Big data is all around us - whether or not that fact occurs to us on a daily basis. Well, for all of you marketers out there, it surely does. Data has become one of the most important indicators of the success or failure of a marketing strategy. You rely on the insights derived from that data, and your clients do, too.
So, in order to always have actionable information at hand, you need to handle your data in a timely manner, and with no error whatsoever. The key you’re looking for is data harmonisation.
Big data. Big questions.
There’s no doubt that, nowadays, marketing data flows in from a number of different sources. There’s a little bit (or perhaps a lot) of everything: from point-of-sale to market research and social media campaign data, just to name a few. It’s being generated on an ongoing basis, too.
So, how do you decide which sources to trust? And how do you manage all of them to make sure your data has been analysed in its entirety? The key is in unifying them and creating one standard for all.
I know this from personal experience: waiting for the data to load into your analytics tool is a real pain. It's almost as bad as waiting for your lunch to be ready while staring at the timer of your microwave. What's even worse? Software crashes because of loading errors or too large data sets. No need to highlight the importance of clean data sets, that only contain the information you really need. But how?
Is real-time fast enough?
Marketing data is not only big, messy, and scattered, it’s also siloed. Using various tools and technologies to collect and analyse it is bound to leave you with a number of inherently different data streams. Just think of a timestamp: It, alone, could be written up in so many different ways. Add location coordinates, customer names, device IDs, seller URLs, languages and currencies to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a full-time data-formatting job.
And yet, you work in a fast-paced environment. You don’t have any time to waste. The data that flows it needs to be cleaned, structured and prepared for your analysis in little to no time. The report you promised to be delivered by the end of the day? Well, you better have the right data at hand. Creating the reports for your Christmas campaign quickly within your Business Intelligence software is hard when you are working with the largest datasets ever. This is not the future Santa wanted for us, right?
Work with the data you need
This is where data harmonisation comes into play. Put simply, data harmonisation is about creating one consistent data stream. It’s where all of your big and messy data is stripped of its various formats and brought down to one unified whole. Your single source of truth, if you will.
With data harmonisation, you’re able to detect possible discrepancies in your data and have an integrated overview of it at any time. That’s clean, ready-to-use data, with no blanks for you to fill in.
Most of our clients get their marketing data through various APIs. Imagine an API is modified - and they often do: from changing naming conventions to adding or removing entire metrics, this is a constant optimisation process by many publishers. A harmonisation process will take care of this change for you. You wouldn’t even know it happened. You’d still have all your data in one place, for all relevant team members to use. It’s your key to timely decision-making based on facts and meaningful insights.
So, in order to keep your house clean, keep those four things in mind:
- Keep your data structured and harmonised otherwise you will have look at your data stream separately
- Publishers and platforms keep changing their APIs and the data they serve
- Avoid large data sets by removing the data you don’t need for your marketing goals
- Voilá. As a data-driven marketer, you have the data you need to get the right insights from your activities.