10 Ways to Ready Your Data for Direct Marketing

The following is excerpted from Highlands Ranch, CO-based database marketing company Dovetail.

The vital prospect and client data necessary to create a successful marketing campaign can be found throughout your organization. However, is all of your data accurate, trustworthy and actionable for your direct marketing campaigns? Is all of your data in one place so it is easy to access? Has your data been validated, standardized and corrected? There are 10 data processes you should consider performing to ensure your direct marketing campaigns will be conducted accurate and efficient data.

These consist of the following.

1. Data integration All of your pertinent direct marketing data regardless of the source from which the data originates must be integrated into one single data repository for the purpose of direct marketing. Without proper data integration, it is difficult or impossible to run counts, pull lists, perform analysis, and track campaign history all of which are essential to meet basic marketing campaign needs.

2. Value validation As new records are added to your marketing database, value checks should be performed to identify data that may be invalid. For instance, if gender values should only be “F” and “M”, but a “1” and “2” are present in the gender field, these latter values are invalid and need to be corrected.

3. Distribution validation As new records are added to your marketing database, a comparison between the distribution of values for the current update and previous updates should be performed to ensure the data is accurate. For instance, if it is typical for 15% of customers to buy a certain product, but 45% have purchased that product in a given update, the data violates a distributive norm and needs to be verified and, if applicable, corrected.

4. Relationship validation As new records are added to your marketing database, they need to be checked for internal consistency against the existing database. For instance, if part of the new data consists of “cancelled customers,” a check needs to be performed against the database to ensure these are in fact current customers. If they do not show up as current customers in the existing database, internal consistency of the data is compromised and needs to be corrected.

5. Contact information standardization Applying standardization techniques to your marketing database helps to ensure the contact information is accurate. For instance, in a street address, the word “Ave” can be stated as “av,” “av.,” or “avenue”. Postal address standardization software will replace all of these values with “Ave”, based on conformance to U.S. Postal Service standards. Similar standardization should be performed on phone numbers and e-mail addresses. By performing standardization, you increase the likelihood of reaching the individuals you are targeting in your marketing campaigns.

6. Identify marketing levels-individuals, households, residences, and businesses Identifying and omitting duplicate records in your marketing database ensures an individual is only contacted once with a marketing campaign. This step is also known as merge/purge and can be used to identify unique individuals, households, residences or, in the case of b-to-b marketing, unique businesses.

7. National Change of Address (NCOA) The NCOA process identifies new movers and updates their street addresses in your data-eliminating many undeliverables and ensuring that your addresses are up-to-date.

8. Delivery point validation (DPV) The DPV process compares and validates street addresses against the master United States Postal Service database to ensure the postal addresses exist as specific delivery points within the postal system.

9. Browse data A fundamental data check is to simply look through your data verifying that all the information is complete, is in the appropriate place and looks valid. You’ll be surprised how often this step helps identify issues with your data.

10. Basic intuition check Another fundamental data check is to follow your instincts. Who knows your data as well as you? It pays off to follow your intuition and check into any items that just don’t seem right. Performing each of these steps before each direct marketing campaign is good. However, performing them as part of routine processes is even better and performing them as part of an integrated marketing database solution is the best. You will need to decide which option is most sensible for your organization. In any case, having validated, standardized and corrected data is essential to driving revenue, decreasing costs and optimizing the performance of your direct marketing campaigns.

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