Data quality is more important than it has ever been. Ensuring that the customer and prospect data that you hold is accurate, up to date and compliant is a benchmark of responsible data management and marketing. Consumers expect it, the law requires it and it delivers massive cost savings, better ROI and reduces the risk of brand damage.
A key part of maintaining the quality of the consumer data you hold is the identification and suppression of individuals who have moved from the address you have in your database – using a credible suppression file such as REaD Groups definitive Gone Away Suppression file (GAS).
Why compromise the success of your campaigns and risk the reputation of your business by continuing to send communications to individuals using their old address?
Using a credible gone away suppression service will bring many business benefits:
• Reduce campaign costs and improve ROI
• Prevent the brand damage caused by sending mail addressed to previous occupants
• Help you to adhere to the data quality requirement under Data Protection Act 2018
• Help you to keep in touch with customers and supporters and maximise retention and LTV
While perusing Twitter a couple of weeks ago, I came across a tweet that caught my eye. No, not another amusing clip of dog chasing its tail or a cat in a hat but a note from a women who had just received a letter addresses to her husband. The letter was to advise him that, as he had been identified as being in a vulnerable category – due to an underlying condition – he should self-isolate to protect himself from Covid-19.
Why is that worthy of a post on Twitter you may ask? Well, it turns out her husband had sadly passed away 4 years ago – yes FOUR YEARS AGO! From the tone of the Tweet it sounded like she didn’t know whether to cry or laugh but ultimately, she was left with a negative impression of the sender – as would anyone in a similar situation or just reading the tweet.
This is a shocking example of bad data management having a very real impact on an individual. Clearly, the potential for causing unnecessary distress is huge – and I suspect this experience is being replicated in thousands of households across the UK. For many, sadly the loss will be a lot more recent than four years ago – and as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. With even more potential for causing pain and creating the worst impression!
And it is not just local authorities who could be inadvertently sending out communications to deceased individuals. Retail, financial service and utility providers and not-for-profits are also sending out communications to deceased individuals via mail and email. Everything from mail order catalogues, special offers, subscriptions, charity appeals to travel brochures and other well-meaning communications. These are, naturally, being received, opened and read by relatives and loved ones. A formula for distress and bad press.
Of course, any distress and damage is unintentional – as you would assume that no businesses would knowingly send communications to a deceased individual. Here lies the biggest frustration of this scenario – it is very easily avoided if the right data management practices are in place.
It may not be the sexiest aspect of data – but data cleansing should categorically be a fundamental aspect of data management practices for all government bodies, businesses and not-for-profits.
With a choice of different providers and a range of services available to suit any requirements and frequency – managed, self-service, automated, integrated via API for real-time screening – there really is no excuse to be contacting deceased individuals!
Don’t be the cause of unnecessary distress and protect your reputation by implementing a regular deceased screening service ASAP. Especially given the current circumstances – why risk it?
As we find our feet in the new decade, we consider the big drivers and trends we can expect to see this year (and beyond!). From data quality, third party data and advances in automation, there is plenty on the horizon!
One of the big areas of concern in the data world we’ve seen lately has been around ethics/values and we expect there to be increased emphasis on this subject throughout this year. Where data-driven marketing is concerned, one of the key questions is how we can gain the trust of consumers to an extent where they are happy to share their personal data.
The principal of giving brands the right to be personal is only effective if the brand has access to quality data. There is a correlative relationship between trust vs sharing data – the more a customer trusts a business the happier they will be to share their data.
In a recent Dun & Bradstreet report, half of the 500 business leaders interviewed said their business wouldn’t survive without top quality data, while over two-thirds (69%) agreed that having access to more data supports revenue generation.
A large proportion of this trust comes down to transparency and companies being open and honest about how consumer data is being processed. At REaD Group, we are strong advocates for best practice; we are able to take any record from our suite and identify the point of collection as well as the legal basis on which it is being processed. We believe this should be a mandatory requirement for all personal data utilised in today’s climate.
First party data vs third party data
While first party data is naturally an asset, the advantages and capabilities of third party data should never be overlooked. Third party data offers a whole range of possibilities – enabling businesses to find their best customers, drive more informed decisions, gain more value from their marketing activity and delivering ROI.
Some 54% of the business leaders interviewed by D&B said that third-party data is valuable for enhancing the data that they hold in their organisation, while a similar proportion (56%) agreed that they would benefit from more of it.
