There are a number of important incentives to making sure your customer data is current and accurate. Mainly, sending email or direct mail to an address that isn’t “live” is a waste of resources. But there are other compelling reasons as well. Bad data, for instance, can skew your response calculations. If 10 percent of your data is out of date, your response rate will be 10 percent lower than it should be, giving you an inaccurate picture of your campaign’s effectiveness.Data hygiene: The subject of keeping your data current and accurate is generally referred to as data hygiene, and the specific act of comparing lists and removing bad data is called cleansing or scrubbing — these terms also cover the removal of duplicate information, which can be as bad for your lists as any other type of inaccuracy.
The approach you take to data hygiene depends largely on the size of your database. Like any chore, it tends to get more challenging the longer you leave it. Smaller chunks of data are obviously more manageable than larger blocks. Here are some basic principles to keep in mind:
Honor unsubscribe requests promptly: It is your legal responsibility to act on unsubscribe requests in a timely fashion — it will also help you maintain your status as a legitimate marketer in the eyes of your customers.
Keep track of bounces: A bounce, also called a Non-Delivery Report/Receipt (NDR), Delivery Status Notification (DSN) or Non-Delivery Notification (NDN), is an automated reply telling you that you have sent a message to an invalid email address. These could be the result of people changing jobs or names, mistyping addresses, or merely shuttering and consolidating email addresses. If you get a bounce from a regular or long-standing contact, follow up with them if possible to update your records at your earliest opportunity.
Newer records are more trustworthy than older ones: When you are prioritizing which records to verify, start with the oldest ones first. In terms of data hygiene, data older than three to six months can be considered old. Commercial addresses tend to turn over faster than those belonging to private individuals.
Keep records complete and consistent: Making sure data is in a consistent format when you gather it will help make it easier to verify later.
Plan ahead and schedule: Make data cleansing part of your campaign timeline so it doesn’t get rushed or skipped. Staggering campaigns that are directed to specific segments of your list, and approaching data cleansing in the same fashion can help keep the task manageable.
Chiefbusinessmarketer.com offers some tips on keeping B-to-B data clean.
How do you know what kind of data you should keep?
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