Cleaning up has always been a virtue. Thanks to Netflix and bestselling Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo, who preaches a mindful approach to better living through tidying up, it has now also become a major viral trend. Today, I would like to help you explore another path to inner joy and peace in your business: cleaning up your contact data.
You see, your contact data assets are a bit like most people’s closets: they start off being functional, but without the right kind of effort, they decompose into clutter over time. (Over 70% of this data changes every year as people move, change jobs, their companies merge, and more.) Unfortunately, this clutter can cost you – in time, wasted marketing efforts, or even severe compliance penalties for unwanted marketing contacts. So here is a three-step process that will help ensure that your contact data is always genuine, accurate, and up-to-date.
First: Getting it Right at the Time of Data Acquisition
What is one of the more common sources of contact data error? Acquiring it in the first place. Most organizations have multiple touch points where contact data enters their system: web pages, inbound customer inquiries, lead processing, and more. Customers fat-finger their addresses or contact information, data entry team members are human and make mistakes, and sometimes fraud or fakery is even involved.
One productive solution to this is to use API-based tools the plug in to your sales, marketing or CRM platforms, to seamlessly help ensure contact data quality on the front end. For example, address validation services check inbound address data against USPS, international and other databases to ensure address accuracy or correct them if needed. For other forms of contact data, phone validation can identify a numbers owner and validity, as well as carrier, line type and geolocation data, while email validation verifies email validity and corrects things like common typos.
Other API tools bundle advanced services such as validating the quality of incoming leads, appending contact phone numbers, or linking your contacts to demographics data for business analysis or compliance purposes. Whatever level you need, implementing API-based services like these in your business automation platforms helps ensure getting the right contact data every time, at the point of entry.
Second: Cleaning Your Database
Congratulations – you’ve now entered accurate, validated contact data. Which leads to the next issue: practically the minute you get up to grab some coffee, your contact data assets are starting to decay. So periodically, it makes sense to bring this data back in line with reality, to maintain its usefulness for functions like market analysis, business intelligence, campaign planning and more.
In situations like these, batch or list processing services often represent a convenient way to clean an entire contact database at once. Our own batch services can process an entire list or database with little or no programming required. Tools like these are often a smart and simple way to make good data hygiene part of your regular routine.
Third: Lather, Rinse, Repeat
How often should you clean up your data? Repeat after me: every time you use it. Here’s why: accurate contact data may be important for things like market planning and business analytics, but it is absolutely critical when you actually get in touch with people on your lists. Direct mail campaigns have human and material costs tied in with bad address data, outbound telemarketing to changed numbers potentially risk severe penalties from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and unwanted email contact can get you blacklisted.
The same tools you use to validate and clean your data are at your service here, each and every time you run a campaign or contact your customers. But here, the solution is as much organizational as technical: make sure someone is “on first” for ensuring your ongoing data quality and data governance.
Questions? We Can Help!
When it comes to cleaning your data, we actually do one thing much better than Marie Kondo: her bestselling book sprang from an infamous months-long waiting list for her organizing services, but our knowledgeable team of data experts will return your call in just 90 minutes or less! So whether it’s questions on international data, API interfaces, or simply discussing what strategy works best for you, contact us anytime and let us help you discover the life-changing magic of tidying up your data.