Six Important Reasons to Care about Data Quality

Early in my teens, I created a direct marketing campaign. Of course, I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. After attending a babysitting class, I created a flyer with my mom’s help, touting my newly developed skills. We pulled a list of names and addresses of families with young children from our church directory and then mailed my flyer to them. Things were much simpler then – no email, internet, mobile phones, smart devices, or social media. A mailing was the way to go for my budget, and it worked! I got babysitting jobs at the whopping rate of 50 cents an hour! (Yes, times have changed.)

Today, we all realize that marketing is much more complex than in those days. And marketers need to reach their customers and prospects across many channels. But the concept is still the same. Find an audience and talk to them about something that solves their problem using channels that create success.

In today’s complex and ever-changing marketing world, one thing hasn’t changed. The quality of the contact data is still critical. Marketers sometime question the need for data quality and data hygiene processes when they are using digital channels rather than direct mail. Some may think it’s not important to have standardized and up-to-date information, and they may not realize that current, accurate postal addresses are still important, even when not using direct mail.

There are many reasons marketers should care about the cleanliness and accuracy of their data, and, yes, that includes their postal addresses. Here are six important reasons to care about data quality:

  1. Marketers view data quality as a major business issue. A recent survey showed that nearly half (46%) of marketing influencers consider improving marketing data quality a critical challenge to achieving marketing data success (Ascend2 and Research Partners, “Marketing Data Quality Trends Survey Summary Report,” July 2017, www.ascend2.com). Issues with data quality include missing data, outdated, duplicate, non-conforming data, and data that is entered in error such as misspellings, typos, and intentionally incorrect data. Whether it’s because of how the data is collected, or because the data has aged, ensuring there is quality contact data is critical for successful marketing campaigns.
  2. Data quality can decline from 2% to 3% a month (Ascend2 survey, www.ascend2.com, Jan 2017). This number varies with people in different age groups and in different geographies. When people move, get married, get divorced, or change jobs, a portion of customer names, addresses and information collected will be out of date in a year – and that’s means decay for 25-30% of a customer base annually. Marketers may not be able to reach their customers, and campaigns will not be as effective because of lower responses if data quality is not addressed.
  3. Data quality techniques should be maintained as a practice so companies can stay in contact with their customers. These techniques should be foundational as customer databases need to be maintained to keep the data as clean and current as possible. It’s important to continually combat deteriorating data to maintain good customer relationships.
  4. Standardized, cleansed, and corrected contact data improves the ability to enhance data with third-party demographic information and creates more accurate marketing information. When the data is more accurate, better targeting can be achieved, and that means higher return on investment.
  5. Onboarding the most up-to-date and accurate data is important for digital advertising. This allows more accurate matching to data attributes related to where a consumer lives. The more accurate the contact data, the more accurate the enhancement data that can be used for digital targeting.
  6. Accurate and current data is important for non-marketing activities too. Healthcare and government entities need accurate and up-to-date contact data for people-based engagements such as making sure refunds reach the right place or providing services to consumers.

Marketers must remain vigilant in ensuring the quality of their data by implementing regular data hygiene processes that standardize, validate, and update contact elements such as names, postal addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. With quality data, marketers can reach out to customers and prospects with current, relevant messages using appropriate channels for marketing success. Even though channels are many and more complex, caring for the quality of data is a requirement for the most effective marketing. And that’s as true today as it was many years ago when I was a teenager looking for babysitting jobs!

To learn more about data quality, download our new eBook here.

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