4 Quick Data Quality Tips for Marketers
You know data quality is important. As a marketer, you’re aware that poor data quality can lead to ineffective campaigns, inaccurate analysis, and wasted money. But there’s a problem. You know your organization still has data quality issues. Also, you don’t have time to figure out how to fix everything.
So, what can you do about it?
Luckily, we’ve put together four quick data quality tips for you that are actionable and effective. They’re based on proven data hygiene practices. Follow them and you’ll be on your way to some serious data quality improvements.
What are some data quality issues you may have?
It’s virtually a certainty that you have at least some data quality issues, especially surrounding contact data. It’s very common. In fact, 97% of companies that participated in a major data quality study reported suffering from common errors associated with contact data.
Numerous data quality issues exist, but some are much more common than others. Here are a few of the common ones that we see marketers like you encounter:
Outdated, inaccurate contact data
Though the following list of tips is not an exhaustive one, it will help you make significant strides in the right direction.
Four Data Quality Tips
1) Validate and standardize your customer data.
Oftentimes, address data and emails entered online contain errors. These include misspellings, incorrect postal codes, or even fake addresses to name a few. And if you have multiple sales reps entering data into a CRM and other departments collecting data on their own, the errors compound.
For your customer data to be useful—or even make any sense—it should be both validated and standardized. This will serve as the foundation of your approach to improving data quality.
When you standardize your data, it will look clean and consistent throughout the file. Each record will have the proper upper and lower casing needed for mailings and general readability. Abbreviations will also be consistent and with USPS® standards.
When you validate your data, you immediately improve the deliverability of your email or postal addresses.
Validating postal addresses means:
identifying bad addresses and correcting them where possible
eliminating fake addresses
adding a Zip + 4 added to each record, which leads to faster mail delivery.
Fortunately, data hygiene services can validate, correct, and standardize postal addresses for you.
As for email addresses, you can validate them using various email validation services.
Is direct mail dead? No! Check out these 9 reasons direct mail works.
2) Update your Customer Data regularly.
Your contact data gets outdated because people move every day. In fact, every year about 12% of the population moves according to the US Census Bureau.
If you don’t update your contact database with new addresses, you’ll have low deliverability that will lead to wasted mailing costs.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution.
Ensure your in-house file is updated regularly using a "Move Update.” First, your file goes through validation processing to get all the addresses validated and corrected. Then, it’s matched against the change-of-address database and processing updates each record with the new address.
If you mail multiple times per year, you should update your list quarterly.
If "you process the list of addresses through a Move Update method within 95 days prior to the mailing date, you may use it to mail at the discounted postage prices." ("Guide to Move Update," August 2016, p. 40.)”
So, update your data to improve deliverability, prevent wasted postage, and save money with discounts.
3) Remove Duplicates.
You might be surprised to hear that in one study, 32% of participating companies reported having duplicate contact data.
At first, this situation may seem easy to prevent. However, as organizations grow and different departments maintain separate lists of customers and contacts, duplicate records often appear on master data files.
Using a database with duplicate records puts you at risk of sending your contacts duplicate mail pieces or emails. This can tarnish your brand’s reputation and waste money.
How do you remedy this?
One way is to remove the duplicates yourself using software you have, such as Excel.
Unfortunately, you may fall short if the list exceeds your software’s limits (e.g. ~1.1 million records in Excel). Also, if you have records with misspellings and incomplete or inconsistent data, your cleaning attempts may not work.
Another way is to work with a company that has proprietary deduplication software. Their specialized software can outperform what you have on-hand.
(Related: 9 Mistakes to Avoid in Direct Marketing)
4) Fill in the gaps by enhancing your database.
Lastly, enhancing your database with additional data may prove extremely beneficial.
Sometimes holes exist in databases. Certain pieces of contact information may be missing. You’ll often find that little other information exists other than name and address or email. Hopefully, you have transaction data easily available.
So what do you use to fill in the gaps?
You can append demographic or firmographic data to your customer database along with hobbies, interests, homeowner status, and more. You can also append phone numbers and apartment numbers, which can help you reach them better.
These types of data enhancements can serve as the basis for deeper insight into your customers. They can help you target segments with greater precision and boost your marketing effectiveness.
Good data quality is essential for effective marketing. It can help you improve deliverability, save money, and understand your customers better.
In a way, cleaning up your data is like cleaning your house. You can ignore it if you want, but you’ll eventually regret letting it become a mess.
Fortunately, you can make some big improvements with these four tips:
Validate and standardize your customer data.
Update your customer data regularly.
Fill in the gaps by enhancing your database.
You can take further steps to improve your data quality, but start with these four and you’ll have a database you can trust.
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