What percentage of your data is clean and complete? That figure could be smaller than you think, according to research from Dun & Bradstreet that found as much as 96 percent of some organizations’ customer contact data was inaccurate in some way. Most of the inaccuracies in data are small by human standards – an incorrect spelling here, a missing middle initial there – but to computers, these little discrepancies introduce big headaches.
Data hygiene processes clean house, grouping data together in the proper account files and weeding out duplicate information or invalid addresses. With a marketing automation system or database services that maintain your information for you, you stay in front of the decay rate of your data (as much as 3 percent per month) and ensure you’re working with the most up to date information.
Putting Your Data Administrator in Charge
Who has control of your data? You might opt to have an in-house data governance manager or reach out to professionals who offer a full complement of database management services, but either way, clean data starts with putting someone in charge of quality control. When you assign responsibility for data quality, you’re able to set benchmarks to meet each month. Monitoring email delivery rates, updating forms, and sorting data into account files can be done automatically, but you need human expertise to oversee the system.
A Home for Every Piece of Data
One of the biggest reasons for data discrepancies is siloed data. The same customer might be on your in-house mailing list as Mike Jones, in your CRM as Michael Jones, and on your newsletter subscription files as Michael M. Jones. Add in other confounding factors, such as changing job titles, differences in company names, and new email addresses, and a single customer could look like a dozen people spread throughout your records. Establish a data hygiene process that normalizes and centralizes these records, and you’re able to link all your data correctly to the same customer. Marketing automation systems become data repositories that work with other tools to break down silo walls and let data move freely.
Trust, but Verify
How do you know the data you and your database management team have gathered into your central intelligence system is accurate? You can compare it to itself and learn a great deal – you can be fairly sure that “Michael Jones” and “Michael Jnoes” at the same company are the same person and eliminate the typo, for example – but that’s just the start. Comparing your records against a large master database for verification keeps your information clean. Think of it as a calibration check for your data.
Expand on Your Knowledge
Once you’ve cleansed your data, it’s time to take it a step farther and enhance it. Let’s go back to Michael Jones for a moment. You now have his proper name, job title, business mailing address, and phone number in your records, but you’re still missing some key pieces of information about him and his firm. Data enhancement services link the information you have with data from a central, third-party source to build more complete customer records. Email and reverse email appends, for example, attach a key piece of information to Michael Jones’ file, allowing you to connect with him via a new marketing channel.
Make this spring your season to get sparkling clean data and enrich it with more knowledge about your customers. Your efforts will pay off in increased ROI, higher response rates, and less wasted effort.
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