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How to Prevent Discrepancies in Your Marketing Data

Data discrepancies arise when datasets that should match show inconsistencies across various platforms and systems. For example, your website analytics platform might show substantially higher conversion rates than your e-commerce platform.

Such discrepancies can significantly impact critical business decisions, potentially leading to strategic missteps and operational inefficiencies. If marketers allocate more funds to channels based on flawed conversion data, they might end up wasting resources.

To prevent situations like this, let's understand what data discrepancies are, what causes them, and how to effectively manage and minimize them.

What Is a Data Discrepancy?

A data discrepancy occurs when data that should be consistent across different platforms and systems shows inconsistencies. Data discrepancies can arise from various factors such as tracking errors, data integration issues, or differences in how platforms process and report data. For marketing teams, this can be particularly problematic. These inconsistencies can significantly impact marketing strategies, leading to poor budget allocation, inaccurate performance assessments, and missed opportunities.

The Cost of Data Discrepancies

Data discrepancies impose significant costs on organizations, which can be categorized into direct and indirect expenses.

Direct Costs

Inaccurate Budget Allocation

Brands often invest in marketing campaigns without validating the accuracy of the data used to develop their strategies. This leads to the compounding problem of sales and marketing targeting the wrong ICP, investing in ineffective channels, and wasting budgets.

All these factors combined cost companies millions. According to a study by IBM, bad data costs companies around $3.1 trillion annually, highlighting the substantial financial impact of poor data hygiene.

Increased Operational Costs

Resolving data discrepancies often requires significant time and resources. Marketing analysts may need to spend additional hours troubleshooting issues, conducting data audits, and implementing fixes. This not only diverts time and resources away from strategic activities but also increases operational costs. 

Indirect Costs

Poor Decision-Making

Data discrepancy can severely impact decision-making processes, leading to misguided strategies based on flawed insights, ultimately harming campaign effectiveness and business outcomes. 

Stats show that 40% of business objectives fail due to inaccurate data.

Reduced Campaign Performance

When data discrepancies are present, it becomes challenging to measure and optimize campaign performance accurately. Marketing teams may struggle to identify which channels and tactics are truly driving results, leading to suboptimal campaign execution and missed opportunities for improvement. 

Lost Credibility

When the accuracy of data is constantly in question, it undermines confidence in analytics and reporting, making it harder to justify marketing strategies and investments to senior management. The need for continuous data validation and correction also slows down the marketing team's ability to respond quickly to market changes. 

Compliance Risks

Inaccurate data can also lead to compliance issues, especially when reporting financial metrics or customer data. Marketing specialists must ensure data accuracy to comply with industry regulations and avoid potential legal and financial repercussions. 

By understanding and addressing the direct and indirect costs associated with data discrepancies, marketing teams can take proactive steps to ensure data accuracy and reliability, ultimately enhancing their ability to make data-driven decisions. But first, let’s understand what is causing discrepancy in data.

Understanding the Causes of Discrepancy in Data

To better resolve the issue of data discrepancies and prevent them from occurring, it is crucial to first understand their root causes. Identifying what leads to inconsistencies allows marketing teams to implement effective strategies to ensure data accuracy and reliability. 

Below, we explore some common causes of discrepancy in data that can impact marketing efforts.

1. Inconsistent Data Entry

Inconsistent data entry is a common cause of data discrepancy. This can occur when different team members use varied formats, abbreviations, or naming conventions when entering data into systems. For example, one person might enter "New York" while another enters "NY," leading to mismatches and inaccuracies in the data set.

2. Integration Issues

Integration issues between different marketing platforms can lead to data discrepancies. When data is pulled from multiple sources such as CRM systems, email marketing tools, and social media platforms, inconsistencies can arise if these systems do not communicate effectively or if data mappings are incorrect.

3. Timing Differences

Timing differences in data reporting can cause discrepancies. Different systems might update at different times, leading to variations in data snapshots. For instance, one platform might report daily, while another reports in real-time, causing temporary misalignments in metrics like campaign performance or sales figures.

4. Tracking Errors

Tracking errors occur when the tracking codes or tags used to collect data are incorrectly implemented. This can lead to missing or incomplete data. For example, if a UTM parameter is mistyped or a tracking pixel is not properly placed, the resulting data will not accurately reflect user interactions.

5. Data Processing Delays

Delays in data processing can cause discrepancies. If data is not processed and updated in a timely manner, reports generated from this data might be outdated. This lag can result in differences between the actual performance metrics and what is reported.

6. Platform-Specific Metrics

Different marketing platforms often use their own algorithms and methodologies to calculate metrics. For instance, Google Analytics and Facebook Ads may define and measure ‘engagement’ differently. These variations can lead to discrepancies when comparing data across platforms.

7. Human Error

Human error is an inevitable cause of discrepancy in data. Mistakes such as data entry errors, incorrect data handling, or misinterpretation of data can all lead to inconsistencies. Even with automated systems, human oversight is required to ensure data integrity.

