Spring cleaning is a time to clean the areas of your house that have been neglected for too long, get things organized and prepare for the summer ahead. Although it can be tedious, it’s an important task that often leaves you relieved and with a renewed sense of energy. But spring cleaning shouldn’t just be reserved for household chores. Now is also the perfect time to focus on your marketing data and ensure it’s as updated and organized as possible.
The importance of clean, accurate data is essential to the success of your direct marketing campaigns. Bad, or “dirty,” data can sabotage a lot of your hard work. Response rates can suffer when campaigns are delivered to the wrong address, or turn the recipient off by simply spelling their name wrong. Even worse, bad data can be truncated into something potentially offensive, affecting your company’s reputation or even ending up as bad press.
There are two different aspects to how we approach data cleansing. The first is purging old or unnecessary data. The other focus is on data sanitization and cleaning up what could potentially be considered bad data. Just like tossing household items you’ll no longer use and better organizing things you will, both data purging and data sanitation are important. Deleting old data can help ensure security (it can’t be stolen if it doesn’t exist), while data cleansing has the potential to improve your direct mail response rates. For example, I would be far more likely to respond to a letter that had my name spelled correctly, and I wouldn’t be able to respond at all if it was delivered to the wrong address.
Data Cleansing Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore
Spring cleaning is often a bear due to the months of buildup that precede it. Thankfully, data cleansing doesn’t have to be quite so labor intensive. Automated systems currently clean up certain folders automatically after a defined period of time. Data processors also routinely delete all unnecessary data files.
If you’re a current client of IWCO Direct, it’s important to know we use industry-leading enterprise CASS and NCOA certified software for address standardization efforts along with merge/purge and data parsing software. In addition, customized scripts can be built to provide deeper, unique cleansing steps to meet specific client needs or under certain circumstances.
Tips to Make Data Cleansing Easier and More Productive
If you’re not working with us, you’ll want to review important requirements with your production partners, such as the consistency of data inputs and defining standards for manual data entry. Here are five tips that will improve the accuracy of your data:
- Establish strict rules for data entry into distinct data fields. The quality of any database starts here with quality inputs.
- Keep internal databases current by updating them with any changes resulting from CASS and NCOA processing.
- Remove or flag records deemed undeliverable through the CASS and NCOA processing.
- Review your database for redundant records by passing data through a merge/purge process. Records could possibly be fully removed or moved into a single record from multiple entries.
- Audit the data! Randomly select records and look for known issues based on best practices you have developed internally.
Just like that sense of calm and accomplishment you feel once your spring cleaning is complete, you’ll feel ready to take on any direct marketing challenge once you know your data is updated and accurate. If you have any questions about best practices for data cleansing and its importance to your direct mail efforts, please drop me a line.
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