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Data Quality and Marketing Automation Success

One prerequisite before signing the dotted line and purchasing a marketing automation system is making sure that your data quality is perfect.

But, generally that's not the order of how things actually go. You purchase the marketing automation platform (MAP), and then realize that you're stuck with something you can only use as a simple email execution tool, due to the quality of your data.

What's the big deal?

Leveraging a MAP to its fullest needs a good strategy, but just as importantly, good data. Imagine trying to use some of the functionality that the MAP provides, but you get stuck due to the quality of your data. Here are a few examples:

  • Lead scoring – You want to score everyone who has a title of CEO, but your 'Title' field contains CEO, C.E.O, Chief Exec, Chief Executive Officer.
  • Personalized emails – You’re sending out an email and want to use a merge field to thank customers for purchasing product ABC123, but your 'Product' field contains various values for that product name, including product codes, that mean nothing to the customer.
  • Targeting – You’re planning to email everyone who lives in New York, but your 'State' field contains NY, NYC, N.Y. and New York.

How to approach the problem

I suggest taking the following approach to get your MAP in a good place, from a data quality standpoint.


  • Define what you need: Using your marketing strategy, understand exactly what data you need to execute on campaigns, use in modules such as lead scoring, or inform reporting.
  • CRM system: If you have CRM integration in place, or plan to, make sure that you're taking into account the format of the fields in that system, and make sure the field values (standardized fields) and field types in your MAP and CRM match.
  • Data dictionary: Once you have the above complete, compile a data dictionary of all the fields, making sure to indicate which fields will be standardized (think State, Country, Title, etc.), and what field types they are.
  • Bring in what you need: Only bring data into your MAP system that you need for campaign execution and reporting.


  • Analyze sources: Look at the data that is coming into your MAP, and work out which sources are the ones sending you incomplete or dirty data (e.g., CRM, manual list loads, forms, other systems, such as webinar systems).
  • Fix at the source: Address the issue at the source. Does your form have an open text field for title, when it should be standardized? Does your CRM country list contain the full country values, but your MAP uses a two-character value for country?
  • Clean current data: When you've fixed the sources, remember to go back to your current data, and clean it up.
  • MAP tools: As a last resort, if for various reasons, you cannot fix the data at the source, use your MAP data manipulation tools to fix it.

Rinse and repeat

  • Don't fix and forget: On a scheduled basis, look at the most important fields you use in your marketing execution, and make sure dirty data in not creeping in.