Study: Marketers Realize Their Data is Suspect

A study from Experian QAS entitled “Data Quality and the Customer Experience,” to be released on January 23, found that though enterprises understand the importance of customer information enough to implement data strategies (less than 1 percent of organizations currently don’t have one), many have issues determining and ensuring the quality of that data.


Experian QAS’ study had 804 respondents—constituting employees ranging from admin staff to C-level executives—across three countries and numerous verticals. While most organizations have processes to manage contact data, 66 percent of respondents stated that they used some manual processes—nominally analysis through Excel and campaign response rates. In fact, 23 percent of respondents only use manual processes to assess data accuracy.


While nearly one third of respondents didn’t know how much of their data is inaccurate, a whopping 94 percent of organizations realize their data is suspect; frequent errors occurred due to incomplete, outdated, or duplicated data. Sixty-five percent of the time, these issues were blamed on human error.


Thomas Schutz, SVP and general manager of Experian QAS, which provides solutions to improve the quality of contact data, explains that often, the place where data is first captured determines how that data can become corrupted. Web-capture processes—for instance, when consumers opt-in to receive a catalog or sign up for an email list—often have inaccuracies due to unintentional typos or deliberate mis-keys. In-store point-of-sale (POS) stations are also susceptible to similar issues, and the situation is often exacerbated by clerks who need to enter information in high-pressure, speed-driven environments. Moreover, the quality of information in list purchases is often dubious or incomplete.


Add internal processes—companies merging lists or databases or trying to internally validate their information while using poorly-developed algorithms—also create data inaccuracies.


Ultimately, the race for cleaner data is driven by revenue and enterprise expansion into multiple channels. “As the marketing process becomes more complex with different channels, the ROI of marketing is becoming so central,” Schutz says. “ROI is the central equation of any marketing organization that needs to interact meaningfully with customers.” Reduction of ROI in certain channels, Schutz adds, “is an indicator at a higher level for businesses to start looking at their strategies.” Multichannel outreach drives businesses to look more incisively at how they’re performing and using different channels—and data dictates interaction strategies.


This is in line with another finding from Experian QAS’s report: Motivation for having a data strategy has changed; the most popular reason now is to support better business decisions, as opposed to improving company reputation, customer satisfaction, or legal compliance.


But what businesses want and what they actually have are two completely different things. In an ideal world marketers would tap into demographic and behavioral details—buying patterns or purchase history—which they can access in real time to send personalized messages calibrated to elicit responses. “Few [marketers],” the study states, “have actually achieved this goal.” Yet businesses seem to be striving toward it. Experian QAS notes that 63 percent of businesses add demographic or behavioral information to their databases to enhance loyalty efforts or better target emails—the channel that, because of this personalization, Experian QAS predicts will be the most important marketing communications channel for 2013.

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