Data Laundry – Improving the integrity and Accuracy of Your Data (Part 1)

This two-part blog series addresses the similarities between cleaning your dirty laundry and instituting a master data quality strategy.
Man working on data materials at his desk

This two-part blog series addresses the similarities between cleaning your dirty laundry and instituting a master data quality strategy. 

Regular washing of laundry helps to remove any potential contaminants that can cause health issues and ensures the cleanliness and stability of fabrics. Similarly, a master data quality initiative aims to address the long-term integrity of a company’s customer data by focusing on  accuracy, completeness, consistency, relevancy, validity, and timeliness. Clean, actionable data allows your brand to provide better customer experiences.

Sorting and Preparing 

Names, addresses, promotional history, transactions, account numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, financial, digital and more tend to exist in numerous places throughout organizations. The first step is to identify and categorize all disparate data sources

Just like sorting your laundry into colors and whites, it is important to sort and prepare your data assets. Not taking the time to properly sort and prepare data results in budget and project timeline overruns, as well as disjoined data which can impact business decisions and ultimately the customer’s experience with your brand.

Next the process of “sorting and preparing” looks to answer questions such as:

  • What are the internal datasets that should be included?
  • What 3rd party or external data sources should be included?
  • What data elements are available? 
  • How complete is the data? Is data missing that needs to be supplemented?
  • What frequencies of each of the datasets, internal or external, are available?
  • How is the data being updated/maintained/stored? 
  • Who is responsible for each dataset (IT, marketing, finance, etc.)?

These questions are only a few of the ones that should be asked as part of a data discovery phase. It is a critical step that should not be overlooked. When done properly, it produces a more cost effective, timely outcome with actionable data as the end result.  

Choosing the Right Detergent (Processes, Protocols, and Procedures) 

Liquid, powdered, fragrance free, with bleach or color safe – the detergent options to fit your laundry needs can seem overwhelming.  This can also be the case when selecting options for your data quality initiatives.

There is an exponential growth of data sources available to B2C and B2B marketers in the industry today. As a direct result, marketers are required to carefully evaluate a variety of processes, protocols, and procedures in order to achieve the desired result of actionable and reliable data.

Data quality service providers give marketers access to licensed and proprietary products. to cleanse and enhance their data sources.

Some of the licensed products marketers should consider include:

  • Change of Address – Preferably 48-month (full service) 
  • CASS Certification – Updates Your Data with The Proper City, State, Zip, Zip+4
  • Prison / Correctional Institution Identification
  • Deceased Individual Identification
  • Direct Marketing Association Do Not Mail Registry
  • National and State Do Not Call Registries
  • Demographic Data Enhancement – Income, Presence of Children, Occupation, Lifestyle, etc.
  • Firmographic Data Enhancement – SIC Codes, # of Employees, Sales Volume, etc.

Service providers also offer proprietary solutions to marketers which may include:

  • Data Transformation/Normalization
  • Enhanced Change of Address beyond 48-month licensed file 
  • Address Quality Index – Scoring algorithm to rank address deliverability
  • Data Element Profiling – Particularly useful when cleansing B2B data that includes departments, titles, etc.
  • Duplicate Record Identification – Look for service provider to support the intricacies of both B2C and B2B data
  • Best Kept Record Scoring – Allows for most complete record to be selected when consolidating duplicates
  • Profanity Suppression – Screening of individual fields for presence of profanity for suppression purposes

When considering all options available to you, a combination of licensed and proprietary products should be utilized to insure clean, actionable data that will allow you to provide better multi-channel customer experiences.Once you have determined the proper detergent (processes, protocols and procedures) for your data, you need to determine how often you need to “wash your laundry”, or in data management terms, institute a scheduled hygiene process to ensure the quality of your data.  We will learn more about that in the next installment of this series. Stay tuned!

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