But again, trust is crucial. You can only trust the data you’ve got if you can maintain its quality. And can you trust the supplier of the data if it’s third party data?
Buying third party data
You should always be sure to conduct thorough due diligence on a supplier before purchasing marketing data. You need to be able to trust the quality of the data – there are a number of questions you should always ask when choosing a provider (see our handy checklist here).
Permission must be accurately tracked and evidence the due diligence that was applied to it at the point of collection. This all aligns to a fundamental requirement of the Data Protection Act 2018 – privacy by design. Any credible data supplier should be able to demonstrate this level of transparency.
Keeping data clean
We can expect to see data hygiene continuing to rise to the top of the agenda this year. Businesses are recognising more and more that it is a requirement of GDPR that data must be kept up-to-date and accurate. This realisation is beginning to trickle down from the bigger players to the mid-size market and should continue to progress to smaller companies and SME’s throughout 2020.
Regardless of the size of your business, keeping data clean needn’t be a cumbersome task. Take one of our clients, Stannp, a print management provider which offers companies a fully digital, integrated solution to their direct mail needs.
As keeping data up-to-date and accurate is now law, Stannp wanted to provide its clients with the ability to clean their direct mail campaign data in realtime.
We provided them with a fully automated data cleaning solution which provides realtime access to our data cleaning products, GAS and TBR. Clients upload their data to the platform and are given the option to plug into REaDConnect before launching a campaign, delivering a bespoke data cleaning solution that is moulded to their requirements.
Research shows that the higher the quality of data an organisation holds, the more efficient and effective an organisation is, and data quality is a top priority for 41% of UK data leaders, according to a Big Data LDN report.
As the list of processes that can be automated continues to grow, automation is certainly something that will continue to be important in 2020. The prevalence of API’s isn’t a huge surprise given the efficiency, speed, accuracy and enhanced information security that automation can offer.
For companies with vast quantities of data, automation is able to alleviate the ‘heavy lifting’ involved with the management and processing that such an asset demands. Automating your data cleansing process will provide access to cleaner data, leading to increased insight, better decision-making, triggered campaigns, live personalisation and improved business planning.
In addition to improving regulatory compliance and increasing customer loyalty, automation can also provide customers with a better experience and offer brand protection. It reduces processing costs, uses less infrastructure and improves resilience, and removes or reduces manual processes and associated resource time, leaving it to be redeployed on more creative activities.
Quality data and data quality
What all of this illustrates essentially is the importance of trust and transparency, especially in 2020. If you are able to demonstrate to your customers that you adhere to the principles of both data quality and quality data, then they will be reassured that their data will be looked after according to the data protection laws, and they in turn will trust you. Let’s make this year the year of responsible marketing!
According to a recent dun&bradstreet report, The Past, Present and Future of Data, one in five businesses admit they have lost a customer due to incomplete or inaccurate data.
And this was identified as being a challenge across businesses of all sizes: 25% of businesses with over 500 employees, 32% of businesses with between 250 and 500 employees and 16% of smaller businesses (0 -10 employees) having lost customers as a result of using poor quality data.
That’s pretty damning stuff. Particularly when you consider that it costs anything from five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one. Even at the lower end of that scale, very few businesses can afford to be losing customers, revenue and sacrificing hard won LTV at that rate.
Data has undoubtedly become an integral part of how businesses function today, but it is essential to ensure that this data is the RIGHT data.
58% of businesses worry about the accuracy and completeness of their data [dun&bradstreet – The Past, Present and Future of Data 2019]
Continuing to market to the previous address of individuals who have relocated will waste precious marketing budget (which could be better allocated elsewhere) and risk losing contact with customers who may become lapsed as a result. The current occupiers of that property will also be far less likely to engage with a brand that is inundating them with a previous-tenant’s mail.
Similarly, failing to screen for deceased contacts in your database will also waste marketing spend – and more importantly will have the potential to cause distress to the families of those still being contacted. Why risk damaging your brand’s reputation? Furthermore, why risk inviting penalties from the ICO for non-compliance to GDPR Article 5?
In these competitive times, with consumers that are more demanding and less loyal than ever, losing customers due to inaccurate data is pretty poor business and, in reality, a very easily avoided reason to lose a customer!