Make Sure You Have a 2019 Data Hygiene Plan

As marketers prepare to launch their 2019 campaigns, they should make sure that a complementary data hygiene plan is in place, and certainly AccuList USA data services stand ready to aid in ensuring the quality, up-to-date, enriched data essential for achieving marketing results.

Why Does Clean Data Matter?

Marketers don’t want to join the 88% of U.S. companies whose bottom lines are hurt by dirty data, based on Experian research. The top areas impacted by poor data practices are marketing (66% of companies) and lead generation (80% of companies), according to DemandGen. Dirty data leads to poor targeting and ROI for marketers, reduced revenue from customer acquisition and retention, wasted company resources and misdirected strategy. To avoid that fate, marketers need a plan to regularly fix any customer and prospect data that is incorrect, inaccurate, incomplete, incorrectly formatted, duplicated, or irrelevant, plus to enrich the database via appending of relevant but missing customer parameters.

Developing a Data Cleansing Strategy

Pete Thompson, founder of DataIsBeauty.com, has put together a useful primer for developing a data hygiene plan. Start with the basics: Decide what data is important for business decisions and estimate the ROI of data quality improvement. Then review existing data processes: types of data captured, where it comes from and how is it captured, the standards for data quality, how errors and issues are detected and resolved, etc. Other questions include the main sources of errors, methods for validating and standardizing data, methods for appending or combining multiple sources, automation used if any, accountability for data quality, and measurement of data ROI.

Key Elements of a Data Hygiene Plan

Without going into detail, the basic steps of the data plan will start with creating uniform data standards, preferably applied at the point of data capture. Then develop a data validation process, applied either when data is captured or, if that is not possible, at regular intervals for data already entered. After data has been standardized and validated, you can append missing fields by cross referencing with multiple data sources. Streamline the process through automation tools and scripts, saving time and money and reducing human errors. However, while it may be tempting to start with automation, Thompson cautions against putting the cart before the horse; success requires having data standards and a proven validation process in place before automating. And then set up a monitoring system of the hygiene process, whether automated or not, via random test samples and back testing, and implement periodic checks.

For regular monitoring, or overall scrubbing without an automated regimen, experts suggest a quarterly hygiene review for databases of 100,000 records or more, and semi-annual cleaning for smaller databases. Based on our own years in the data business, we think the best advice from Thompson and other experts is to enlist the services of data processing pros when hygiene is due!

Check out more details from Thompson’s data hygiene plan.




U.S. Marketers in Europe Wrestle GDPR Data Compliance

AccuList USA supplies data and direct marketing services to organizations with international as well as domestic reach. Starting this May, any U.S. marketer targeting actual or potential customers in the European Union (EU) countries must navigate a changed data landscape thanks to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It doesn’t matter if the brand, marketer or data processor is based in the U.S.; strict compliance is mandatory. And shrugging off new data rules is a very costly mistake. Noncompliance can mean a fine equal to 4% of global annual revenue!

GDPR Seeks to Protect Personal Data

The intended purpose of the regulation is protection of non-anonymized personal data, and compliance is required of any company (or organization) that stores or processes that personal information about individuals (“data subjects”), who are defined as European citizens residing in an EU state. The protected personal data includes:

  • Name, address, and phone number
  • IP address and cookies
  • Racial identity
  • Religion and religious affiliation
  • Health and genetic data
  • Biometric data
  • Sexual orientation and gender preference
Individuals Have New Data Rights

GDPR’s regulated “data controllers,” who determine data processing, or “data processors,” who handle data on behalf of data controllers, must respect key rights with regard to personal information. For example, there is an individual’s right to access, to knowing what personal data has been collected and how that data has been processed. There is a right to accuracy, and restriction of data processing in the case of inaccuracy. There is a right to “freely given” and “explicit” consent for processing and storage of personal data. Plus, consent may not be regarded as “freely given” where performance of a contract is made conditional on consent, or is unnecessary to performance of a contract. The data subject also has the right to data portability, meaning the ability to request and receive personal data in a format easily transferred to another data controller. Finally, there is erasure or “a right to be forgotten,” which allows individuals to withdraw their consent for data use or storage and demand that personal data be erased and no longer processed. Not sure it applies to you, direct marketer? Consider this GDPR wording: “Where personal data are processed for the purposes of direct marketing, the data subject should have the right to object to such processing, including profiling to the extent that it is related to such direct marketing, whether with regard to initial or further processing, at any time and free of charge.”

How Are U.S. Brands Handling GDPR?

Obviously, GDPR has big impacts on business strategies in the European market. For one thing, if you are handling personal data on a large scale or processing particularly sensitive data (such as health, race and religion), GDPR may require you to designate a specialized Data Protection Officer (DPO) to report to senior management. In terms of strategic response to the regulation, 64% of executives at U.S. corporations reported that their top strategy for reducing GDPR exposure is centralization of data centers in Europe, according to a report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Just over half (54%) told PwC they plan to anonymize European personal data to reduce exposure. A significant minority are even cutting European market efforts, with 32% of respondents planning to reduce their presence in Europe, and 26% intending to completely exit the EU market.

For a definitive guide to GDPR and explanations of key terms, see this Direct Marketing News article.

 

These Tech Trends Likely to Drive 2018 Direct Mail Success

Because direct mail data and support services are at the heart of AccuList USA’s expertise, we are always delighted to pass along tips on how to use direct mail more successfully in multi-channel marketing strategy. A blog post by Postalytics, a self-serve direct mail automation tool, recently mined multiple expert sources for the most influential direct mail trends of 2018, ranging from creative to technology to mailing strategy. If you have any lingering doubt over adding interactive technology to traditional snail mail, just take a look at the article’s top mail technology trends for this year.

Automation and Integration: Speedy, Targeted Production

Unsurprisingly, automation purveyor Postalytics puts mail automation software at the top of the list, but they get plenty of industry support. Automation allows marketers to quickly generate high-quality, personalized and trackable letters and postcards by leveraging templates, digital cues and automated workflows, cutting direct mail production cycles from 4-6 weeks down to 1 week. That automation also allows marketers to maximize response by integrating triggered direct mail into any step in the buyer’s journey, online or offline, so that mail delivery taps into the appropriate timing, content and call-to-action.

Linking Offline to Online: AR, QR and PURL

Interactive, mobile-scanned Augmented Reality apps and QR codes, as well as personal urls (PURLs) linked to targeted content-specific landing pages, allow direct mailers to connect offline marketing’s printed paper with online marketing’s digital pages, images, animations and videos. Studies show that combining snail mail with interactive digital is key to greater overall campaign response and ROI.

Enhanced Data Targeting and Personalization

The magic wand of quality, enhanced data can be waved over direct mail to match the right message to the right people at the right time. Good mailing list data allows for targeting based on shopping habits and needs, retargeting and cross-selling, recapturing and reactivating of lost prospects and customers, leveraging of trigger events and personal preferences, and more–provided there is a commitment to quality database hygiene and processing. Customer and prospect data lists need to be up-to-date, de-duped and accurate, and mailings must use cost-effective advanced postal address hygiene and pre-sorting. In addition to cost-effective, high-response targeting, good mailing data allows for sophisticated content personalization far beyond simply inserting a name, the kind of personalization that has become a basic expectation of customers. Marketers can even create personalized coupon codes that deliver a much higher ROI than generic coupon codes; these unique codes make customers feel valued on an individual level.

For 2018 direct mail trends in creative design and mailing strategies, see https://www.postalytics.com/blog/direct-mail-marketing-trends-for-2018/