When you ditch bad data, costs decline and ROI soars

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Beatriz Santin
Beatriz Santin

A company's prospect and customer database is critical to every marketer. While the message and the medium are crucial to effective marketing, these tools are meaningless if the intended recipient is not reached.

Yet, while all marketers recognize the correlation between database accuracy and campaign success, maintaining up-to-date data is admittedly difficult. A 2011 Experian QAS research report revealed that 92% of global organizations suspect that their customer and prospect data may be inaccurate in some way. In addition, 90% of organizations state that at least some of their departmental budget was wasted during the last year as a result of inaccurate contact data. On average, they believe that as much as 25% of their departmental budget was wasted due to bad data.

To discover the root cause of that waste, marketers do not need to look far. That same study found that human error is the main cause of data mistrust. To avoid these types of data errors, marketers must remove the possibility of human error by ensuring that automated data cleansing processes are in place. Beginning this process will reduce unnecessary costs and ensure campaign effectiveness.

First, install point-of-capture verification tools that correct contact details regardless of where it is entered — on the website or at the call center. This is the only way to ensure that data is 100% accurate and complete from the very beginning because customers and prospects are prompted for missing information. This practice will not only improve marketing ROI but also enhance customer service and the overall business perception with enhanced communication.

Second, run purchased lists through a batch cleansing process before using them. While back-end processes won't correct all errors, a good tool will correct a number of errors, automatically increasing your reach. Marketing should scrub the lists prior to launching a campaign.

Finally, maintain and enhance contact records through data appends. Look for a third-party vendor that can track contacts and append data as it changes. Data updates enable marketers to stay in touch with prospects and customers, while saving money on communications that would otherwise not reach the intended recipient.

Even if the magnitude of your company's data quality issues seems daunting, take incremental steps to improve your contact database and you will see improvement in the ROI of your marketing campaigns and reduce waste.

Beatriz Santin is marketing director at Experian QAS. Reach her at beatriz.santin@qas.com.

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