Dirty data is a big problem for nearly any company collecting information for strategic business purposes. (Which should be every company that wants to understand its customers, track and respond to trends, and create personalized marketing efforts.)
As we covered in our dirty data article, data problems are a major obstacle to obtaining the deep and insightful customer intelligence companies need to be competitive today. It’s all too easy for data to become dirty, quickly. With information collected through different systems and across different points of entry, it’s no wonder that duplicate, unstandardized, inaccurate and incomplete data are so common.
But, don’t let dirty data get you down. There is a lot that can be done to improve data quality to keep your business intelligence accurate and fresh.
Before You Start Your Data Cleansing Strategy
If you’re ready to embark on ensuring your data is always analysis-ready, there is one important question to ask before you begin:
What do you plan to do with your data?
Though many companies know that solid data can help the performance of their company, they often don’t have a concrete plan or strategy for how they will use it.
Having a clear understanding how you will analyze and use your data will help to target and prioritize your data cleansing efforts, which may seem overwhelming at first. For example, if you’re opening a new business location and want to communicate with contacts in a certain market, you may want to prioritize ensuring that address information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date.
Specific goals can also help garner buy-in and support from other staff or departments that will benefit from the information, and can implement ongoing good data hygiene efforts.
Data Best Practices to Implement Now
Ready to get started? Here’s the high-level view of a process we recommend to B2E clients.
- Conduct an audit. You need a good understanding of where your data comes from. When you have a complete view of how and where your data is collected, it is easier to identify where problems and errors are occurring, and you can take steps to address the root cause of dirty data.
- Too much of a good thing? It is possible to collect too much data if it becomes overwhelming and difficult to keep clean. If you have created a plan for your data, this will give you clarity about which data is most important. Streamline your efforts to focus on the information most beneficial to achieving your goals.
- Standardize at the point of entry. It is a lot of effort to clean up data after-the-fact. It’s worth the up-front investment in time to capture information uniformly, across the board. After conducting your data audit, you’ll be in a much better position to consistently structure data collection across all points of entry. If your company uses different software or platforms, this may require alignment across different departments. But as the saying goes, many hands make light work! Getting everyone on the same page will yield much greater efficiency later.
- Append your data. Appending your data involves adding new pieces of information to enrich your database. This helps create the most complete picture possible, improving accuracy, effectiveness, and meaningful interactions.
At B2E, we enhance our client data using numerous reliable sources of additional information that can shed light on things such as:
- Customer age, income, and number of children
- Preferred media
- Business size or annual sales data
- Customer traffic and travel habits
- Cleanse your data annually. Last, but certainly not least, we recommend making regular data maintenance part of your ongoing plans. Data decay happens naturally. It’s estimated that email marketing databases degrade by more than 20% every year. If regular data cleansing sounds like a chore – fear not! We offer tools and services that make data maintenance simple, including address standardization, deduping, deceased matching and national change of address matching. We also collect, clean and organize data so you can import into your own business intelligence software.
Ready to get (and keep) your data in tip-top shape? It doesn’t have to be overwhelming – let us help! Contact the data scientists at B2E for a free discovery call.