By Francis Wallinger, managing director, Alchemetrics
Any marketer using customer information to invigorate their campaigns will be aware of the perpetual problem of ‘dirty data’. By its very nature data will decay and become inaccurate over time, and unless this issue is addressed, will ultimately have a negative and damaging impact on data-driven marketing activity.
Having been in the data industry for more years than I care to remember, I can vouch for the fact that there are many comprehensive and competent solutions on offer; and even more marketers willing to talk up these solutions, whilst simultaneously bemoaning the many problems poor data quality can lead to.
In fact marketers moan about data quality to such an extent that, and I say this with the greatest of respect to the marketing community at large (me included on the odd occasion), we’re all beginning to sound like the proverbial ‘record on repeat’.
It’s obvious that poor quality data will mean campaign investment is wasted, that it can lead to irreparable brand damage through poor targeting, is annoying to consumers, can have unfathomed implications in ongoing CRM strategies, and acts as another barrier to ever achieving the much lauded ‘single customer view’.
You’re all absolutely right in your observations; they’re just the same observations as have been made before, year in year out.
But incongruous to this is the simple fact that cutting corners with data hygiene routines goes hand in hand with economic instability. Recent events, and the threat of recession, have meant an understandable tug on the reigns when it comes to marketing expenditure.
But any brand or marketer thinking data quality should be the first thing to be compromised as a result is making a grave mistake.
In fact now is the ideal time for marketers, and any brand that has a customer database, to take affirmative action in the war against dirty data.
Instead of bemoaning an unstable economy and using this as a reason to skimp on data quality investment, marketers should use this time of financial pressure as a positive catalyst to improving the way they work with data.
Recession will no doubt continue to have an impact on the marketing community, but the side effect of this pressure – namely that every discipline is being challenged to justify invested budget – should be seen as an incentive for improvement.
Even at the best of times marketers are required to justify where and why precious budget has been channelled; a necessity made even more valid during tough trading conditions. Justification for investing in data-driven marketing comes from the ability to demonstrate ROI through the quality and validity of the data being used.
It figures then that to continue to secure marketing investment, we need to examine and markedly improve the way we source and maintain contact data – right now.
Data is an investment just like any other. And trying to cut corners or ignoring issues like quality and duplication is only false economy in the long run.
Of course, there are many ‘off the shelf’ approaches and techniques on offer, as well as bespoke solutions and consultative advice which can be sought to address this problem.
But beyond these obvious steps it’s also vital that marketers work smarter, not harder, and use this time to truly innovate and improve the way customer data is captured, managed and used, so brands can truly achieve a return on their data investment.
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