The clear case for data hygiene

Any company dealing with data recognizes data’s importance. As a source for providing customer information, data performs as a multiplying force, supplying businesses with the valuable customer details that create valid customers. But data has a downside, when it’s not as “clean” as it might be—taking on traits of duplication, inconsistencies, and other flaws that can cloud an information system. Unclean data compromises a company’s bottom line as it imperils revenue overall. When your marketing and sales professionals are forced to swim upstream in the face of unclean data, they risk making decisions that are under-informed, and perhaps not as thorough as they might be. This ends up costing the business money, unnecessarily.

How Best to Tackle the Nuisance of Unclean Data?

Assessing the situation is a good way to start, as marketing managers have no idea just how much of their data might be in danger of being compromised. A viable first step is to examine your data, determine its quality and mount a realistic approach to determine just how big your particular problem might be.

Be thorough. Investigate every system from which your company needs to harvest critical customer info you have on hand, and discern which fields of data input are the most important. If you gather too much “stuff,” you risk duplication, information overload, and the creation of a hotbed for unclean data. You naturally want to get as much information as possible on your customer base, but if your input is irrelevant, you’re not going to convert leads… or advance sales.

While you’re auditing systems, make sure you’re mindful of all platforms that are used to collect data from your customers. Pay attention to entities like surveys, registrations for webinars and white paper download forms. Keep a mindful eye on which information is absolutely necessary. If you request too much information of your customers too early in the buying dance, those customers may be tempted to be less than truthful in an attempt to safeguard their anonymity. Too, if your forms show an excessive number of inputs, those customers will be tempted to zip through the process of submission, and perhaps provide faulty information. In either case, you ramp up your chances of arriving at unclean data.

The Importance of Standardization.

Neglecting standardization invites an infestation of unclean data, so it’s important to determine which input fields should be considered for the process.

As a general rule, monetary figures, all numbers, and other nominal entities should be converted, to provide representation that is consistent. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, get rid of case sensitivity, and normalize spelling according to a single, well-recognized dictionary. Watch abbreviations. Make sure your adherence to standardization applies to both internal systems and those of the customer-facing variety.

Remember to keep in mind what safeguards can be implemented to discourage unclean data. Determine which fields can be made mandatory, and establish range constraints to bar users from entering junk values. Ask if input values can be required to conform to a certain type of data.
When you can ensure that data is entered with consistency, you cut the risk of dealing with unclean data.

It’s Vital to Update Your Data As Often As Possible.

Keeping an eye on your data keeps it fresh.  Address changes, promotions and other job shifts within an organization, adding new phone numbers, and other maneuvers can help erode what you thought was a workable set of data as it applies to specific customers. Data can deteriorate—and become unclean—rapidly, and cause you to misdirect messages, or miss their delivery completely. When you use third-party tools in real-time to stay ahead of your contact records, you stop chasing dead-end leads as you maintain customer confidence, and reinforce the reality that you’re looking after their best interests. It’s a win-win for all parties.

The Professionals at nSightful are experts at untangling the complications that can cause unclean data. Our proven Data Hygiene systems enhance your customer database with demographics and increase the performance of your marketing efforts. Our ConsumerVision file, for instance, consists of 230 million individuals and 150 million households nationwide; matching your customer file against our database will allow your company to market more effectively—and increase your bottom line.

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