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Top 12 Infrequently Asked Questions About Data

  • Jed Mole

    Jed Mole

Created at August 24th, 2017

Top 12 Infrequently Asked Questions About Data

Marketing has become increasingly data-driven. Yet, despite data’s strategic value, many marketers struggle to develop a clear, defined data strategy.

Commonly, where many marketers are considering data in terms of individual campaigns, teams and channels; focusing on metrics like open rates or CPC, they should instead be thinking about the bigger picture.

What’s needed is for teams to develop a central, overarching marketing data strategy that cuts across tactical silos to continuously improve the customer view. Of course metrics like CPC still matter. But considering the bigger picture matters more.

To develop this more considered strategy, you need to start asking more considered questions. The points below detail twelve important, but infrequently considered questions that must be asked if you are to develop an effective, compliant marketing data strategy.

12 Data Questions You Should Be Asking

1. What marketing data do I have?

This may sound like a simple question. But in practice, many marketing leaders don’t know what data all their different teams are using, what channels they’re using, who can access, analyse and create data and more. But unless you have that insight, it’s hard to get perspective on what opportunities you may have.

2. What data do I need to buy or source?

What data do you already have? What do you want to use it for? For example, if you’d like to personalise your next email campaign you can have information (such as location) appended to your records by a third-party provider. Or, if you want to segment your contacts according to how they interacted with your last online campaign, you can onboard your CRM data and tie it to your campaign results using a privacy-safe, third-party intermediary.

3. Can I trust my CRM data?

Data integrity changes constantly as people change address, get married etc. You must proactively monitor and improve CRM data to keep it trustworthy.


The reliability of your data depends on a few things such as:

  • How old each record is
  • How often you update or clean your data
  • How strictly your data management policies are adhered to
  • How well you can resolve identities and remove duplicates


If your CRM data is left unchecked, reliability can quickly run out of hand. Make sure you speak to the marketers who are actually using your data in campaigns to find if they really trust it.

4. Can I monetise my data?

Yes, as long as it is monetised in a privacy-compliant way. Partnering with an appropriate intermediary to ensure compliance opens a world of possibilities.

For example, many airlines monetise by sharing data—such as a list of frequent business-class flyers—with upmarket hotels situated close to relevant airports. The hotel receives an anonymised list of digital identities (hashes) they can use to target in their online campaigns, and the airline gets double value from their data.

5. What data privacy regulations, if any, do I need to be aware of?

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will standardise data protection regulation for all EU member states (and those marketing to them) from May 2018. This will replace the Data Protection Act 1998, and is designed to standardise and assimilate data protection regulations for all EU member states.

6. What can I do with my data?

What you can do with your data depends on how it was collected and why. Is it first-party, second-party or third-party data? Be aware that you can’t treat all data the same – the type determines the terms that come with it:


  • For example, First-party data is a brand’s own data, usually personally identifiable information that customers provided directly, such as via a web form. You must be clear about how data will be used when collecting it from your customers.
  • Second-party data is another company’s first-party data, provided via a partnership agreement or a trusted third party. It would be dangerous here to assume the other brand’s data terms were the same as your own, so make sure the company you purchased the data from was clear on how it planned to use that data when it was collected.
  • Finally, third-party data is data that a company has collected and curated, to share with brands and agencies to develop their database. With third-party data, you must make sure your data provider is clear on what you can/can’t do with it’s data.


7. What is meant by online and offline data?

Offline data is data that has been collected offline, stored in applications like your CRM and point-of-sale systems. Contact data, purchase history, demographics, loyalty points, complaints are all examples of offline data – data that you’ve either collected yourself or acquired through second- or third-party data-sharing arrangements.

Online or digital data however is all data collected through your online campaigns across all platforms such as email, Google, any social networks.

8. Is there value in linking online and offline data?

Yes, this increases the value of all your data! Linking means you can find out if campaigns led to real sales by real people, even if they happened offline.

For example, you can ‘enable’ first-party data by onboarding it, which matches PII to previously anonymous online behaviour; transforming your attribution and measurement abilities and closing the loop between digital campaigns and offline transactions.

9. How do I do measurement and attribution when targeting people through channels I don’t own?

If you use an intermediary to anonymise interaction and transaction data (from channels that aren’t your own) you can tie all your data back to real people in a privacy-compliant way to get the insight you need.

10. Can I tie my digital campaign results back to my CRM data?

Yes, but you’ll need an intermediary to anonymise data. Digital platforms won’t reveal exactly who interacted with your campaigns, but with a privacy-safe link between you and them, you can get the right results. (Identity Resolution).

11. How can I use my customer data to find more people like my best customers?

If your first-party data is accurate and of a good quality, and you have enough of it, you can use a third party data company to identify relevant prospects who are similar to your current customers. This is called lookalike modelling and is useful if you do high volumes of outbound marketing.

12. Does my campaign plan match reality?

Does the audience you talk about match the audience you target? Onboard your CRM data and use an intermediary to connect it to your channels in a privacy-safe way. This closes the persona-action gap and means you can use your existing customer data to inform online campaign targeting, and ensure cross-channel consistency.

Ask the Right Questions to Develop the Right Strategy

Today’s most successful data-driven marketers are always asking questions to help them test, learn, measure, refine, and improve their strategies.

Of course, the rapid rise of new channels and tactics in digital marketing meant that most marketing leaders have only had time to think about data one channel at a time. The result is a disconnected collection of smart tactics and people.

But, what’s need is one marketing data strategy that cuts across all your channels and campaigns. Do this, and you’ll reach more real people, see your campaigns tie back to common goals and find your marketers know what data they have as well as what they’re missing.


Read more about infrequently asked questions about data here, and learn how to enhance and align your strategies