There are few things in marketing that can make an almost immediate and huge impact on direct marketing success. Cleaning your database is one of them. There are hidden treasures in your database lost behind bad email addresses, faulty phone numbers and misunderstood interests.
According to a 2013 Data Quality Benchmark Report produced by NetProspex more than half of all US organizations work with bad quality data. That’s a whole lot of unopened emails, returned direct mailers and frustrated sales calls.
Take a look at the picture to your left. If you look quickly. What do you see? Probably some cliffs, snow, maybe a tree or two. After a little observation you may notice that some of the cliff seems to have unnatural shapes. Our database is very much the same. On the surface we can easily see where blank information resides, track hard email bounces and notice when area codes don’t match the known contact’s location. Look a little more carefully and you’ll see that the unnatural shapes are in fact ancient cliff dwellings. But unless you spend the time to focus on the image you’d never get the pleasure of experiencing that unexpected treat.
Our databases are the same. They need care, attention and a whole lot of marketing love or we’ll miss the opportunity to delight our buyers. This seems so obvious, so why are so many companies working with lack luster databases? Because maintaining good quality databases is hard. In order to put your best foot forward you have to commit to the following:
#1 I shall regularly delete junk – Say it with me, its OK to delete data. No one likes to take names out of the database but if that contact hasn’t responded to a single piece of content in the last 2 years, or the phone number is disconnected you may want to take a deep breath and let go! Take out those Mickey Mouse and Joe Smith at ABC company records. I promise, they aren’t real people with real interest or they would have given you a real name and address. Whatever criteria you build, just do it. Your response rates will go up and your energy can be focused on the people with true interest.
#2 I shall partner with the rest of the company to fill in the blanks – It’s great that someone visited the website and downloaded a few case studies. But what does the sales rep in the territory know about them? Do you know their physical location? Can you identify their industry? How large is their company? We create fields in our database for a reason – because they help us segment and align messages to buyer need. Don’t let them sit empty.
#3 I shall access data quality on a quarterly basis – Sadly most organizations do a big data quality push. Everything is in top order, they feel great. Then each week the quality degrades as people move, new data flows in, sales people make more phone calls. Data quality can NOT be one time or annual process. You should be looking at it monthly, but at least commit to quarterly assessments and corrective steps.
#4 I shall honor contact preferences – Legalities aside, this is the right thing to do. Don’t force unsubscribes by giving contacts only one choice – get our email on our terms or don’t get any at all. Give them choices, and honor their requests.
Keeping your database high quality is hard, but it IS worth it.
p.s. You may also enjoy reading this article that appeared in CMO.com which spotlights the 2013 data quality benchmark report and offers some tips for getting started by myself and two other marketing leaders.