As email marketers wrestle with the challenges of harnessing Big Data, experts stress the importance of maintaining data quality for Big Data marketing efforts to succeed.
In its study on Big Data and marketing readiness (“Data-Rich and Insight Poor“), Yesmail warns that “trying to build a marketing campaign around outdated information is futile.”
For email campaigns, Yesmail says, “Dirty data can get you into trouble,” explaining that relying on outdated customer lists can lead to email ISP blacklisting and privacy complaints from consumers. This can cause even loyal and engaged customers to miss important messages that get blocked by spam filters.
Yesmail cites Forrester Research’s report “How Dirty Is Your Data?” as supporting its findings that too many companies are sitting on years of inactive files, a problem it calls “pervasive.”
Data Collection and Quality Control
While data collection has become much easier, performing quality control on that information
poses a much greater challenge, says Yesmail, explaining that “proper maintenance requires weekly or at least monthly updates.”
Unfortunately, Yesmail reports, more than 25 percent of marketers surveyed admitted that they do not know when they last performed quality control on their customer data,
Yesmail’s findings jibe with those of analyst David Raab who warns that, “Dirty data has its consequences-and they are not pretty.” It’s obvious, says Raab, that errors can prevent messages from being delivered and undermine the credibility of messages that get through.
Like Yesmail, Raab stresses the importance of performing regular data maintenance. “Data quality often receives little attention until a problem becomes painfully obvious,” says Raab, citing survey data that shows information deteriorates at a rate of 25 to 35 percent per year.
Marketing and sales departments need to correct this oversight, says Raab, by planning their data-quality efforts in advance and deploying them systematically.
Data Append and Other External Resources Can Help
As we have discussed, key uses of Big Data for email marketers are in gathering information to understanding the personas and buying habits of prospects and to trigger personalized responses to user activities with targeted emails. Experts recommend using demographic append services to obtain the data needed for creating customer profiles and segmenting prospects.
Raab advises marketers to use external services to validate and standardize data supplied by visitors and company systems and to enhance it without gathering additional data directly. “This provides a check on the accuracy of direct-gathered data, reduces the number of questions you must ask and may provide more information than you can get from direct sources alone,” he explains.
Raab also recommends looking for ways to reduce data errors during the data-entry process. This is where real-time email verification services can be deployed to verify data as it is being entered on web forms. Real-time demographic appending also can help supply important information for targeted marketing campaigns.
Raab’s views jibe with those of Experian QAS, which argues that, in order to improve data accuracy, businesses need to eliminate human error, which Experian cites as the main cause of poor data quality. First identify data entry points, says Experian QAS, then utilize automated verification processes and incorporate technology that continues to clean information over time.
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