Duplicate contacts, misspelled names, missing address fields, and incorrect information are data mishaps that will throw a wrench in the works of your marketing and sales efforts. Your direct mailing campaign is only as effective as the data you collect and use.
Here are five tips to clean up the quality of your data:
Remove Inconsistent Data Entries
There are tools to help you remove duplicate data. If you’ve never done a de-duplication before, you’ll also need to manually scan and edit your contacts.
This step will obviously take some time, but if you implement a company-wide data entry standard system and make a commitment to quality data, you will only have to do this once.
Use data validation tools that help you to determine the validity of your data, such as email verification tools. Google has resources to use to do this.
Use Excel’s functions to clean your data, Excel’s support pages have a wealth of knowledge to do this. Their guides will walk you through finding and replacing spelling errors, unintentional upper or lower case letters, fixing dates and times, and deduping.
Verify All New Data
It’s important to always verify new data entries with existing databases. This can be done by using a three-point data check system to verify all new and updated data before it enters the central database. For example, these three points can be Name, Phone Number, and Email. You can do this by sorting your data by columns or doing a find search. By verifying data during data entry you not only keep lists current but you reduce adding duplicate contacts as well.
Keep Your Data Fresh
All databases degrade over time. Some estimate that data degrades at an average of 5% or more each year. This is due to factors such as contacts changing email addresses, clients contacts dropping out of the picture or contacts moving on to different opportunities or moving locations. To keep your data fresh remove all emails that have bounced or opted-out and update contact addresses when receiving your returned to sender direct mailings. Not only is this a good practice for keeping your data fresh, but it also helps keep you out of spam folders and lowers return to sender rates.
Implement Consistent Data Entry
Ensure that all employees are aware of your company-wide data entry standards. By standardizing data entry company-wide, the databases will stay current and clean. When inputting each customer record make sure to have first and last names, mailing addresses, and email addresses in separate columns. That way, when you do the three-point check, contacts will be easy to find in your database.
Organizing Column Fields
When organizing your data make sure that each column has an appropriate header and that addresses are broken up so that suites and floors all have their own column. For example:
123 ABC Road, 4th Floor should not look like this in one column
Address 1 Address 2
123 ABC Road, 4th Floor (Wrong)
123 ABC Road (Wrong)
123 ABC Road (Correct) 4th Floor (Correct)
When in doubt double check with your printer to see how they would like your data separated for mail and variable processing. The cleaner the data the better. Also avoid adding carriage returns and unnecessary spacing to your lists, both of these can cause errors in mail processing and variable data processing, if there are extra spaces in areas of your data the spaces will show in the finished printed product as well. Remember your list will print exactly as processed. For example:
First Name Last Name
John Q.(space) Sample
The finished product will look like this: John Q. Sample
The highlighted section represents extra tailing spacing at the end of the first name when a list has extra spaces and is processed those spaces will appear when printed.
I hope that these five tips help you in your data cleansing endeavors and if you would like more information on how Premier can help you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Donna Moulton