There's been a major push for marketers in the last few years to gather as much data as they can about their leads and customers. This effort has been supported with - even exacerbated by - all kinds of new technology, software, and applications to make data-gathering easier.
But the question is: What good is all that data if you don't actually do anything with it?
Have We Become Data Junkies?
Just a few short years ago, the best we could hope for with our landing pages was to be able to gather a lead's name, email, and phone number. But now we can get more information, and without even asking for it. We can find out where they live, where they work, and their companies' revenues.
But too many marketers aren't putting all this valuable data to good use. According to Accenture's Industrial Internet Insights Report for 2015, 13% of companies say they're challenged with consolidating disparate data and being able to use the resulting data store. In other words, they have more data than they know what to do with.
How can we put the information we have to better use?
As it is with so many things, the solution is achieved by focusing on quality over quantity. Just because your brand can glean 1,025 data points on new leads doesn't mean it should. Instead, hold a joint meeting with sales and marketing and decide which data points are the most useful, and cull the rest.
For example, if you sell B2B software solutions, it's probably helpful to know a lead's job title, but how long he's been in that role might not matter. Your team might decide that company industry, job title, and lead score are the primary elements you need for a successful marketing campaign. Trash the rest.
Another solution is to use those carefully chosen data points to take smarter actions in your marketing and sales. If you can see which of your whitepapers a lead has downloaded, you can create customized automated emails for her that nudge her in the direction she's already going. You can send social media updates with articles of interest. You can take what you already know about a lead's interests - as well as her position in the buying lifecycle - and cater to that.
The long answer to "Is there such a thing as too much data?" is yes. There is. You have to know exactly what you care about and maximize it so you make smarter decisions about marketing to your demographic. Don't be drawn by all the pretty, shiny data. It'll soon be tarnished if you let it pile up and don't use it for the greater good of your company.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a content marketing & social media firm. She's written three business books, and blogs about small business on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.