8. Duplicate Data

Duplicate data entries can create discrepancies, especially when integrating data from multiple sources. For example, if the same customer is listed twice in a CRM due to a slightly different name or email address, it can skew analysis and reporting.

9. Changes in Data Definitions

Changes in how data is defined or categorized over time can also cause discrepancies. If a marketing team changes the definition of a "qualified lead" partway through a campaign, it can lead to inconsistencies in lead counts and conversion metrics.

Minimizing Data Discrepancy

To effectively reduce the impact and occurrence of data discrepancies, organizations can adopt a comprehensive approach that integrates both technology and stringent management practices.

1. Centralized Data Management 

Implementing a centralized data management system is crucial. This system acts as a single source of truth, ensuring that all data entries across platforms are consistent and up-to-date. It minimizes errors introduced through manual data handling and improves overall data integrity.

Improvado is a marketing analytics and data management platform.
A schematic representation of how Improvado ETL works

Pro tip: Use ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) tools to streamline the data collection and preparation processes. These tools automate the extraction of data from diverse sources, transform it into a consistent format, and load it into a centralized system for analysis. This automation significantly reduces the manual effort and the likelihood of error involved in data integration.

Improvado provides a solid data foundation for a cohesive marketing analytics framework. The platform aggregates data from 500+ marketing and sales platforms, CRMs, and offline sources, automatically prepares it for analysis, and securely loads it to a data warehouse or a BI tool of your choice. Improvado helps brands regain trust in their data and have access to real-time, actionable insights.

Book a demo call with Improvado. Employ an automated marketing intelligence and analytics platform spanning from data extraction to insight delivery.

2. Proactive Error Detection and Correction Mechanisms

Cerebro enhances operational efficiency with structured data governance.
Cerebro, AI-powered campaign management and data governance solution

Implementing technologies that provide real-time alerts for data anomalies and discrepancies allows for immediate corrective actions. Systems equipped with AI and machine learning can predict potential errors before they manifest, offering proactive solutions to maintain data accuracy.

Pro tip: Streamline the process by integrating automated data governance solution like Cerebro. Cerebro is an AI-powered campaign management and data governance solution that automatically validates the consistency of your data and alerts you of any anomalies and data discrepancies.

3. Clear Data Standards and Protocols

Establishing and enforcing clear data standards and protocols across all departments and regional marketing teams ensures uniformity in data entry, processing, and management. These standards should detail how data is to be handled, formatted, and stored, reducing ambiguity and the risk of discrepancies.

5. Regular Data Audits

Conducting regular audits is essential to detect and rectify discrepancies early. These audits help identify the root causes of data inconsistencies, whether they stem from human error, system faults, or integration issues. By regularly reviewing data, organizations can maintain high-quality standards and ensure accuracy.

Ensure Your Marketing Data Is Decision-Ready

Minimizing data discrepancy is not just about maintaining your data clean. It's about ensuring your data is decision-ready. 

For marketing teams, this means having complete trust in their data and being able to use any data asset at any moment to make informed decisions. Accurate, consistent data allows for effective strategy formulation, precise targeting, and efficient resource allocation. 

Improvado serves as the foundation of this decision-readiness by providing a robust platform that automates data integration, validation, and reporting, ensuring that your marketing data is always accurate, up-to-date, and ready for action. This empowers marketing teams to confidently leverage their data for optimized performance and better business outcomes.

Schedule a demo call with Improvado to get access to timely and accurate performance insights.

Frequently Asked Questions  

What is a data discrepancy?

A data discrepancy occurs when datasets that should be consistent and aligned show differences or inconsistencies across various platforms or systems. For marketing teams, this can mean discrepancies between data reported by different marketing tools, such as CRM systems, email marketing platforms, and web analytics tools. These inconsistencies can lead to inaccurate reporting, misinformed decisions, and ineffective marketing strategies.

How can data discrepancies affect a business?

Data discrepancies can significantly impact a business by leading to misinformed decisions, inefficient resource allocation, and decreased campaign performance. When marketing teams rely on inconsistent data, they may incorrectly assess the effectiveness of their strategies, resulting in wasted budget on underperforming channels. Additionally, frequent data discrepancies can increase operational costs as teams spend extra time identifying and correcting errors.

What is causing the data discrepancy?

Data discrepancies can be caused by various factors including inconsistent data entry, integration issues between different marketing platforms, and timing differences in data updates. For example, different systems may use varied formats or naming conventions, leading to mismatched data. Integration issues can arise when data from CRM systems, email marketing tools, and web analytics platforms do not align properly.

How to handle data discrepancy?

To handle data discrepancies, establish a solid data foundation. Use robust data management tools like Improvado that automate data integration and synchronization across various marketing platforms, ensuring data consistency and accuracy. By centralizing your data and using Improvado's robust validation processes, you can minimize errors and maintain reliable, decision-ready data for all your marketing efforts. This strong data foundation helps ensure that your marketing strategies are based on accurate and up-to-date information.
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