For today’s marketer, information truly is power.
The wealth of data available to us thanks to online platforms, technology and consumer use is staggering—and incredibly useful in building personalized, relevant marketing programs that drive engagement.
But more data in and of itself doesn’t necessarily translate to better marketing. Unless your customer data is constantly and effectively managed, it not only becomes a less effective resource—it can actually inhibit your lead generation efforts.
As your database grows, so does the number of errors within it. In fact, it’s estimated that anywhere from 10% to 25% of a company’s database contains critical errors.
When your database is full of everything from outdated addressing and demographic information to faulty processing and invoicing information, you add stress to your staff, deadlines and budget. And you risk spinning your wheels creating marketing you believe is targeted and refined, but continues to produce weak response again and again.
Maintaining a clean database takes work—but it’s the key to generating qualified leads across channels and tactics.
1. Data Hygiene
Bad data can kill even the best marketing campaign. So cleaning up your database is step one. Start by performing an audit to get a handle on the current state of your data. This will help you understand the types of erroneous information that’s creeping into your system and brainstorm the best strategy to address it.
Next, move on to purging opt-outs, duplicate records and invalid addresses. Seeing a quarter of your prospects disappear may hurt at first—until you realize the time, effort and money that will no longer be wasted on them.
Finally, if you’re merging data from third-party sources, you’ll want to normalize fields to avoid variations in how data is represented. Set up filters and forms that make it easy to keep data clean and consistent. Using forms with drop down menus rather than free entry formats can reduce the number of variables in your customer data—not to mention the human error—that often lead to inconsistencies, duplications and mistakes.
2. Data Appending
Once your in-house database is nice and tidy, it’s time to fill in the gaps. Data appending takes your data hygiene to the next level.
By matching your existing customer database against external consumer and business data lists, data appending completes and verifies much of your individual customer information. Any typos, postal inconsistencies, email address errors and the like can be further cleaned up.
More important, by using multiple sources, data appending can deliver additional information for each customer—from email addresses and phone numbers to job titles, birthdays, income and more.
3. Data Profiling
While data appending offers a more robust picture of the customers in your database, data profiling focuses in on who they truly are and how they behave. You may think you know your best customers, but data profiling will tell you for sure.
Profiling reveals the demographic or firmographic attributes of your best customers, and gives a market penetration index of those attributes between your best customers and the overall population in the same geographic area.
Data insights gained by profiling allow you to better segment your data, so you can target your marketing efforts on your most profitable customers and best lookalike audiences—creating more effective acquisition campaigns, cross-sell promotions, loyalty programs and more.
Keeping a clean database isn’t a “once and done” exercise. It’s an ongoing process of continual maintenance. If that seems like a lot of work, well—it is. But consider this: to convert a single customer, the average marketing campaign needs to drum up 143 leads. Companies with best-in-class data management practices need only 68 leads to get the sale.
In short, cleaner data leads to better targeted campaigns, lower costs and bigger revenues—as well as more leads, more prospects and more satisfied customers.
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