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March 2008 e-gram

Does Your Data Need a Check-Up?

When it comes to utilizing 1:1 marketing, one of the major concerns we often hear from our customers is that they don’t own enough data. Another is that they do own enough data, but that data is not centralized, is incomplete or is inaccurate. In other words, their data is just plain bad.

What if you fall into the latter category? What can you do?

The first step is to wrap your arms around the problem. This often involves contacting a specialist who can analyze your data. While this sounds daunting, it’s really no different than taking your car to a mechanic, who hooks up the car to a machine that analyzes the electronics and spits out a report that tells you where the problems are.

Data-mining specialists do much the same thing. They run your data through a process called a “data audit” that helps you understand just how good or bad your data is and what you need to fix.

Let’s look at an example. Boire Filler Group, a data-mining specialist, recently gave a presentation at the 2008 Graphic Arts Technical Foundation Variable Data Printing Conference that profiled its experience with a Canadian retailer. The retailer had plenty of data and wanted to use that data to produce 1:1 print marketing. The problem was that the data was geared for finance and accounting, not for marketing.

So Boire Filler ran a data audit that included frequency distribution reports for each variable in the retailer’s database. One of the most glaring challenges that came to light was that the retailer had addresses for only 50% of its customers. The company did, however, have phone numbers. The solution? Boire Filler contacted a list house that maps phone numbers to names and addresses and appended the database with the missing information.

In another example, Boire Filler found that each one of the retailer’s stores was gathering customer data in isolation. Each customer might have two, three, even five different customer IDs—one for each store in which they shopped. Once again, telephone numbers came to the rescue. Boire Filler used each customer’s telephone number as a common point of contact to consolidate the data into a single marketing database.

As in these examples, seemingly overwhelming problems often have simple solutions. Just like taking your car to the mechanic, a basic diagnostic test is often half the battle. So if you think your data needs a check-up, don’t panic. Let us coordinate the project so that you get just the solution you need.