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Brush and floss your data, and avoid a scary trip to the data dentist

Data is a valuable commodity in today’s digital age, but if you’re not careful, your data can become a trap.

An extensive contact list – containing contact information for lots of high-quality customers and prospects – can give you the impression that you’ve got a valuable asset ready to be monetized. And that may very well be true.

But that depends on the condition of the data. Data gets corrupted over time just like motor oil. And some of it is corrupted from the start. Sometimes people give you false e-mail addresses, or they enter data with wrong characters, or issues with casing, or wrong symbols.

The trap is laid for digital marketers who think they’re reaching far more people than they really are with their data. They might have hundreds of thousands of e-mail addresses, so every time they do a send they’re confidently assuming wide reach and high impact.

But some of the addresses were never keyed in correctly. Others are going to spam filters. Others are inactive and have been for years. And that’s before you get into data points like job titles, areas of interest and demographic information.

Data needs regular hygiene, just like teeth. And you know perfectly well that when you go the dentist, it’s much less difficult if you’ve been brushing and flossing.

There are things you can do on an ongoing basis to keep your data healthy and cavity-free. Some of it can be done by software you can purchase. Our purpose here is not to recommend a particular product, but rather to point out some outcomes you want to achieve to keep your data healthy.

Here are a few:

Standardize. There are data cleaners that can apply standardization rules to change “.cm” to “.com” and get rid of things like case issues and mistyped symbols. This can help you salvage otherwise good data that’s just suffering from a bad keystroke or two.

Purge bad information. Simply pinging an e-mail address can tell you if it’s still active and can still receive messages. There are other strategies for cleaning your list of bad data. You’re not doing yourself any good sending to bad addresses, no matter how much you like seeing that big long list of names.

Ensure you’re in CAN-SPAM compliance. Not only will this keep you in good stead legally, it will also keep you out of spam filters and protect your reputation as a sender.

Be careful about false information. How much data do you really need to collect? Some people enter false information if you ask them for too much, and that can corrupt the entire data set. Think critically about which input fields are really necessary.

Ensure your data delivers the value it should. Take care of it. Brush and floss it today and you won’t have to fear any stressful trips to the data dentist.

Data Hygiene

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