Errors in your database of customers and/or prospective customers are causing you to waste time and money on your direct marketing campaigns. Such errors can range from invalid postal and email addresses or phone numbers to duplicate records on a single person, each of which containing partial information about that person. And if your database includes information people provide themselves via web forms, bad data is even more likely. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve the quality of your marketing data and thereby improve the return on your marketing investment.
Bad data in your marketing database can affect your marketing results in several ways. The most obvious problem, of course, is prospects never receiving your offer, because of email or postal address errors. Less apparent is how duplicate records can affect your campaigns. This problem arises when you segment your data for a campaign. For example, you might wish to send an offer only to those persons who have requested at least two white papers from your web site. If the same person requests papers during two different visits and if that person therefore appears in your database twice, you won’t include him in the campaign, because each of his records will show only one white paper request.
One of the most notorious sources of bad marketing data is the web form a prospect completes in order to get something for free from your business. Unfortunately, people sometimes lie to web forms. You might have even done it yourself. You didn’t want to get a sales call from a company, so you entered an invalid phone number. Or, you might have committed an honest typographical error on your email address. Honest errors or not, the result is bad data going into someone’s marketing database.
If you haven’t already checked every record in your existing database for duplicates and errors, that’s the best place to start. If you have a small database, one staff member with good eyes can do wonders. For each record, check the area code and phone number to see if it agrees with the postal address. Check the email address for correct format (i.e. user@domain, with the “@” in the proper place). Check the domain portion of the email address (i.e. the “market2lead.com” part) to see if that domain is actually registered. Check the postal (ZIP) code against the city and state. Web sites exist at which you can look up such telephone, email and postal information. Once you’re completed all these checks, confirm that the same data does not appear in more than one record. If it does, consolidate duplicate records into single, more complete records.