Over time, businesses that actively use data accumulate a lot of information. Without proper maintenance, that information eventually grows outdated, corrupted or inaccurate — in other words: dirty. On the other hand, clean data is accurate, well-maintained, and up-to-date. It is complete, consistent and does not have duplications.

Why do you want clean data?

Clean data provides high-quality prospect or customer information for analysis. Your collected data helps you make marketing decisions and guides your planning and targeting, so you reach the audience that will be best motivated by your messaging. Improved data quality also increases productivity, as your team will not waste valuable time with obsolete or dated intelligence. If your data is bad, your marketing efforts will also be subpar. This can damage your reputation and negatively impact your promotions.

Dirty data is also expensive. Imagine running a direct mail campaign based on the corrupted records in your database. Any errors due to outdated information (people moving, changing jobs, etc.) will cost you time, printing fees, handling, and postage. Not to mention the opportunity costs: Unclean data means that you’re probably not reaching the right audience.

Cleaning your data

You’ll want to perform a data audit to help you identify the types of problems you face. As a team (or on your own if you are a team of one), determine the criteria that indicate data cleaning is needed. What are your goals and expectations? What are your data quality performance indicators? Then comes the hard part: reviewing all your data to look for discrepancies or errors.

Unfortunately, cleaning your data is not a one-and-done proposition. Because the data you collect is used in ongoing marketing efforts, you’ll need to regularly assess the collected information in your database for quality and accuracy. Positive marketing outcomes depend on one significant assumption: that your data is clean.

Maintaining your data

Once you’ve eliminated discrepancies and errors from your data, you’ll want to put measures in place to prevent you from ending up in this situation again. An essential step is establishing protocols to ensure your organization has a healthy data hygiene program in place for the future.

Dirty data usually begins when it is first input, so start by standardizing what a record looks like when it enters your database. To avoid future duplicates in your system, check whether there is an existing record in your database for each new one added. You will also need to complete database records and validate them for accuracy. While this can be a laborious step to perform manually, you can find many types of additional details by reviewing sites such as LinkedIn and Google My Business. You may also want to consider third-party software tools that can help you with validation and record completion. 

Cheers to clean data

Putting great data cleaning and management practices in place gives marketers peace of mind that they are targeting the right people in the right way. A data-management system boosts ROI and improves your credibility. With this in mind, take steps now to get your databases ready for a successful new year.

Once your data is ready to go, send us a message to see how we can reach your audience where they are through direct mail, handouts, promotional materials and more!

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