Dead, Living or Zombie?
- Dead data is data that is gathered but unused
- Zombie data is data that is gathered, used, but requires manual work
- Hybrid data is Zombie data disguised as Living data
- Living data is data that is collected, used and requires no manual work
- 100% Living data should be the goal
- Riot can help get you there if you need support
As the saying goes, “The only thing worse than no data is bad data.” I’m sure you’ve also heard that “bad data in is bad data out.”
Buzz phrases? Certainly. Cliche? Maybe. Regardless, any data-minded marketer knows how true these phrases are. They should remind you to be forever vigilant in your data management and encourage frequent self-evaluation questions, like:
- What data are you gathering?
- How are you gathering it?
- How are you using it?
- How do you protect it?
- How do you analyze it?
- How do you share it with others internally?
While these are great questions that you should ask yourself frequently, one of my favorite questions to ask is “How’s your marketing data?” That is, “what is the state of your data?” It’s always interesting to hear how different marketers respond to this question.
Not sure how you would respond? Let me clarify the question.
Over the years of working with various clients, startups to enterprise, I have found that data can be categorized into three (and a half) different types. Dead, Zombie and Living data. As well as a hybrid type between Zombie, and Living.
Obviously, these terms are not scientific, they are simply categorization types that I like to use. Other similar terms can be found, like Static data and Dynamic data, but they don’t convey the narrative I hope to portray. Plus, mine sound cooler anyway…
Dead Data (Good)
Data that is being collected but is unused. It just sits there gathering dust like all those VHS tapes sitting in your storage. The data may be Static or Dynamic, but if it isn’t used, it’s worthless. It’s dead. Dead data is better than no data, but clearly not ideal.
Example: You are able to see how many times people visit your website and how they engage with it through an integration between your website and your CRM or marketing automation platform. This data is being gathered, but it just sits there. You don’t actually do anything with it. #SadDay
Zombie Data (Better)
Data that is being collected and used, but is not real-time and/or does not update automatically. This type of stagnant data often needs to be input or updated manually to maintain data integrity. It’s better to be undead than dead, hence the name.
Example: You are tracking all of your high-level stats in a spreadsheet that you share with your boss at the end of each month. The data is gathered and used, but you have to manually create and update the cross-platform excel report. Things could be worse, but at least you can still find love.
So…this one is a bit kooky. It’s definitely Zombie Data, but it’s being presented as if it were dynamic living data. That is, it looks like Living data but on the backend, it really isn’t.
Example: The dataset from the previous example is pulled every 2 hours to update your data visualizations in your business intelligence tool (like Domo, Power BI, or Tableau). It looks like the data is real-time, but it requires manual updates for the visualization to actually change, regardless of how often the tool pulls or refreshes.
Living Data (Best)
Data that is being collected and automatically updates in real-time. What differentiates Living data from Dynamic data is how the data is used. You may have a lot of great Dynamic data, but if it just sits there without use, then it really isn’t living. It’s dead to you.
The ideal scenario for Living data is when all of your sources are connected to a single centralized location. Being connected directly to the sources, you shouldn’t have to manually pull data and then update any spreadsheets. Instead, the various data sets should update automatically.
Example: Your website analytics, social media data, CRM records, and more, are all connected to your BI tool. The visualizations all update in real-time, giving you a true look into what is happening without any manual work. The report for your boss can be pulled at anytime and can even be automatically delivered to her/his inbox on a recurring schedule.
So, now after having more clarification of the question, how’s your marketing data? Are you in the Zombie type? Living? A mix of the lot?
Typically most organizations vary depending on their data sets. A single company may have strong Living data in some regards and Zombie, Dead or no data in others.
The goal is to have 100% Living data, but that will come with time, hard work and patience. Wherever you stand, don’t feel discouraged. We are all at different points on the path towards marketing maturity and sophistication. The important thing is that we keep learning, growing, and progressing forward.
Need some support with your data? Riot can help.
One of Riot’s greatest strengths is helping clients with their data planning and design. Moving from Dead or Zombie data to Living data is a specialty of ours. May seem a bit nerdy, but we love doing it and we are dang good at it. If you are interested in having a discussion, please use our scheduling tool here to choose a time that works best for your calendar.