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Data Cleaning: Tips and Tricks for Accurate Data

Holly Pels
Holly Pels , Digital Content Manager , Emarsys

As marketers, our goal is to provide an exceptional experience to customers, so exceptional that it delights them to the point of purchase. But sometimes, we find that even when we’re putting our best foot forward, some customers never respond. Are we missing the mark? Or is our data keeping us from reaching our customers?

Maybe their information has changed, or maybe we’re only reaching out to them on a channel they never use. Either way, marketers need to find a way to keep customers engaged on their preferred channels.

And for many brands, this means routinely cleaning their customer data. To stay top of mind for customers, you must ensure that the data you’re using to reach and market to them is as clean and accurate as possible.

The process of cleaning up your data (and keeping it clean) doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

Instead, you can rely on automated email messages to help you routinely check that your emails are up to date. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why you should clean your data and give you example campaigns that can help you get your data in top shape.

Why Should You Clean Your Data?

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As a marketer, you know how important your data is to your daily job and results, but you may not be fully aware of the dangers dirty data can have on your marketing efforts.

It Affects Customer Engagement

Outside of just email addresses, many brands keep names, birthdates, addresses, and more. When a contact sees an email with the wrong name or with her name misspelled, or receives an email for a birthday in the wrong month, this can leave a bad impression of the brand. Rather than getting a personalized experience, she’s getting messaging that makes her feel like it doesn’t know her at all.

It’s no secret that personalization is a top demand from consumers, and the brands that don’t address that demand risk losing consumers to other brands.

It Can Keep You Out of Inboxes

When brands batch and blast messages to every email in their database, they’re doing themselves more harm than good. If the email addresses are no longer used, no longer valid, or belong to someone who doesn’t want a certain brand’s emails, it can damage the brand’s sender score. This metric can actually keep you out of your customer’s inbox. The lower your score, the more likely you are to end up filtered out in a SPAM folder.

It Makes You More Productive

When you have data that is clean and usable, you’re able to quickly create segments and campaigns that execute on that data. When data is incorrect, you spend more time manually editing campaigns. Marketers who work with accurate and complete data also have more freedom to focus on the strategy and creative behind their campaigns, allowing them to be more engaging and in turn, drive higher conversions.

What Qualifies Your Data as Clean?

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When thinking about clean data, it can be hard to decipher exactly what that means. To keep it simple, think of clean data in these two ways:

Accuracy

Is the data you have for a customer correct? Data is considered accurate if it is the most up-to-date as possible. Not only that, but data must match the identifier for each field. If the field requires a zip code, that data must be numerical or it becomes inaccurate and can create an error in the customer profile. So, keeping data up-to-date and consistent across contacts is important.

Completeness

The more data fields you have filled in for your customers the better. Part of cleaning your data should be collecting more information on customers when you can. The more data you have collected from a customer, the more complete picture you have of that customer — and that allows you to market to and serve them better.

Data Clean Up Campaigns You Can Set Up Now

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Getting your data in order doesn’t have to be outsourced and it doesn’t have to consumer your marketing team’s time. Here are a few things you can do today.

Do You Really Want Our Emails?

The best way to ensure you’re marketing to your target audience is by asking them if they really want to be marketed to. For marketers, an email address is like liquid gold, so it may seem counterintuitive to ask contacts if they want emails from you. But bear with us.

Customers who opt-in to communications with you are your most engaged customers. And those customers are far more likely to open emails, engage, and convert than contacts who have no interest in receiving your marketing communications. As marketers, our job isn’t to spray and pray our way to sales, it’s to provide the best possible experience to our target audience and delight them to the point of purchase.

And as we’ve discussed before, sending emails to people who don’t open them or don’t engage is not only bad practice, but it can hurt you more than it helps. Consider sending a “break up” email to customers who haven’t engaged with you in a few months. Contacts who open and opt-in are still engaged customers and should stay in your database. Those who don’t should be removed from your database.

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Pro Tip: Use your customer data to analyze the customer lifecycle of each customer and better understand when individual customers are defecting or no longer engaged. Base the frequency of the emails on individual preferences. Some customers may only purchase from you once a year, so sending them an email asking if they still want to receive your emails at 6 months would be confusing and off-putting.

We Miss You, Here’s Something on Us

Another option for cleaning up your data is sending a “We miss you” email. These emails not only re-engage defecting customers (or customers who signed up and never purchased), but they also encourage contacts to further complete their profile.

By sending an email offering a special discount, brands are enticing customers to purchase. When customers purchase, especially if they have an item shipped to them, they’re prompted to enter additional information to complete that purchase. For marketers, this means more accurate data because the customer is inputting it herself.

Brands can also encourage customers to create a profile by adding a Create Password field to the process. This makes it easy for contacts to create a profile during the checkout process and fill in their own information for future use.

Source: Reebok

Pro Tip: If this contact has purchased before, analyze their customer behavior and use targeted incentives. For some shoppers, an offer of free shipping will entice purchase, while others might need a 25% off incentive. Either way, make sure the offer is personalized and compelling.

Edit Your Profile or Preferences

For many ecommerce retail brands, it’s easy to collect certain customer information, but how can you push customers to give you additional information?

Email addresses and payment information are often the only requirement for checking out, as are physical addresses if something is being shipped. But sometimes that data changes and the customer isn’t quick to update her information.

One option for brands to keep their data as up-to-date as possible is to include an “Edit Your Profile/Preferences” CTA in emails. By simply adding this widget at the bottom of emails, you’ll give customers the option to update their preferences (how many and which emails they receive, if they want to receive SMS offers, etc.) and update their contact information as it changes.

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Pro Tip: Add this block of content as a staple for all of your marketing emails. Make it easy for contacts to edit contact information and preferences. This makes it easier for you to keep some (not all) of your data clean and up-to-date.

Final Thoughts

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For brands looking to create better customer experiences and win more sales, keeping data clean is a must for running lucrative marketing campaigns. If you’ve never scrubbed your data, the process can seem daunting. But if you take the time to set up a few campaigns that will help you automate part of the process, regularly cleaning and updating data will become a seamless part of your strategy.

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