DATA INTEGRITY: HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH RELIABLE DATA
Data is more accessible than ever and as well all know—data is king. Having powerful targeted data for your customers and potential customers is a powerful tool if it’s accurate.
Far too often businesses make the mistake of accumulating troves of data without much thought of whether or not it’s of quality.
Without data integrity, the information you have on your customers and potentials can be viewed as a diminished resource. Businesses must factor in things like human error, time, and the software/systems being used as things that can impact the integrity of your data. If the information is inconsistent or even inaccurate, it can have a negative impact on your next marketing campaign and could even affect the relationship you have with current customers.
In fact, a study done by the Harvard Business Review revealed that bad data costs United States businesses $3 trillion per year. With just a few of the practices we’ll be discussing in this article, that number could significantly decrease.
Another study, done by Forbes, noted that 84% of CEOs are “concerned about the quality of the data they’re basing their decisions on.”
For more statistics, take a look at this image based on a study done by Ringlead:
As you know, gathering data is an important step in keeping your customers happy. You track their behaviors, collect email addresses, and have every metric you can think of on them.
Each metric is a different piece of the puzzle of who your customer is—how you can target them with future or existing products. Without these metrics being reliable, it could leave your company at a pretty large disadvantage.
When the information is inconsistent or inaccurate you lose your advantage. You might make poor or even the wrong decision when it comes to your customers all because your data wasn’t verified for integrity.
You may have experienced this already with customers giving you incorrect information. Whether not entering it wrong on your contact form, intentionally giving an incorrect email address, or not updating their information with you after a change, the customer is not always perfect either.
With time, people get new jobs, move locations, get new email addresses, and even their consumer habits change—and you have to have the data that can keep up with that or you’ll fall behind.
Let’s take a look at how you can do that by ensuring the integrity of your data.
Data Integrity Maintenance
To help ensure data accuracy, companies must have several protocols put in place if the data is going to be reliable at all. You might have to look at new ways of acquiring data, or how you read and record the data you’ve gathered. You have to make sure all your systems work flawlessly together and that there’s foolproof bookkeeping of customer data. And you have to make sure it’s all protected. Here are a few steps to doing just that:
If you don’t have an accurate recording, you can bet the information you’re pushing to customers won’t be effective in the slightest.
Most companies nowadays use automated tools to collect data and as long as these are updated and maintained regularly that should be fine. However, for any data, such as information received over the phone, for instance, employees must be trained effectively on how to record this data accurately. You should also ensure that data given in this manner is restricted only to those trained employees and no one else can step in for a lunch break or something. One weak link can undo weeks of hard work.
Having a regular audit is a great way to ensure your employees are recording information effectively and accurately. Be sure to also find out if your automated tools are being audited from time to time as well.
It’s always best practice to verify new data that’s come in. If you receive an email address from a customer, you need to make sure it’s correct or you can end up in a hard or soft bounce situation.
There’s always a chance, too, that a customer might call you from a secondary phone number or contact you via another email address. There needs to be a system in place where you can associate these secondary items with the same customer to eliminate duplicate or redundant marketing.
Using an email validation tool that cleans your email list of invalid or incorrect addresses is a great way to verify new information before it gets added into your database and you get a kickback from your mailing client that that email didn’t go through.
In the same study mentioned above done by Ringlead, companies can save about $8.5 million by just cleaning their records. Take a look at the graph supplied by them:
Data integrity just doesn’t apply to new data—your old data needs to be sorted through and cleaned on a regular basis as well. The accuracy of data can diminish over time, duplicates can happen, information can change and you must be on top of it. Even trained employees make mistakes—heck even computers do.
There’s never a bad time to clean your list of data.
Being smart with your data gives you an edge over your competitors. Using data verification services and perfecting the way you gather and record your data will put you in the driver’s seat.