The ABC’s of Data Quality…A for Accuracy

By definition, “accuracy” is the quality or state of being correct or precise.

Marketers need “accuracy” to know who their customers are, their behaviors, needs, and preferences. Combining records from different sources requires resolving identities. Data quality is essential for identity resolution which is needed to create a unified view of customers. Inaccurate data creates challenges for matching records, consolidating information, creating customer profiles, and personalizing marketing initiatives.

Bad data has a significant impact to companies’ bottom lines – potentially costing millions of dollars in revenue annually.

Numerous, disparate sources and decay are the primary challenges for inaccurate data. The question becomes what can marketers do to increase the accuracy of their data?

As the number of sources increases, it can be challenging to standardize or pair data elements. Focusing on individual name and address, there are ways to ensure the accuracy of each of these core components of the customer record.

1 ) Individual Name

With the ever-increasing use of names for personalization across channels, marketers need to be confident in properly identifying titles, first names, and last names.  “Name parsing” programmatically analyzes data elements to properly identify and isolate Title (Mr. Mrs. Ms., etc.), Suffix (Jr., Sr, II, III), First Name, Middle Name/Initial and Last Name.

Another benefit of parsing is the ability to associate nicknames for matching purposes so “James Smith” at 123 Main Street and “Jim Smith” at 123 Main Street are recognized as duplicates, an integral part of accuracy. 

Distinguishing and overcoming common typos of first names like HRWARD -> HOWARD, TMO – > TOM, etc. aid in duplicate identification as well.  As do identifying and leverage married/maiden names with, or without hyphens like Mary A. Wooden Jones.

Unidentified, but avoidable duplicates lead to wasted marketing dollars.

2 ) Mailing Address

Millions of consumers change their address each year with multiple moves throughout their lifetime. How is a marketer to keep track of current versus previous addresses for such a mobile society?

Fortunately, there are multiple solutions available that should be a part of every marketer’s “toolkit”.

  • Address Standardization is a process designed to verifying addresses against a list of all known deliverable postal addresses in the United States. A requirement for direct mail, this certified process normalizes address information, updates outdated addresses, and verifies that addresses are valid and complete. In addition, it corrects or appends ZIP,  ZIP+4, and Carrier Route codes to help with postage optimization
  • Change of Address – is a valuable solution to modify addresses for businesses, individuals and families that have relocated and filed the move with the postal service. Marketers can enlist a licensed provider to regularly postal addresses where available, maintaining the all-important connection to the customer. Many providers offer 18- month option, and a select group provide 48-month change of addresses.

    While the national postal Change of Address is a valuable resource for marketers, the truth is not all individuals or families that move each year complete the necessary registration to record that move and be included on that file. An additional opportunity to identify new addresses for these individuals and families is through a P.C.O.A, or Proprietary Change of Address file.  This solution gathers data from sources such as utilities, magazines, banks, credit card companies and more allowing marketers, by running any non-updated records through a secondary process, to capture additional change of address data for their customers.

Marketers have at their disposal a wide range of licensed and proprietary solutions to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the customer’s name and address information – two key components of identity resolution and personalization.  These solutions should be utilized on a regularly scheduled basis to ensure that accuracy is maintained over the long term.

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