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Who owns your web marketing data? You do, so protect it!

Most large companies have at least some online data with an outside vendor or agency. Since even good agency relationships aren’t permanent, there will be a point where the data managed by that agency needs to come back home or migrate to another agency.

Yet many companies don’t have the simplest legal or procedural checks in place to make sure that their precious marketing data stays with them. In fact we have even worked with agencies that insisted the company’s sales data was theirs and could not be transferred at all.

We have also been utterly surprised to find agencies that are not interested in taking on the existing data during a handoff. As a result, that company had to start from scratch when creating their paid search campaign, delaying effective marketing for nearly two months.

Don’t let this happen to you! Your online traffic data is one of the most important sources of information for future sales effort that exists. Here are three simple steps for protecting your precious online marketing data:

1) Define all data ownership in writing. Both Google and Yahoo!’s position on data ownership on accounts with multiple users is sufficiently ambiguous that the ultimate owner of that data should be explicitly identified at the beginning of the business relationship. Definition of data ownership should be part of the work contract you sign with an agency.

2) Insist on owning your paid search and analytics accounts. This may seem like a hassle, but you should have separate Adwords, Yahoo!, and MSN accounts where someone in your company is the principal owner. AdWords has a method for adding an account to an agency console that is literally a two-click solution. Yahoo!’s system is a little more cumbersome, but still manageable. Regardless, the agencies working with you should be able to deal with these issues.

Some technical solutions require the creation of a unique account. This is fine, as long as the agency has described how that data will be passed on to you in case of a transition. With that in mind,

3) Ask any new agency to describe their plan for   onboarding and offboarding your data. They should have a policy written down for both activities that they can share with you.

Follow these simple rules, and you’ll keep the marketing gold where it belongs–with your company!

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