Clean Your Database
A good list-hygiene strategy can help ensure that your increasingly costly promotions will reach only those people who are actually at the address to which you’re mailing and can help you avoid sending duplicate catalogs.
Today, many catalogers use state-of-the-art models and have invested millions of dollars in operating systems that generate data used to run their businesses. But keep in mind that these models and data will be only as good and dependable as the customer information loaded onto them.
Andrew Kapochunas, leader of business development and strategy for sales and marketing solutions at Dun & Bradstreet, notes that data hygiene now is the No. 1 priority for many marketers—especially those who thought that by merely loading legacy data into customer relationship management systems, their data would automatically become accurate and updated.
How to Begin
• Revisit the rules you’ve put in place internally for data entry, and schedule a refresher course for employees. Recognize and reward those staffers who consistently follow the data rules. Do the same for vendors and partners who process your data.
• Ask your internal information technology group to develop a daily report that shows changes made to the database and who is making them. This will help you keep better track of alterations made to your list.
• Standardize your data, so the same types of data consistently appear in the same place. You can expect a better match of your database to compiled lists or large databases when you standardize data.
• If you can’t afford to clean your entire file, start with your best customers. Many people complain about the high cost of cleaning data, notes Ruth Stevens, president, eMarketing Strategy, “But an investment in your very best customers always pays off.”
• Review the names and addresses that don’t match once you’ve achieved the highest number of matches you can. They may be “suspects”—records suspected of being inaccurate. You now can establish a program for cleaning them up.