As the volume and complexity of customer data continue to grow, data hygiene and management are becoming critical concerns for marketers. Consolidating, analyzing, and acting on insights from customer data is at the heart of modern marketing-it provides the holistic customer view that makes marketing more relevant for consumers and more effective for brands. To help marketers get a handle on their data cleaning and management strategy, we asked Social Magnets CEO Ross Quintana to share his best practices and policies. As a “marketing futurist” and data-driven social growth expert for major brands and prominent executives, he brings a unique perspective to the topic. Who Owns Data Management? Data management, including governance and hygiene, shouldn’t be a “hot potato” responsibility pawned off on IT. “Everyone's part in an organization is likely driven by data, so the need to manage and strategize has expanded greatly,” says Ross. “Data management strategy should involve everyone collecting, using, and managing the data.” However, the increasingly data-driven nature of marketing means that its leaders should play a major role in its management, both for their expertise and because the marketing function is so critical to business operations. “Successful campaigns and accountability for ROI are driving forces behind organizational success,” Ross points out. “For this reason, marketing cannot afford to not be heavily involved in the data management strategy that ultimately fuels their success or failure.” A more inclusive view of data management also supports an ecosystem of insights and action that benefits every part of the enterprise. “Data ownership silos will continue to be broken down as organizational agility and capability continue to be driving factors in business growth and success,” says Ross. Data Hygiene as a Foundational Practice. As data accounts for an ever-larger piece of the marketing pie, data hygiene becomes more critical. The impact of dirty data-data that is inaccurate, incomplete, or even fraudulent-can be significant. When dirty data forms the basis of analysis, the findings can drive marketers to waste time and resources on efforts that miss the mark. “Bad data hygiene is estimated to cost companies trillions of dollars, so it isn't a small matter,” says Ross. “The data is upstream and affects all parts of revenue generation, from sales to marketing and then beyond in finance and HR. Getting the data clean is the key foundation for holistic business success.” Data cleaning begins with an audit-but it shouldn’t be just about making sure information is accurately recorded. A data hygiene audit “means knowing your entry points for all the data you are collecting and the context of that data entry,” says Ross. Context involves taking a closer look at how it’s collected and when. For example, he says, “If you are asking for data that people don't want to give at that touchpoint, they may give false information.” Knowing what’s being asked of customers and tweaking it accordingly-asking for the right data at each step of the customer journey-can help prevent dirty data from being collected in the first place. In addition, a data hygiene protocol ensures that cleaning is incorporated into normal operations instead of treated as an add-on, last-minute task. Since manual cleaning is time-consuming and cumbersome and prone to human error, Ross says automation is essential. Technology tools are making implementing such processes much easier. “CDPs can help clean data by identifying duplicate, inaccurate, and outdated data,” says Ross. “Utilizing AI and machine learning to automate a process that would be almost impossible otherwise.” Better Marketing Through Data Management. Cleaner and more robust data lead to fewer dead ends and better customer segmentation and personas, enabling marketers to create more effective campaigns and messaging. As a result, marketers should think of data management as a key element of their efforts. “Marketers need to think holistically about their campaigns with a lens on data,” says Ross. “By taking a little time and integrating data and tagging best practices into your everyday operations, you can get more from every campaign as they feed better data into your systems.” Rather than analyzing data on an intermittent, campaign-by-campaign basis, this approach-especially with automation-makes data management an ongoing, constant function even when it’s running in the background. Marketers that look beyond individual campaigns and “play the long game of data-immersed marketing” are more likely to maximize the value of their data, says Ross. CDPs and the Data Ecosystem Ultimately, regular data hygiene and thoughtful data management are essential for businesses to keep their competitive edge in a constantly evolving marketing landscape. CDP-powered data management automates processes and drives insights that lead to more efficient customer targeting, more compelling messaging, and even new business models. “It really is a data ecosystem,” says Ross. And any ecosystem is best when it’s kept as pristine as possible. Learn how Treasure Data’s CDP can support a cohesive, automated data management program that improves and refines marketing efforts. Talk to a CDP expert. Ross Quintana is CEO, Analyst, Writer, Consultant for Social Magnets, and has been recognized as a BuzzSumo Top 100 Social Media Influencer. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.