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10 things you will only recognise if you clean marketing data

Keeping data clean can be a dirty business. How many of these situations do you recognise? Marketing data is a strange model of the real world, in all its messy chaos. This makes it harder for anyone charged with cleaning data! If you want to bring order to your marketing data, remind yourself of these common situations.

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1. You feel you’re marketing to a horde of zombies.


Those cold suspects who never click? It's because they left their employer years ago. But their email inboxes remain active, mindlessly sucking in your optimistic outbounds and slashing your response rates.

3. You’re under attack from the clones.


A list might contain two or three John Smiths, but not thirty Zachariah Rossarians. Records with identical Firstname and Lastname are the first place to look if you've ever merged lists.

4. You’re being crowded out by the Nearly Men.


Mr Alex Handel. Mr Alexander Handle. Ms Alex Handley. Which variations on a theme are real people and which are typos bloating your database? (Hint: typos happen in patterns and there's software that can help.)

5. You keep seeing old friends for the first time.


The record says it's a fresh lead. But you know Bob Bloggs and your company go back years. If a long term client gets duped in error, you risk the whole customer relationship.

6. Huge positives send you into shock.


A spike on a graph has the Sales Department jubilant. Unfortunately, the metric that caused it was hand-entered and the hand was a bit shaky. (Again, software can help. More than two standard deviations from the mean suggests a value is probably rogue.)

8. You notice contacts with dubious backgrounds.


In a database full of Widgets Corps and Gadgets Ltds, there's a Pink Unicorn Dollhouses Inc. Perhaps the data was bought, not built? Every list is salted with the list owner's friends and family, so they know when it's being used. Save your Sales a prospecting call.

So we're agreed: cleaning data can be a thankless task. Amazingly, there are some people out there who actually enjoy it. (Or at least enjoy applying their smarts to the problem.) Before you seek professional help, remember these pointers:

- Half the battle is maintaining a single database, in a single place

- Treat your database as a living organism that needs feeding, not a static list

- Using metadata properly can fully describe each Contact record, increasing its value

Data, schmata! Check out the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Data Management