Data Taxonomy Best Practices

June 19, 2023

Data continues to be an increasing driver for businesses of all sizes and the need to effectively manage and organize that data has grown almost exponentially. Data taxonomy provides a framework for understanding how different types of data are related. It's then used to improve decision-making, strengthen the customer experience, and minimize costs.

All of this adds up to making it a critical tool for any company that wants to maximize its data asset value. New insights, analysis and actual business intelligence rely on data structures and models that are clean, accurate, and logical,

This growing role has increased the importance of having effective strategies for organizing information. A proper taxonomy helps to better understand customer requirements and preferences. This is accomplished by grouping similar pieces of information into coherent categories. Both from an internal perspective (i.e., categorizing sales leads) as well as from an external one (i.e., segmenting users).

By taking into account the various relationships between different types of information, valuable insights are gained. Additionally, having a clear structure makes it easier to find specific data. This helps conserve resources while also improving accuracy across multiple teams.

In this post we will explore the role of data in business and offer some best practices for structuring data in the future.

The Big Picture of Data in Business

Data plays an increasingly important role in helping organizations achieve their strategic initiatives. Different types of data can be utilized to inform and guide such initiatives. This includes customer demographics and behavior, market trends, financial indicators, performance metrics, and competitor activity.

Customer data can help companies understand their customers and how they behave. This can then be used to zero in on new customers and track the performance of existing ones. Market trend data can provide insights into the broader industry landscape. Financial and performance metrics can inform strategies around budgeting and resource allocation.

Competitor activity is also an important factor in business decision-making. Knowing what they're doing and how well they’re doing it allows you to adjust your strategy accordingly, either by leveraging their strengths or exploiting their weaknesses.

By having a clear taxonomy in place, companies can get the most out of their data. They can also ensure that they're using the data to effectively drive the continued growth of the business. Successful data taxonomy requires careful planning, thoughtful organization, and ongoing maintenance.

The Importance of Data Taxonomies

Data taxonomy helps companies understand their customers and the market, track their performance, and compare what they do with competitors. 

What is a data taxonomy?

A data taxonomy is a system of organizing data into categories. It helps to structure information so that it can be located quickly and easily understood. Data taxonomies are made up of terms, which can be hierarchical or related in some way (such as “customers”, “leads”, and “opportunities”). 

By structuring data in this way, companies can gain insight into the behavior and preferences of their customer base and betting insight into current market trends.

The positive impact of well-categorized data

Data taxonomies help with data governance. They provides a framework for how information should be collected, stored, and accessed to ensure it remains secure and compliant with regulations. Having an established taxonomy makes it easier to keep track of where data is located and who has access to it.

This practice also makes it easier to understand customer needs and preferences. By segmenting customers into different categories, companies can hone their marketing efforts and improve the overall customer experience. This can increase engagement and loyalty, which helps drive revenue growth. Additionally, data taxonomies help reduce costs by streamlining processes such as inventory management.

The negative impact of poorly categorized data

Having a poor data taxonomy can have damaging consequences. Without proper categorization, important information or insights may go unnoticed. This could lead to inaccurate predictions or decisions, which in turn could result in losses for the company.

In addition, having an inadequate data taxonomy can make it difficult to find information quickly and accurately. This increases time spent on tasks and can lead to errors or delays. It can also be difficult to track the origin of data when there’s no clear structure in place.

Finally, a lack of data taxonomy can make it hard to monitor access and ensure regulatory compliance. This could have serious legal and financial consequences if confidential customer information is mishandled or exposed.

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Data Taxonomy Best Practices

When implementing a data taxonomy, there are some best practices you need to be aware of.  Following these guidelines will put you and your organization on the way to clean data sets that are accessible, usable and capable of powering your business towards its strategic initiatives.

Start with desired outcomes and goals

You should work hard to craft specific criteria for what you want to achieve, both with your data and how it will be used. Develop a framework that fits your needs and tailor it to meet your unique goals and objectives.

Additionally, you should involve stakeholders in the process. Make sure everyone who is involved in data management is on board with the taxonomy. This will help get everyone familiar with the structure and that it works for all departments.

Determine how to measure against those goals

Metrics and goals are essential when it comes to developing a successful data taxonomy. When planning your taxonomy, it's important to determine how metrics will be used to measure its success. 

Are you looking for data sets that integrate easily with tools and applications? Are you structuring data to be used cross-functionally without much hand holding?  Whatever goals you set at the start of your taxonomy journey, it is crucial to measure progress and, ultimately, success.

Evaluate data integrity and completeness

It’s important to keep data integrity and completeness in mind when creating a taxonomy. This means making sure you have the necessary information to accurately categorize your data, as well as regularly checking to ensure that your categories are up-to-date. The data set itself should be qualified for both accuracy and completeness. A gap in either will ultimately render the insights provided by the data unreliable or even inaccurate.

Decide how you will categorize the data

Next, you need to decide which categories and subcategories will be used. Choose the ones that align with your plan and are easy to understand. Consider using industry standards if possible, as this can help ensure consistency across departments.

Apply the categorization to each data set

Applying categorization to data sets involves more than simply assigning labels. It also requires understanding the context and meaning behind each piece of data. Each data set should be thoroughly analyzed and categorized based on its purpose, source, format, and other relevant factors. This ensures that the taxonomy is accurate and complete.

Choose functionality over everything else

Functionality should be a primary focus. It’s important to keep in mind that your categorization will be used by people, so it needs to be intuitive and user-friendly. Consider the language and terminology you use, as well as how easy it is for users to find what they need.

Implement in stages

Creating a taxonomy for an entire company or organization can be a daunting task. To make the process easier, it’s best to break it down into smaller chunks and implement it in stages. This allows you to focus on one area at a time and adjust as needed based on feedback from stakeholders.

Test along the way, course-correct as needed

Testing is key to ensuring your taxonomy is effective. Gather feedback from stakeholders and test the categorization over time to make sure it meets all of your goals. If necessary, course-correct and refine your categorization as needed.

Finally, document each step in the process. This includes creating a detailed record of all the categories, sub-categories, and overall structure. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and familiar with the taxonomy when changes need to be made.



Developing a successful data taxonomy requires careful planning and consideration. It's important to:

  • Involve stakeholders
  • Determine metrics for success
  • Evaluate data integrity and completeness
  • Decide how to categorize the data
  • Implement in stages 
  • Test along the way

Documenting each step in the process is also essential for ensuring everyone is familiar with the structure of the taxonomy when changes need to be made. With a well-structured plan in place, businesses can leverage their data more effectively to drive better decisions and long-term success.

Marin Software enables businesses to manage and optimize their online campaigns across search, social, and display networks using advanced analytics tools. We will ensure your data taxonomy is well utilized by tying categories to real business outcomes within your advertising initiatives. 

With our powerful platform, marketers can easily measure the performance of their campaigns, identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions quickly. This helps to maximize returns on advertising investments while improving customer engagement and satisfaction. Marin also provides training resources to help users get the most out of their software products. With our comprehensive suite of services, we provide a complete solution for all your digital marketing needs. Contact us today to learn more about how Marin Software can help you take your digital marketing efforts to the next level.

Katie Sullivan Porter

Marin Software
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