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Uncovering the Potential of Dark Data

Every day 2.5 exabytes of data are created. That’s a lot of rich information — but unfortunately a majority of that data isn’t being used to its fullest capabilities. The majority of data today is unstructured, aka dark data. Think of emails, notes from a call, social media feeds, blog posts, videos and more. It’s considered dark because it’s hidden or undigested.

Most customer success, marketing and sales teams rely on a CRM system to stay updated about their customers and prospects. These systems do a great job of organizing structured data like contact name, company size and purchase history, but their capabilities stop when it comes to unstructured data. Unstructured data doesn’t fit neatly into rows and columns of a spreadsheet and doesn’t match the fields in a typical database.

Standardize dark data to uncover the true potential of the 2.5 exabytes of data created daily Click To Tweet

CRM and business analytics tools don’t speak the same language as unstructured data. For these tools to organize this data, it must first be converted into the same language as structured data. For instance, social media feeds can be analyzed and standardized into a numeric data point. Stitch Fix turns images from a customer’s social media accounts to better understand their style preferences and customize clothing items that the customer receives.

Unstructured + Structured Data = Information Gold Mine

Successful customer success, sales and marketing teams are adopting a data-driven approach to build relationships with prospects and customers. Growth teams that solely rely on structured data in CRMs are ignoring valuable information buried in customer calls, reports, annual reports, blog posts and more.

In fact, 90 percent of digital data is unstructured — and therefore often isn’t accounted for. By harnessing information from these conversations and interactions, companies can have greater insight into a customer’s needs and understand how their product can be a solution for the customer. ¬†Even more, companies that use unstructured data experience 10 percent greater organic revenue growth and increase in operating profit than those that don’t.

When sales reps and managers reach out to prospects, they are in the best position to provide the most relevant information and value when they know where the prospect is in the sales cycle. Yet all too often, they are merely looking at intent signals, which show when a prospect looks at product pages and downloads white papers related to that product. Sales teams need to take it one step further. Combining structured data with standardized unstructured data can provide a more comprehensive view of the customer or prospect.

First Things First When It Comes to Data

You don’t need a full fledged data science team to take a data-driven approach to sales, marketing and customer success. You simply need the right technology, organization and cross-team collaboration. And don’t wait — start making sense of unstructured data today because a few years down the road, there will be even more dark data that your team will want to gain insights from.

Before you can think about structuring unstructured data, first you need to make sure that data from your sales, marketing and customer success teams are in the same place. A main pain point for growth teams is that they don’t have one central data repository that all teams access. When data is housed in one place, all teams have greater ownership over it and therefore are more likely to update the data and share useful insights with other teams.

Next, start small and supplement with outside data. Don’t try to discover all of the dark dark out there. Instead identify the data that’s most useful for your team. To provide your team with more insights without extra effort, leverage public data and consider investing in a data intelligence platform that provides auto-updated demographic, industry and other relevant information about a company.

With the right technology and customer-first mindset across sales, marketing and customer success, teams can turn unstructured data into structured insights that can be organized in your CRM. Uncover the power of dark data for greater business growth and customer success!

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Also published on Medium.

© Mattermark 2018. Sources: Mattermark Research, Crunchbase, AngelList.
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