Data underpins all your digital marketing. However, you need it to be trustworthy. Unreliable data has a devastating effect on campaign performance for businesses around the world. Is there anything you can be doing to maintain better data quality to improve your marketing ROI?
Last year, a report found that just (36%) of digital marketers are confident their campaigns are reaching the right audience.
How come? While ad fraud (costing businesses $16.4 billion globally) and advert overexposure wastes millions every hour, bad data remains one of the biggest causes for wasted marketing spend. The Royal Mail found that it costs the average UK business 4.9% of their annual revenue.
It is highly likely that your business is collecting and creating some form of bad data. Sometimes this is out of your control. Sky News, for example, reported that almost half of all internet users (49%) are deliberately falsifying the data they provide to companies when signing up to online services.
Yet you can be proactive about maintaining the condition of data.
Obviously, our first suggestion would be to ask Blue Sheep to assess the health of your marketing data with a Data Quality Audit. However, there are data quality best practices you could be using to mitigate some of the issues, and minimise the waste on badly targeted campaigns or sending messages to inaccurate addresses.
Find support from the top
Establishing better data governance is an approach that works best when supported from the top. Even so, activating a program can be challenging. Particularly as this requires acquiring the people and/or resources needed to drive data quality initiatives.
Get to the root of the problem
If you’re developing a data quality plan then you need to establish where data is collected and where most of your data quality errors occur. For example:
- Is information entered correctly at the origin? Human data entry error is one of the major contributors to inaccurate data, both wilful and inadvertent.
- Is data kept for so long that it can no longer be considered valid? Are you holding on to former addresses for too long? What rules are you applying for how long older data survives?
- Is data integrity suffering during organisational processing? For example, if it is handed from one department to another?
- Are your systems integrated? Multiple channels and multiple departments often collect duplicate data for the same customer.
Standardise and validate
Further to the point above, ensuring data is accurate at the point it is created is a logical step to prevent bad data, rather than having to correct it at a later date. This can include:
- Form fields rules that only accept data in a certain format. Ensuring that a date of birth, phone number or address is standardised right from the start will reduce inaccuracies and the likelihood of creating a duplicated record.
- Restrict what information your website forms accept. A B2B company, for example, might choose not to accept personal email addresses. This will not only be useful when considering data protection laws (there are differences between how you can use B2B and B2C personal data for marketing), but mitigate false addresses. Insisting on a business address can also help marketers learn more about where their leads have come from.
- Use address verification tools. Blue Sheep offer contact detail verification services, but you could also use real-time postal address checking software that confirm addresses are correct before they are accepted.
- Applying merge fields to your data (for example, to add additional information about your customers when uploading data lists to your CRM) makes existing records more informative and minimise the number of duplicates.
Do your chores
Unless you have a process to cleanse and consolidate your database for you (which is why a Single Customer View is so desirable), then it means the time-consuming task of manually cleaning your data. It won’t make these jobs any more exciting, but making a routine of looking at campaign performance can show opportunities to cleanse data.
For example, this could be removing emails addresses that have hard bounced or recorded as undeliverable. Or, adding people to a suppression list if they failed to engage with any message for a set amount of time. Consider only giving the ability to correct this data to certain administrators, to ensure that only the right people can make amends.
Append, cleanse and enhance
If the task of data cleansing is too much to tackle in-house, you should be regularly assessing the quality of your data with the help of others.
Data cleaning services do the hard work of scrubbing duplicates, flagging individuals who have opted out, correcting inaccurate postal records and validate contact record for you.
As personal data always decays, a one-off data clean is a quick fix that can have immediate uplift to marketing performance (we find an average of 25% of contact records in a data file are incorrect), but needs to be a starting point for a more regular cleaning regime.
Refining your data quality has huge benefits for your marketing. Not just the ability to better segment your lists, but improving the deliverability of your emails and accuracy of your reporting. If you need a help getting started or want us to take on some of the load, get in touch or give us a call at 01242 545 340
Blue Sheep Data Quality Audits
Thousands of marketers use the Blue Sheep Data Quality Audit to assess and improve the health of their marketing data.
This free service can be used as a one-time assessment of your marketing data quality, or as the first step on a partnership with Blue Sheep towards an insights driven marketing team.