• Data is the fuel for your marketing engine that can turbocharge your demand creation efforts
  • New data privacy legislation is in effect in the EU, and organizations need to adapt quickly
  • Revisit data requirements with internal stakeholders to manage the right data in the right way

London. Amsterdam. Seattle. Three terrific cities where we recently held forums on data-driven marketing – and had some VERY lively discussions.

Managing your data is becoming a critical piece of enabling the marketing machine, but what does it really take to govern that data in ways that are both scalable and practical? How do you avoid creating some ethereal governance council that has big ideas but no teeth? And what the heck is going on in EMEA (besides Brexit)?

These were just some of the topics and key takeaways from our passionate conversations at the forums:

Do You Know the Acronym GDPR? You’d Better.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It’s the new EU legislation that just went into effect, and organizations have until May 25, 2018, to comply. Think that sounds like a long time? Think again. In a nutshell, organizations need to be much more disciplined about gaining unambiguous consent from citizens of the EU when it comes to capturing and storing their personally identifiable information (PII). Other fun items include:

  • It doesn’t matter where the data is stored – if it’s data related to EU citizens, it counts
  • You can’t bury the consent in a tome of Terms and Conditions
  • Individuals have what’s known as the Right to Erasure – the right to request that their PII data be swept clean in all your systems. You’ll need to be able to not only execute this request, but document that you have the process in place to do so (gulp)

Oh, and the penalties? A Level 1 penalty is €10 million, or 2 percent of worldwide revenue; a Level 2 penalty is €20 million, or a whopping 4 percent of worldwide revenue. Think about what that would mean for your organization. Not insignificant.

Many organizations, especially U.S.-based ones, have a blind spot for this regulation right now, but they can’t afford to ignore it. Get started by reading what my colleague Julian Archer had to say about preparing to transform your organization for this change.

[Internal] Customers Are Paramount

As a former marketing operations practitioner, I admit that most of the time I presumed to know what was important to my internal customers (i.e. the consumers of the data I managed) rather than asking them directly. In my defense, this mode of operation isn’t uncommon. I talked to demand managers every day. We had good relationships. If they had problems, they generally told me. Besides, I couldn’t go running to them with every little nuanced question like whether they preferred “US” vs. “USA” for a country code, could I? For the sake of expediency, I needed to make some executive decisions.

But from our discussions in Europe and Seattle, it’s clear that most of us could stand to do a reset on data requirements with all our stakeholders: the demand team, but also sales – tele and field – IT, product, legal and our own marketing ops analysts. It also means asking specific questions: You want accounts, but at what level – global, country parent or site? You want a phone number, but do you need a direct dial, or will the main number do? Do you need an additional field for “phone number” so that you have a place to put one that won’t get overwritten during the nightly synching routine?

Revisiting these requirements ensures that you’re managing the right data and doing so properly, and builds goodwill between marketing ops and data consumers.

Land and Expand

There was a lot of nodding, sighing and troubled laughter in all three cities when we lamented the massive, monolith marketing data management committees we had all been volunteered for over the years. Spoiler alert: Very few of these committees produced anything tangible for the organization, and most collapsed under their own weight just months after their formation.

So how do we avoid this? Start small and expand, of course. Pick a part of the business where you think you can have success applying data governance, and where data issues are manifesting themselves in particularly thorny ways for marketing. Segmentation, personalization and lead routing are pretty good candidates if you need help with where to look. After you work the kinks out, you can start applying the policies to other areas of the business, and then continue to iterate. In short, resist the urge to hunker down in the basement for months while you develop the unified theory of master data management. Start small with specific use cases, and build from there.

But I’m curious – where have you seen effective intersections of data and marketing? What areas does better data help more than others, and what sorts of practical governance policies have worked for you?