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Ignoring bad data can cost you your customers

by Janelle Keyes, Marketing and Sales Coordinator, www.datamentors.comTuesday, August 19, 2008

By: Bob Orf

Marketers know the age-old axiom best: It is up to 10 times more expensive to gain a new customer than to sell to an existing customer. This is especially relevant in today's economic situation, as businesses are finding it necessary to tighten their capital expenditures. With this in mind, companies integrate a variety of campaigns, including drip marketing offers, into their marketing strategies, striving to keep their brands in front of customers' eyes. What cripples marketing consistently is this: The customers you want to stay in front of may not be the ones you are necessarily reaching or, even worse, your messaging may never land in front of any eyeballs at all.

The problem: bad data. Some research indicates that up to 40% of a company's data is bad, resulting in duplicate records, workaround costs, recovery costs, lost opportunities and, most painfully, lost customers. You could distribute marketing materials to your entire database, maintaining a level of confidence that some pieces will hit the intended target. Many companies do this. Your competition undoubtedly does. So why is this a problem?

You don't know your customer at all. As a result, your marketing efforts and funds are squandered. This will not only prove detrimental to your company's image long-term but also to your bottom line.

To put it into a cost perspective, capturing erroneous data directly at the source is invaluable if for marketing purposes, data records cost, say, $1 per unit. Capturing incorrect data before reaching your customer would save you $50, based on the costs to replace that customer.

The solution: data quality. Databases are doubling in size every six to nine months. Catching erroneous data earlier is key to your bottom line. Ignore the problem for another month and the problem compounds itself, further wasting funds on "off-target" marketing campaigns.

The good news is that bad data are both identifiable and repairable. Here are a few dos and don'ts to begin your data refinement, starting today:

Do a data-quality assessment, whether your company has the on-site expertise and software to run a quality check or not. You can outsource it. Learn what's hidden in your millions of records. The results will probably scare you-wasted marketing materials, loss of revenue due to billing errors, reduced customer satisfaction, misallocated human resources. And the list goes on.

Don't turn a blind eye to the millions of bad records piling up in your database. Not only will this take up a large portion of your budget over time, it becomes a logistical nightmare to your marketing and sales teams.

Do a cost analysis. DataMentors offers free assessments to identify how many bad records you have. You can confidently assume that at least 15%, and most likely as much as 40%, of your data is bad. With this staggering statistic in mind, what do you suspect bad data will cost you this quarter?

Don't think in terms of now. In the data world, 20 minutes is an eternity. As technology continues to fuel our real-time society, data compound by the minute. There is a continuous need to update your data. The time spent collecting customer information is futile when you send out materials that either don't reach or ineffectively touch your customers. Data quality is an upfront investment that produces sustained profitability.

With the countless methods companies use to target customers, there's no reason to drop the ball at the source. Quality data elicit quality response. Data records are diamonds in the rough. Your proprietary database is a diamond mine. Mine it and polish it, then reap its rewards. 

About the Author

Bob Orf is President & CEO of DataMentors, (www.datamentors.com), a data-quality business intelligence analytics software development company headquartered in Tampa, Florida.

About DataMentors, Inc.

Founded in 1998, DataMentors, Inc. is staffed by industry veterans with proven success in designing and developing database marketing solutions. The founders of DataMentors – Bob Orf and Bev Tannenbaum – were previous executives of OKRA Marketing Corporation, a database marketing company. At OKRA, Bob and Bev were involved in the design, development, implementation and support of the company’s mainframe and PC-based relationship matching (householding) systems.

The market acceptance of the OKRA solutions and the financial success of the organization resulted in the purchase of OKRA by John H. Harland Company. This provided an opportunity for the founders to leverage their 35+ combined years of industry experience into the creation of DataMentors. With key members of their finely honed staff of expert programmers and analysts in tow, DataMentors settled in Tampa, Florida and is today a growing, vibrant, recognized community leader in the data quality and database marketing industry.

DataMentors provides a suite of technologically advanced and customer approved software solutions that help companies identify, cleanse, standardize, match, analyze, and manage business and customer information. The company’s mission is to deliver a total database solution derived from a solid data quality foundation.

Many of DataMentors’ current customers were customers from the days of OKRA. The loyalty speaks volumes to the customer-centric culture of the organization. With a 100% customer retention level and a growing customer base, the company remains focused in their quest to provide customers with insightful information used for successful and profitable business decisions .

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