Damn Your Dirty Data

Jul 01, 2010 9:30 PM  By

I Keep My Postal Carrier in Good Shape with the number of catalogs she delivers to my house every day. I’m a frequent catalog shopper and a mail order industry marketer, so I look forward to my mail.

I recently received two versions of a catalog from a women’s athletic apparel merchant: a 100-page book and a 68-page version with the same cover. Presumably, one is a house file book and the other is a prospect version.

The mailer’s circulation manager no doubt worked on detailed plans to make sure she was targeting the right customer, with the appropriate expected contribution per catalog. Then she evidently turned to a large, well-known cooperative database for the names. And here’s where her plans fell apart.

She mailed the 100-page catalog to Jonathan Abrams at my address. Unfortunately there is no Jonathan Abrams at my address, and there never has been. (I’ve tried to remove this fictitious entity from my account at the co-op, but “Jonathan” keeps getting mailed.)

Worse yet for this merchant, the 68-page catalog was addressed to my 5-year-old daughter.

I lost some sleep over this one! As a catalog marketer, it makes me uneasy that all the work we do to target and segment our mailings is for naught if the data is inaccurate.

I’ll be keeping these catalogs as a reminder of the importance of data integrity. And if you work for a women’s athletic wear catalog and the catalogs described above sound familiar, I’d be happy to share more information with you.

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