_Wizardy