Clean data enables a successful marketing automation initiative. A top-performing database requires regular check-ups and clean data. The checkups need benchmarks to identify good or bad trends. This is especially true as more companies use marketing automation.

Eloqua recently shared an eye-opening statistic from the Data Warehousing Institute: Poorly managed data costs U.S. companies over $600 Billion each year! Imagine how that poor data relates to your organization, your marketing automation strategy, and how many sales opportunities are lost or never found.

Poorly maintained data in both the CRM and Marketing Automation platforms will guarantee lackluster performance in any campaign or program. Healthy databases drive more revenue.

Data management practices should be a top priority for any marketing operations team. Data should be standardized on what will be captured, the fields used, format, what should be deleted. And the database should be continually normalized against the standard.

When an organization supports and follows data standards, marketing effectiveness increases incrementally with each campaign and through each quarter and fiscal year.

The good news? It’s never too late to work on data standardization and normalization. Marketing automation and CRM platforms have numerous applications and connectors that make the process easier to manage.

Here are five recommendations to build and maintain a healthy marketing database:

1. Organize and Mobilize
Marketing should not define the data standards in a silo. Marketing automation and CRM platforms are often integrated with other systems across the organization including ERP, Product Management and Support. Form a data standardization team that represents the organization and gets their support. This team can develop the data standards the organization will follow. Keep the standard as simple as possible and don’t boil the ocean.

2. Standardize
Identify the data required for effective revenue marketing efforts. What information at a minimum should be captured for every account and contact? What are the customer segments? What are complete records?

3. Benchmark
What is the relative health of the database? How complete are fields? How accurate is the information? What are the sources of data? What are response rates?

4. Use Tools, Apps, and Connectors
Find the apps, tools and connectors for your marketing automation tool that fit your requirements to normalize and manage the data. Don’t get stuck using Excel as the only normalization tool for exports-imports, data replacements, appends, and de-duplication. Learn how to use the power of your marketing automation and CRM platform. Integrated apps and tools can hat help normalize the data to follow your standards to de-dupe leads, clean out the “Mickey Mouse” and QWERTY@QWERTY.com contacts. Even more valuable are appending data such as industry segments, postal codes and phone numbers and social profiles. Automate them to run at regular intervals.

5. Intervals
Athletes train in intervals. We see dentists and doctors (or should) for regular appointments. Your marketing automation database needs the normalization sequences to keep at peak performance levels. Some tools need to run daily. Some monthly. Find the right sequence to keep your database at peak levels of revenue performance.

Don’t wait to begin your data management and normalization process. Now is the perfect time to plan and execute your 2013 data management strategy!