How to Craft a Data Management Plan that Pays You Back

When it comes to wrangling and taming Big Data, a data management plan is a solid first step. But what exactly is it and what does it involve? More importantly, how can you create such a plan? In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how businesses large and small can create data management plans that are both smart and seamless.

The Old Problem: Silos

Silos were meant to help keep people focused on their respective tasks. Instead, they divide people, waste resources and hamper productivity. The very groups that need to be working together the most, namely sales and marketing, are shut off from each other which in turn stifles growth and innovation.

Instead, creating a more hub-and-spoke collaborative center, where each group feeds into and extracts relevant information from said Big Data, is where forward-thinking companies and organizations are headed.


Image Source: Compendian

Designate at least one person from each group to be the “representative” – and this applies to C-level executives too. These are going to be the people who essentially build and steer the Big Data ship. It’s easy to get lost in the sheer volume of information. Alongside these representatives, name people from each group who will oversee the various strategies to ensure that they’re continually on point and not being bogged down by minor details and technicalities.

Demonstrate What’s Possible


One of the biggest sticking points with Big Data is the question “how is this really relevant to us?” Realize that different pieces of the Big Data pie are going to matter to different groups and seeing how it all comes together is like a fantastic puzzle. There’s good stuff in the details, as well as the big picture.

At this point, however, it’s really easy to get caught up in the sheer volume of it all. But as with every good marketing strategy, you’ll need to ask yourself:

“What’s going to bring us the biggest lifts?”

And make those your priority. Then gradually trickle down through lesser and lesser priority pieces until the whole thing comes together.

Organization is Just as Important as Execution


Image Source: Forrester

At this point, ideas should be coming together from all the different representatives and groups you have working together. And it’s very likely that you’ll want to jump right in and start getting your hands dirty with all the data.  But take the time to figure out how you’ll be organizing that information first. If you don’t do this at the beginning, the data will start to accumulate like a snowball rolling downhill, and eventually it will bury everyone and everything in its path.

It’s also worth noting that your Data Management Plan needs to have security as its foremost priority. Kiki Burton, Senior Manager of Product Strategy at Adobe reiterates on her podcast just how crucial security is when you’re formulating such a plan. In her interview, she comments that:

“The ideal [Data Management Plans] has no personally identifiable information. In order to ensure that [it] really upholds those privacy standards, there are a variety of methods to import data in an appropriate way so that it’s all anonymous…It’s important to really call out that a [Data Management Platform] is not going to be your CRM platform, it’s not going to be your basis for all your customer information…instead, it’s going to pull specific data from there, but [it needs to] be done in a very anonymous way.”

The First Building Blocks of Your Data Management Strategy

Colourful wooden building blocks stacked in increasing height using individual colours as an educational toy for young children

With this in mind, Kiki further advises that companies interested in building such a strategy take an inventory of all of the first party data they have. First party data includes:

  • Social likes and shares
  • Data from mobile devices or apps
  • User subscription data
  • CRM data

There’s also the data collected by surveys, email marketing and other avenues – all just sitting there mostly untapped and unused. Once you have those points nailed down, then you can see about getting other information to round out your user profiles.

You may be surprised to learn what other departments in your newly cohesive group have as data. It may be something your own group never knew about or never thought to use. Here again, when we build these silos (more like giant walls) between departments, crucial information like this tends to fall through the cracks. So it’s as much an organizational mission as it is a learning experience.

Decide What Information You’re Going to Pull In

Now that you have all the data together, it’s time to decide what’s relevant. Here again, relevancy depends on your industry and what the end goal is. You could be selling an entirely digital product and be focused on subscriptions and sign ups.

Or you could be a retailer focused on in-store engagements like QR codes, co-branded credit cards and other promotional magnets. All of that information needs to be prioritized and put into the plan. This is what helps you build and “flesh out” your user personas without using any personally identifiable information.

Remember that as your users interact with your site across multiple types of media, multiple devices and different promotions, you’ll be gathering information as well as providing them with a branded experience. Data management goes well beyond advertising and seeps into every interaction your customer has with you – from email to shopping in-store, to upsells, down sells and cross-sells.

The Data Economy

The bottom line when it comes to creating the kind of system that pays you back is what Kiki calls the “data economy”. In her words, “it’s not just about buying data for advertising; it goes back to this larger, more cohesive personalization message and really having a platform where brands and publishers can exchange data and share data in an open marketplace.” Like it or not, the Data Economy is here to stay, and you’d better start crafting a plan now to help make sense of it. Fortunately, you’ve now got the starting points and a more concrete idea on what to draw upon to make it happen.

Have You Created Your Data Management Plan?

Have you built a data management plan using the strategies outlined here? How has it worked for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today! Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for more articles like this!


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