Every B2B company has data. It can be customer data, their purchases, or engagement with your offering — no matter your business type. And as your business evolves or scales, your data will grow. So the ability to manage a vast amount of data points is crucial to your company's success.
Even though data is shared and abundant, you can't improvise with your data. A data strategy doesn't just happen — you need to work at it and constantly optimise it. No matter the size of your company, you will need a data strategy.
Let's look into some general concepts to learn and consider before creating your company's data strategy.
What a data strategy is
Your data strategy must create a comprehensive and holistic vision of the data within your company. It shall combine the critical components of data lifecycle management — collection, storage, maintenance, usage, and cleaning — and create an integrated approach across all touchpoints, apps and teams. This will help you maintain accurate, relevant, and consistent data everywhere.
One data strategy sub-section is data governance, which helps your company safeguard your data from inconsistency and inaccuracy.
When you must have a data strategy
You should create a data strategy as soon as possible and revisit it periodically, especially when you add new applications to your organisation. However, if you don't have a data strategy, now is the time.
With an explicit strategy for data management, you will be able to optimise performance throughout your company. A data strategy helps you to maintain:
Accurate and reliable data
Ethical data usage that sticks to data protection rules and regulations
One version of your data that is possible to sync between all apps and features
Actionable and relevant reports to influence business decisions
Your data strategy will help your organisation carry out their work effectively, with a transparent view of performances, enabling team managers to make quick and relevant decisions to harness opportunities and overcome risks.
Data strategy components
There are several vital elements of your data strategy. When you have a plan for them, you put your company in the best position to manage and optimise your data at every stage of its lifecycle.
You can use these components as your framework for your data strategy, data:
How you decide to collect your data determines everything that follows, making it an essential component to getting right early on. As the data lifecycle progresses, it's vital to guarantee secure storage and maintenance to uphold data integrity and a robust data governance approach.
It's always a good practice to integrate data between your apps to create a single source of truth between them.
Once data is no longer accurate or valuable, it should usually be purged or cleaned. This will stop the data from affecting the overall quality of your database or corrupting other data.
By optimising these components, you are in the position to put your data to practice, e.g., to implement data reporting.
The questions to answer in your data strategy
A data approach should make it straightforward for your company to collect, maintain, and use high-quality data by design. Then, as your operations tick along, you can trust that your processes are taking the best care of your data.
Creating a data strategy takes time, but it will simplify everything that follows and will save you time and money long term. So regardless of your industry and the size of your business, it's worth the effort and the occasional maintenance needed.
Create a solid data approach, and a data strategy consists of answering, e.g., the following questions, which most companies can create a basic framework for.
Which data is valuable?
A data strategy starts by identifying the valuable data for your company. This determines what's worth collecting in your forms and other data collection touchpoints.
You could start by looking at below suggested general data types and drill into more detail for each one:
Social media data
Is the data high-quality?
Even when you know the data you want to collect, you must ensure high-quality data. Dirty or unwanted CRM data is more unhelpful than valuable.
Quality data is relevant, accurate, complete, consistent, accessible, and timely. Having quality data results in quality information that can contribute to data-driven decisions.
How should we store the data securely?
An organisation's steps to secure, analyse and manage its customer data come under its data governance strategy, which can be part of your overall data strategy—one key factor in choosing an adequate data storage solution.
How can we maintain a single source of truth?
Making sure your data is aligned between apps requires data synchronisation. Data synchronisation will connect the dots between your apps and features— from your CRM to your automation software to your accounting system — and it communicates any data changes. So that you know you're always looking at the latest data with real-time updates.
How to remove low-quality and outdated data
Low-quality data includes corrupted, incorrect, or expired data. To keep it out of your database, you should determine:
What insufficient data looks like to your company
How you can and will identify it with automation
How and when you will remove your insufficient data
For example, you might create an automated list in your CRM populated with contacts with bounced email addresses. Then, you can review this list every month and purge the contacts you're sure you don't need. For instance
As an essential part of your data purging plan, you must decide how you will deal with, e.g., communication opt-outs and the process for removing a contact's data if they request.
How can we make sure that we follow data protection rules and regulations?
Data protection is very relevant for every stage of the data lifecycle. For your company to be compliant, it must be secured by design. You should set off in the right direction by following the other essential steps described above and below. Deciding on your GDPR compliance software and reading up on best practices will help you tick more of the needed boxes.
How should we actually use the data?
Companies store data for one reason: to turn it into information. Data becomes valuable information when it is processed, interpreted, and organised. You can then use the information to populate insightful reporting, inform business decisions, and deliver optimised customer experiences.
Now's the time for you to get started
It's never too late to start implementing data practices. Start getting clarity around how your organisation collects, maintains, and uses data. Then, set the processes in motion to optimise it from the ground up.
For more insights into how to work with your CRM, check out our in-depth guide on the topic. If your company needs to get its data in order, and if you're interested in actually getting something out of the data that's filling your CRM, feel free to book a meeting with me and we can discuss it further.
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about what and how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B. Asks a lot of questions, and knows what to do with the answers.