Here’s the second article as part of our expert series with Ellen Valentine, Martech expert and Managing Partner of Marketing Action Network.

Most marketers today rely on dozens (with some using hundreds!) of different solutions to present our value propositions, contact our prospects, manage sales funnels, engage over social channels and more. In nearly every company, these solutions have been installed separately, with each application creating and building its own set of data. The explosion of marketing data resulting from the build-out of our tech stacks was the focus of a previous blog post.

Here, we’ll take a step further in the journey to focus on the goldmine of marketing data and how we as marketers can ensure that we have access to all that information, to fuel marketing decisions and our marketing automation.

What’s Missing: The Complete Picture

What’s really missing is a comprehensive view of every prospect and customer, a view only provided when we are able to access all of our relevant data.  As marketers, if we don’t have the complete picture of engagement across all channels for each individual, we run the risk of inappropriate communication and “turned off” or unsubscribed prospects. And we all work too hard to have that happen.

For example, if we send an email to a prospect, we might be tempted to resend that same email again a few days later (sending another message to all those who did not open the first email).  But if you had connected data, you could see that Prospect A engaged with your social team on a recent Instagram post. Only then would you realize that sending another email message would be too much too soon.

Connecting data from application sources including social (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter), marketing automation (Marketo, Hubspot), CRM (Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, Oracle) , e-Commerce (Shopify, WooCommerce, PayPal, Square), survey data (Survey Monkey), and website (Google Analytics) data must be among the highest-level priorities for the marketing department. Once you’ve connected the data sources, many of these applications as well as your analytics applications (Tableau, Power BI, Qlik) will have the information that completes the picture of your customer and prospect activity. Having this 360-degree view of all marketing data for each individual will allow you to be a responsible, in-touch marketer who can deploy the right tactics at the right time to the right people.

Making the Case for Connected Data

Once you’ve conducted an inventory of the data that your marketing applications are creating, you can then build your use cases for connected data and explore the possibilities of what can be accomplished. Once you’ve got a complete picture of your prospects and customers, you need to decide the best approach to accomplish your connected data goals.

Connected Data Approaches

Embarking on a connected data project mostly (though not always) requires partnership with IT. One of your primary goals with this initiative is to eliminate one-off, hand-coded integrations that will only break or go obsolete as various applications are updated and upgraded. Even using the vendor-provided APIs will still mean that you will be fully exposed to obsolescence challenges.

In order to take a more comprehensive approach, you need to consider industrial strength drivers to accomplish your objectives. One option is to consider commercially available connectors (aka, drivers) or contract with a company that specializes in building and maintaining connectors. Depending on your needs, Simba has a solution that suits.

Another solution, however, is to go beyond individual connectors (e.g., a connector specifically for bringing Marketo data into Tableau) and consider integrated connectivity and data integration platform. This will provide you with a single place from which to source, install and manage all connectors you need today … and at a later date. This holistic platform solution is far easier for IT to set up and maintain and can be far simpler to adapt as your marketing stack changes.

A connectivity management platform will get IT out of the last-minute patching and repair projects they really don’t like doing. And it will allow you, the marketer, to be much more strategic about assessing how you want to use data for a highly informed, highly targeted messaging strategy for customers and prospects.

Build your own Connected Data Game Plan

Read more about our take on key industry trends impacting data and the benefits of a comprehensive data strategy in our new eBook, Better Together: The Power of Connected Data.  Embedded in the guide are Ten Pro Tips to help you better assess your situation in your journey to build your own Connected Data game plan.