When it comes to customer data, your business insights are only as good as your last audit. Each year, a portion of whatever data your marketing team holds will become obsolete – sometimes as much as 20 per cent.

One per cent of the population unfortunately die, while ten per cent will move house. And, of course, new phone numbers and email addresses along the way will remove some customers from being able to give you insight into your brand.

Of course, not all data is created equal, and while it degrades at different rates, some will remain more valuable to you than others depending on your campaign. Looking to convert more sales? Then your existing customer database might be the most valuable to you right now. Looking to widen your customer base? Those prospective customer details will be your most important at present. Keeping this data as accurate as possible will help your campaigns achieve better results.

And of course, the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect from May this year, and keeping your data up to date factors into article 5, which reads: “Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay.”

So now that you know it must be done, what are the best practices to ensure it’s the most useful for your business? Well, Marketing Tech News has a few ideas to get you started. 

The first tip is to focus in on the smallest subsets of data. If overall data quality is high, you may still find that some areas have lower accuracy. That will give you not only an area of focus identified, but also the evidence to help rally resources to improve data in this area. Focus is about looking beyond the basic headlines of data analysis to prove how valuable data really is.

This may also reveal any issues with your data capture – if opt-ins are low in one sector but high in another, can this be explained by customer behaviour or is there an issue somewhere in your processes.

This is where an audit can help you get a ‘holistic’ view of your business data, that is, as a whole, giving you a base to start to understand key issues. Your data might show that only a certain percentage of telephone numbers are valid, but is that down to errors, or is it down to an inconsistent field for entering this data that doesn’t force the preferred format? Ensuring that data is in a regular, consistent form will also save time further down the line for anyone trying to use the data for marketing purposes.

It also pays to be regular with your data audits. When using data analysts, the cost of a data audit will only increase the longer you leave it. Instead, schedule regular audits, either based on time since the last audit or when a specific data value falls below a set criteria. Regular audits will also be particularly important when GDPR comes into effect.


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