To Use Your Marketing Data Efficiently, Make Sure It’s Accurate

By Megan Allinson, BKM Integrated Marketing Director 

How clean is your data? It’s an important question, but one that doesn’t often get addressed — at least not at the frequency necessary. According to a recent Dimensional Research study for Fivetran, 82% of companies currently make decisions based on “stale” data. Not ideal, especially with the amount of data created and collected continuing to rise. A recent survey from SnapLogic seems to back this up, finding that 91% of IT decision makers feel data quality improvements are needed in their organizations. Marketing, among other departments, can benefit from accurate data.


Take customer communications, for example. Inaccurate data is a significant drain on marketing budgets. Marketing assets are already expensive enough to produce. If they don’t reach the right audience, spend is wasted and results are impacted negatively. For example, when I moved out of Boston, I didn’t notify every company I’d ever done business with. After the forwarding window had passed, I no longer received product or trade-in promotions related to companies I had relationships with. The address on file wasn’t current, but a little “cleaning” with the help of the National Change of Address (or NCOA) database would’ve corrected this problem.


Another perfect example of stale or inaccurate data was when I received two of the same marketing pieces on the same day addressed to the previous homeowners, who are now deceased. To make this worse, I’ve lived at this address for over eight years now. In the eyes of consumers, these kinds of missteps can send the message that you, the marketer, don’t know them. You’re just spraying out messaging in the hopes that someone will bite. It’s not a good use of spend, data, or list quality, particularly when the likelihood is a single purchase from a household.


Additionally, marketing with stale or inaccurate data can suppress responses. If you’re sending direct mail or email offers to the wrong addresses, you’re likely targeting irrelevant audiences. Very few of the intended recipients see the correspondences, which leads to fewer calls or sales and could even damage your brand’s reputation due to wrongly targeted outreach.


Accurate data is key to scaling your marketing efficiently, as almost all decisions are becoming more reliant on your understanding of the target customer.


Ensuring Long-Term Data Quality


Fortunately, reversing the impact of inaccurate data is often easier than you think. The following are two quick ways to clean your data and ensure its accuracy for the long term:


1. Validate data at every step.

Someone within your organization should be vetting and validating customer information regularly. Otherwise, you’ll be corresponding with people who have no real interest in your product or service. For direct mail campaigns, the NCOA database is a good place to start.


The same can be said for your customers themselves. Go directly to the source and ask existing customers to review and verify the information on file. Then, it’s just a matter of updating lists to ensure quality. For any legal-related mailings, however, you’ll also need to get permission from customers to update their addresses and contact information.


If you’re still questioning the accuracy of your data, consider sending it out to be appended with the most up-to-date information. This extra step ensures the removal of deceased customers, which can do more than help maximize marketing spend. With your brand’s reputation on the line, it’s best not to leave consumers feeling upset over any marketing efforts.


2. Refresh your data.

Refreshing your owned or rented data might sound like a tall order, but it can be a necessity when running acquisition campaigns or marketing to prospect lists. For example, in the B2B space, data decays at a rate of about 70% per year. This means that if you aren’t updating your client list, then you are sending the wrong message to the wrong person 7 out of 10 times. If you’ve previously purchased a list, it’s often a good idea to see if it can be refreshed prior to launch.


To be on the safe side, it’s also recommended to rent the list for use during short periods. Rented lists generally promise good deliverability rates, as the contact information is always fresh. A good deliverability rate is typically anywhere from 85% to 95%. If you are not hitting that, then make sure to refresh the file based on your targeting parameters. For example, if you own a retirement community, date of birth would be a suitable targeting parameter.


To take the retirement example a step further, if the community is for active seniors, you’d want to add another layer to the parameters by messaging only seniors with certain active lifestyle interests. This will ensure you’re maximizing your budget and not tarnishing your response by reaching out to the right segment — at the right address, of course.


Inaccurate data has been a problem ever since marketers began using consumer information, and it will likely get even worse as the amount of data continues to pile up. It has been estimated that from 2020 to 2023, the world will have created just as much (if not more) data as in the past 30 years. So, it’s more important than ever to institute data quality standards for your organization to ensure you’re able to reach the right people and maximize your marketing spend.

About the Author

Megan Allinson brings over 15 years of strategic marketing experience to BKM Marketing. As the Integrated Marketing Director, Megan partners with clients to develop and execute their marketing communication plans and strategies to deliver against identified business and marketing challenges and objectives.