Data governance can simply be described as the set of rules for managing data in an organisation. Any business that makes use of customer data must have a data governance plan in place, and that extends to the marketing department.
Customer data is a precious resource, and so is your customers’ trust. By mismanaging customer data, marketers risk losing all the trust they’ve worked so hard to build. It can lead to devastating consequences if lost or exposed in a security breach, and poorly managed data will undermine any marketing efforts. So, it’s certainly worth giving data management the attention it deserves, and marketers should be fully aware of their share of the responsibilities.
What is data governance and why does it matter?
The term is broadly applied to what the Data Governance Institute (DGI) defines as a “system of decision rights and accountabilities” describing who can take action with what information, when, and using what methods. It encompasses data rules and definitions as well as the tools for data management, and it spans multiple departments from the top to the bottom of an organisation.
For marketers, data management is about treating customer data with due care. It not only protects the customers from malicious data thieves, but it also protects the business from risk since it would be legally liable in the event of a data breach. Around the world, data protection laws have gained teeth in recent years, like Europe’s GDPR and South Africa’s POPI Act, carrying heavy penalties for non-compliance.
A breach is also very embarrassing, and the reputational damage can be long-lasting and very expensive, especially in the world of finance or healthcare, where data is particularly sensitive and trust is all the more important.
Enforcing data hygiene
A marketer’s data governance responsibilities primarily revolve around ensuring proper data hygiene. This means ensuring that customer data is correctly classified, securely stored and that CRM and marketing automation platforms don’t become cluttered with data from custom, duplicate and open text fields, creating a messy (and potentially dangerous) bowl of “data spaghetti”. For this reason, data hygiene should always be top-of-mind when creating lead capture forms and other avenues for data collection.
The benefits of getting it right are multifaceted. For starters, data hygiene ensures better quality data which ultimately makes marketing more effective. Lead scoring and segmentation become more accurate, meaning marketers are better able to get the right sales message to the right audience, deliver personalisation in the sales process that improves the customer experience, and achieve a better return on investment from remarketing efforts.
It also reduces the likelihood of reputational harm and the loss of trust, makes it easier to remain legally compliant with local data protection laws, and limits the potential damage of a data breach. There are also performance benefits from an IT perspective and greater overall cost-effectiveness.
In short, keeping your data squeaky clean with sound data governance policies isn’t just a good idea, it’s a business imperative. For the marketing department, it’s becoming ever-more important in an increasingly data-driven, digital-first world. To see how we can help you get it right, take a look at the digital marketing solutions we offer.