Monday, September 24, 2007

What is Your Data Quality Gameplan?

If you are frequent readers of our blog, you know that one of the subjects that we are most passionate about is that of maximizing good data quality. Data quality can make or break your direct marketing success -- and it's been proven time and again. We are always amazed when we run into those who have not adopted this mantra -- and the resulting dollars that are wasted on marketing with dirty data. It's all about data cleanliness, my friends -- and there is simply no way to market effectively without clean, quality data.

In fact, QAS has recently posted several articles about this very subject. In their most recent post, they post some of our very favorite kind of proof -- dollars! According to the article, "Businesses across the US are expected to have increased their budgets for direct marketing as they see the potential benefits of campaigns launched on the back of effective data quality systems, according to new figures. The latest Media Business Report from Jack Myers revealed that traditional types of marketing, including direct mail, continue to be popular among businesses of all sizes. Based on current rate of growth, the group has forecast that total direct marketing budgets across the country will increase by 3.6 per cent in 2007." Now, that's music to our ears for sure!
It seems like such a simple equation-- so why doesn't everyone just do it? Well, in order to consistently clean and manage your data, it takes both a time and a financial investment. However, even with the use of very simple techniques, like widely-available, inexpensive data hygiene tools, you can distinctly improve your data quality in short order.

It is very important to fully understand what your company actually needs when you look at data quality tools. There are those firms out there that have expensive, sexy data management and integration tools that are very effective -- but only necessary in some circumstances. When beginning to look at your data and database to determine what types of data cleansing tools and techniques you need in your particular company, start with a hard look at exactly what you are trying to accomplish. If you aren't sure, bring in an expert (like us!) to help you assess your situation and wade through the many different tools and solutions that are out there in the market. It's just as important not to over-spend in this area as it is to actually bring the tools in themselves. For more of our tips on this, take a look at our Data Quality Whitepaper. We wrote this Whitepaper based upon our experiences in assisting our clients in implementing sound data quality practices. It outlines some of the pitfalls to avoid -- and these will definitely be helpful to you as you assess your own particular situation.

The good news for us direct marketing types, is that direct marketing budgets are expected to increase -- yahoo! As the article states, "In comparison, several other areas of traditional media advertising, including yellow pages, are expected to grow by less than one per cent as marketers react to poor rates of return."

We'll take our 3.6% all day long!


Ted Grigg said...

That is good news.

But speaking to your comments about clean data, now there’s an animal of a different nature.

As I have found out working closely with client data, the issue is not technology or even great IT resources, but lack of understanding of how to establish, enforce and update business rules.

As you know, databases are driven by specifications. And in the database world, specifications are defined by business rules.

We must understand that many businesses depend on hundreds of individuals to input data into the master file. Their ability, training and software interface all work to assure clean data going in.

This infrastructure has not kept up with the growth in most companies.

So what you have is an imbalance between the marketing strategy and the reliable data to implement or evaluate it.

I have just described one of the fastest growing areas of my direct marketing consulting business. Thank you for mentioning this as critical to the growth of the direct marketing strategy.

PervaraKapadiaatblog said...

Good to find this content! Data has another set of problems too. If there is no 'appointed driver' to the system and no leadership it dies its natural death.

Unfortunately many a times people think that data activities once set and put in place [the logic etc] it will run. However this aint the case

Suzanne Obermire said...

I agree with you both. You definitely need to have defined processes in place to avoid "Garbage In--Garbage Out". And, someone needs to own and drive the process, or data quality will never be achieved.