Aruna is a guest author from MediaMath.

As we get ready to end the year and prepare for an exciting 2016 where plenty of marketing predictions abound, one concept remains clear: the focus on better targeting the right customers is top of mind for many marketers.

I sat down to chat with some of MediaMath's data partners to get their thoughts on “Data Health Tips” marketers can consider for the New Year. Here’s what they had to say.

Craig Teich, EVP of Global Sales at Connexity, recommends the following:

  1. Seek more meaningful data partnerships: Seek to build relationships with partners who can add value to you initiatives by supplementing your own online and offline customer data. Go beyond buying standard, off-the shelf audiences; an effective data partner can help you identify new, meaningful signals for more sophisticated targeting.
  2. Connect the dots between insights and action: Focus on how you will translate learnings and insights into your media strategy. Rather than passing (and diluting) spreadsheets, strive to close the gap between insights and action. Marketing technology companies should also aim to eliminate gaps in their product suite in order to provide more end-to-end solutions.
  3. Stop using good data to power mediocre creative: Too many marketers have forgotten the power and importance of good creative in achieving their performance goals. It does not matter how accurate the targeting is if the message doesn’t resonate or catch your audience’s attention.

Rashmi Vittal, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Neustar, delves a little further since she thinks 2016 will be all about solving the cross-device identity problem.  Whether you call it authoritative identity, an identity graph or something else, we all need customer portraits that include online interactions; authoritative, linked offline data; and fresh, verified CRM data. With many solutions out there, marketers need to do their research to make apples to apples comparisons of existing cross-device solutions. She provides us with some of her top tips for marketers who want to better understand customers and prospects, wherever they are:

  1. Improve your inputs: Resolve to use high-quality data from real-world sources, and use both online and offline data for a more accurate and complete picture of customers and prospects. Stop relying solely on online behavioral data—while it has value, its imprecision leads to marketing waste.
  2. Whip your data into shape: Onboard, match and append your customer data against an authoritative data set, using an identity framework that's regularly refreshed and corroborated. This lets you make marketing decisions that are current, relevant and consistent across channels. 
  3. Keep things fresh: Use a partner that keeps your CRM data fresh. CRM data is only powerful if it is updated as people move, change numbers or get new emails. Marketing against stale data results in wasted dollars on moving targets, failure to message consistently across channels and missing out on customers with a high propensity to purchase.

The message we are hearing is that the quality, breadth and freshness of your data does clearly matter  – yet good data health alone cannot compensate for poor overall marketing strategies.

Check back next week to hear some of the New Year’s resolutions our data partners are making. Have you thought about yours yet?