As we move out of winter towards the promise of warmer months, it means the perfect opportunity for a time-honoured tradition: the spring clean. No, we don’t mean giving the carpets a vacuum and binning that green sandwich in the office fridge that everyone is afraid to touch. We’re talking about cleaning your dirty data, before it causes serious damage to your business.
You don’t need us to tell you that data fuels every department of your business and for marketers, their database helps them understand their customers, identify new prospects, build and deploy campaigns and improve profitability.
The problem lies with maintaining the integrity of this data. Not only may it be unfit for purpose straight away, the speed and volume that data is collected can lead to further problems with quality.
Businesses and customers change addresses; prospects change job roles and companies; names change; new email addresses are created – the list goes on. Then, of course, there are issues that arise at the user input level: customers create multiple accounts and falsify information (both intentionally and accidentally). Different departments – even different employees – can make records inconsistent (the way that an order, name or DOB is input, for example), or miss out crucial information completely.
Marketers face additional challenges with data siloes. For example, just one customer could have multiple accounts, created from transactional, behavioural and offline data sources, using variations of their personal details each time.
Needless to say, this combination of error, degradation and duplication means your marketing data is very quickly going to become dirty and poor quality data can completely kill the effectiveness of all your marketing efforts.
Unreliable data means an increased likelihood of sending the wrong message to the wrong person, the right message to the same person multiple times over, or simply an inability to find customers at all.
A new data hygiene routine
There is no ‘quick fix’ to improve data hygiene. Although a data cleansing service will remove duplicate records, ensure your records are up-to-date and reorganise misaligned data, it needs to be more that a one-time event or the value of the data will quickly start to decay again.
Instead, encouraging good data hygiene needs to be a process – routine maintenance that ensures your database is clean, consolidated and valuable. Clean data presents marketers with truthful insight and clearly identifies opportunities for customer retention and acquisition, cross selling and up selling.
Undertaking regular audits will help ensure that your database remains accurate and relevant but it should also be your opportunity to establish a more meticulous approach to data capture, in your CRM at least.
By standardising how information is input into data fields and establishing a set of rules for entering titles and approving record creation can help catch duplicates. Putting in place regular intervals for data cleansing and keeping a log of when records are last cleaned will help make campaign selections quicker and more accurate.
Better training and knowledge for database users will highlight the importance of formatting data and merging records when encountered. Diligence at this stage could help prevent larger headaches in the future.
Introducing a Single Customer View to extract and aggregate multiple data sets from other streams will also further enhance the accuracy of your database and offer more a trustworthy and holistic view of your customers and contacts.
With clean and accurate data to base your marketing efforts on, your business will quickly start to see the benefits: improved deliverability and response to your messages through correct targeting; the ability to offer better customer service and boost retention; and more efficient use of your marketing budgets.
So, what might start with a quick dusting may lead to hiring a cleaner and eventually redecorating, but a new approach to data hygiene can keep your whole house in order.
If you’re unsure about the state of your database then request a free Data Quality Audit from Blue Sheep and you’ll receive an 8-10 page report highlighting inaccuracies, duplicates, invalid records and potential enhancements.