For event and exhibition organizers, customer relationship management (CRM) software is supposed to streamline processes and allow sales people to focus on selling and providing excellent customer service. At least, that’s the theory.
The truth is that most companies nowadays have major issues managing their data. “Bad data” comes from all kind of sources (manual data entry errors, imports of shoddy marketing lists, etc.). If the quality of your data is average or poor, it will cost your business money. But with the right data cleaning strategy, you will be able get the “good data” that your marketing and sales teams need.
Mark Pritchard, senior consultant at Ungerboeck, recently led a great webinar on strategic data management to guide us through best practices of cleaning up “big data.” Here are a few highlights.
2 + 2 = your event data management strategy equation for success
Cleaning up data consists of 2 main steps plus 2 maintenance and monitoring steps:
- Data auditing: Get an overview on how bad the quality of your data actually is and the direct consequences that are associated with this (loss of time, etc.). You will also have to define the level of data quality that is required for your organization to work as well as which data is getting outdated and when. For instance, the address of a company is data that is valid for a longer period of time, whereas an email address or a phone number is going to be outdated faster.
- Clean up: Review all the fields that are in use. This includes organizing workshops with the users to evaluate the relevance of each field and if it needs to be kept, if it can be merged with another one, etc. Ask questions like: How many people use this field, and how many times per year? Remove data that is not required and merge data that is duplicated. Data output such as reports should also be reviewed during this process. If you have multiple systems or databases in use, you will have to review those as well and agree on the “single point of truth” (master) system.
- Enforcing best practices: Deciding on how to maintain a clean database in the future is another important step in your data management strategy. Did you communicate to the users how data should be entered? Did you document how data should be entered? The best CRM software cannot work independent of guidelines, so you need to make sure that the system users input the data that is required in a manner that is consistent. User training and re-training are crucial factors in maintaining good data quality.
- Monitoring data quality: And last but certainly not least, do not forget to monitor the quality of the data on an ongoing basis. Document monitoring practices, and set a schedule for monitoring so it is not overlooked.
The initial auditing and clean up may seem like considerably large and daunting steps. However, if you plan your data management strategy well, this will only happen once and you will be able to keep your focus on maintenance and monitoring, which are considerably small steps in comparison.
5 final points about an event data management strategy
To summarize what Pritchard discussed in the strategic data management webinar, here are 5 key takeaways:
- Set achievable goals around cleaning and maintaining your data
- Involve your key stakeholders in your decisions concerning strategic data management…don’t make decisions in isolation
- Do not forget that good data quality needs maintenance so documentation, training and re-training of users is a must
- The more databases, the more complex it gets, so look to consolidate into one centrally managed database
- Consider implementing a CRM system that is purpose built for the events industry
Watch the full recording for more tips and details: Webinar: Strategic data management – How to design and maintain your exhibitor and visitor databases. And for even more information, download the following whitepaper: Why ‘one-size-fits-all CRM’ doesn’t work for event organizers.