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Your Data is Talking: Are You Listening?

Why We Can’t Sit Back and Must Action on the Facts

Hot off the heels of Salesforce’s announcement of the acquisition of Tableau, and only a year after their acquisition of Datorama, data was at the forefront of marketer minds and conversations at Connections 2019.

Data has been the most talked about topics of the last few years, both in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. And for good reason. Data is at the foundation of everything we do. Organizations—whether focused on social, environmental or other causes—come into their very existence because of data.

But as the data related to the problem we are trying to solve evolve, so must our organizations. As data is gathered and analyzed, organizations must get smarter and more adept at tackling the problem before them. With so many communication channels at our fingertips, new data is being generated at an exponential rate. So how can we harness the power of all this data and turn it into something meaningful?

Data 101: We can’t exist or evolve without it

When we have questions, the data has the answers. But as Sarah Lindsell, CEO of the Brain Tumour Charity, alluded to at Connections 2019 much of this data remains unleveraged in the nonprofit industry. She asked why the same advancements weren’t being made in the healthcare industry as in the retail sector, and why brain tumour patients are receiving the same treatment today as 20 years ago, even though what we know about patients, treatment and the disease has increased tenfold

Data not only allows us to track how well we’re doing, but it also tells us what we should be doing. Tracking organizational data can highlight inefficiencies, increase reporting transparency and drive more intentional decision-making internally. Data also highlights the most pressing problems of today, and where past programs have either been effective or fallen short. Empowered with this knowledge, data compels us to spend time on activities that have the most impact.

Data was the keystone of Connections 2019 as seen with this Salesforce Customer 360 banner. Customer 360 promises to help teams discover new insights and deliver one-to-one engagements

You have data but is it “clean” and useful?

At Connections 2019, we saw organizations such as the Sierra Club, the ADL and the Brain Tumour Charity all leveraging constituent data in innovative ways and using Salesforce Marketing Cloud to change the game on how they approach their mission. When an environmental bill is up for vote by politicians, or our human rights are threatened, or our health is on the line—how do you get the critical message out to constituents through a channel they will actually see or respond to?

As unglamourous as it may be, the first step towards unlocking the power of your organization is to start with clean data. Any structure is only as good as the foundation it is built on, and mission-driven organizations are no exception. By creating a data-driven culture, your approach to tackling problems will become more intentional, methodical and effective.

What do I mean by a “data-driven culture”? In a successful organization, there is an emphasis on data gathering with employees understanding the importance of complete, clean data on all constituents. Everything is recorded and recorded correctly, and data sets are regularly updated. The data has visibility within the organization and is leveraged in all decision-making processes. Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau plays into this, as system users can leverage the platform’s powerful analytics capabilities and create dynamic visual representations from the data. Seeing your data come to life in meaningful ways, and leveraging tools to provide insight into how you can action on this information, is crucial to building a culture of data.

The future of data is Salesforce Customer 360

Clean data is not the only challenge facing organizations. Eric Stahl, Vice President of Product Marketing at Salesforce noted during his keynote that marketers have an average of 15 different data sources. Not only do these silos present challenges around visibility, but they raise further concerns about quality. Various versions of the same constituent may very well live in several different systems—each one with a small piece of the puzzle. This prevents the data from being used in a meaningful way, and you may run into some larger problems, such as sending the wrong information to constituents or missing crucial opportunities to engage high-value constituents.

Salesforce is addressing the challenge of unified data head-on with their new Customer 360, which they expanded on at Connections. This will provide organizations with a single, unified source of truth, allowing all data sources to be connected. Organizations will be able to create meaningful, consistent audience segments and tailor communication to each of these segments accordingly.

Lean on your data like your organization depends on it

The answers we are looking for often lie in the data. And with so much out there, it is more important than ever that we are able to cut through the noise and unlock the clear messages hiding within. Salesforce’s recent acquisitions and innovations certainly make it clear they are investing heavily in empowering organizations with the tools to generate, protect, unify and action on data in order to excel and maximize impact in the digital age.

Connections has inspired me to really think about how I can use data in innovative ways in my daily work as a business development manager at Traction on Demand. If you’d like to get deeper on how you can leverage the data at your organization, start by reading our Data & Analytics page and get in touch. We’d love to support you in driving your mission forwards.

laura harries traction on demand

Written by Laura Harries, Business Development Manager at Traction on Demand.

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