Three things every business can do today to get on top of bad data quality

Outsource blog: Three things every business can do today to get on top of bad data qualityManaging marketing data is a nightmare scenario for most firms. Somehow a once-clean, valid database of names, job titles and company names becomes an unusable mess.

The problem is that poor data costs money. It costs money when mail is marked return-to-sender, when emails bounce or when the last remaining contact with an important prospect company just seems to disappear never to be replaced. The cost isn’t always design, print and postage (or email distribution). The real cost is the missed sales opportunities.

If your database is 20% wrong, that’s a lot of your data that simply won’t ever respond to your marketing or sales offer. You may as well write a cheque to your charity of choice for 20% of the cost of the campaign and give it to them. At least its tax deductible.

At Outsource we spend a lot of time putting data management strategies in place for companies that have either just tidied up their data and want to keep it that way or those who have finally bitten the bullet and want the elephant in the lounge room to be moved on.

Here are some easy-to-implement tips and ideas that might help you get your data back into shape.

  • Audit your data. Don’t do anything until you at least do some basic analysis. Work out what’s broken beyond repair, what’s salvageable and how addressable the data is. Export your data into Excel if you have to and look at it. It’s boring work, but if you don’t want the cardboard box under your desk to overflow with more dead mail – it’s critical.
  • Consider triage. Data ages on average at 30% per annum. Prospecting records that haven’t been edited for more than five years should be viewed with suspicion. In larger databases, consider just deleting (once you’re positive there isn’t any other critical information attached to the record). It’s often cheaper to rent or buy new, updated data than it is to fix old data.
  • Set and internally publish protocols for data management (and hardwire them into your CRM or lead generation system if you can). Who can add records? Who can delete? Who can import new data (the biggest point of data destruction)? What will happen with return-to-send mail and email? Make sure data gets cleaned as soon as it’s sent back to you, don’t let it pile up. A little ongoing telemarketing support each week can keep most databases in good shape.

Data is critical for marketing success and good quality customer relationship management. Companies with good data sell more and have happier customers. Put a budget in place to look after it and it will look after you.