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Matteo Viola
6 May 2020
Reading time: 10 min.

Customer data quality: no effective strategy without data reliability

Sending is not enough. It’s the quality and use of data that makes the difference. Let’s introduce you to customer data quality, its advantages, and what it takes to do it.

As you’ve often read on our blog, E-mail Marketing isn’t just about campaigns, the latest design, and automatic submissions. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Hidingbeneath is work that allows those campaigns to be truly effective.

Oneof these activities is rarely mentioned yet is key: customer data quality. I personally manage it at MailUp.

Customerdata quality is still far underestimated. Many companies perceive it as a“luxury,” a method too rigorous and meticulous to be accepted ascontinuous and constant. In fact, it has a key impact on sending and its performance. It means working atthe base and ensuring a solidfoundation for your communications. But let’s get things straight from thebeginning.

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What’s customer data quality

Customerdata quality refers to a set of activities aimed at guaranteeing the quality and reliability of the data forthe recipients, whether they are actual or potential.

Asmentioned, this is an underestimated activity. In fact, data are usually takenfor granted as something that, once acquired, don’t require further maintenance over time. On thecontrary, it’s this lack of maintenance that turns out to be the main reasonfor campaign inefficiency.

Hence,in a nutshell—why is customer data quality needed?

  • Because e-mail ROI and data quality go hand in hand
    Return on investment is the final metric, but it depends entirely on the previous metrics: openings, clicks, and conversions. This is why, when your database has a large amount of outdated or irrelevant information, metrics never receive an upward impulse. Accordingly, ROI suffer as the last link in the chain. Further, we know that customer data quality allows the most structured companies to increase their revenue by 70% compared to average structured companies.
  • Because otherwise any customization and automation strategies would be thwarted
    Companies are increasingly starting to invest in customizationautomation and artificial intelligence technologies. All these resources can optimize every aspect of communication, with the aim of increasing performance and return. However, if technologies have to rely on poor quality data, then their outcome won’t have the desired takeoff. The more you want your marketing campaign to be specific and targeted, the more you need to rely on clean data.
    It’s a fact that poor data quality is the first hindrance to personalization.
  • Because it reduces the churn rate by improving customer retention
    Retention activity means keeping your customers over time while minimizing their defections. As a result, retention means engaging customers and strengthening the relationship with the brand by offering benefit and added value. This is only possible thanks to clean, quality, and reliable data.
  • Because it demands reflection, analysis, and the creation of buyer personas
    The analysis of one’s database and the search for efficiency lead companies to question their own client model and concentrate efforts and resources on what is the real company target. We are talking about the so-called buyer personas, i.e., imaginary people and “typical consumer” archetypes. These are built not only on demographic, economic, and geographical information, but also by sourcing behavioral, situational, emotional, and other distinctive data, such as interests and hobbies.
  • Because it improves deliverability
    If your data are poor or degraded, then also deliverability and sending reputation may be at risk. Such a deterioration, in turn, is going to impact your campaign results and ROI.
    To make things clear: valid e-mails are the backbone of any E-mail Marketing strategy. Conversely, if your database contains more than 20% of bouncing addresses, then your domain is likely to be blacklisted. This means that your e-mails won’t reach the recipient’s inbox.

Measure the impact of deliverability on your turnover

Obsolete databases, irrelevant content, poor sender reputation, lack of authentication protocols, and blacklisting: all of this directly translates into low deliverability.

What kind of data fall in the customer data quality’s scope?

Customerdata quality covers and work on the contactdetails (e-mail address, telephone number or, as appropriate, postaladdress) and the profiling data.

Contact details

Thequality of the contact details is not limited to merely correct e-mailaddresses. It also, and above all, must involve the certainty that the e-mail is the one actually used by theuser. In fact, let’s not forget that quite often users now have at least two e-mail addresses (business andprivate).

Thismeans it’s necessary to be sure that we still have the e-mail address that’s most relevant to theuser. In this case, we can launch a campaign aimed exclusively atvalidating the main contact data (first name, family name, e-mail, andtelephone number).

Thisactivity can differ depending on whether you operate in a B2B or B2C market:

  • B2B
    Ensuring that the contact detail is correct and baseline for the user isn’t enough. We must be sure to e-mail the right person within the company. Therefore, it’s vital to have more contacts for each company/client, each associated with their respective role.
    Furthermore, most company databases store contacts that have stopped working at the same firm for a long time. Often, people don’t delete those contacts simply because they want to keep the relationship. It’s actually an empty investment.

What do we do at MailUp?

The MailUp platform allows for selecting four roles (Administrator, Campaign Manager, Technician, Privacy). Each role is required to specify a type of communication.

  • B2C
    Does your database include contacts with incorrect (bouncing)  e-mail addresses but with mobile numbers? Try launching a re-engagement campaign via SMS. If you don’t receive feedback, even via SMS, then it’s time to go ahead with an inactive contact campaign (we’ll talk about it shortly).

Profiling data

It’snot longer about contact details here, but rather all the information thatcompletes the profile ata deeper level of knowledge. It includes where the clientlives, when he/she was born, if he/she is a man or a woman, his/her interests,and so on. This set, even if differentiated, is key both in B2B and in B2C.

Profilingis a complex topic, which we’ll discuss in more detail shortly.

Customer data quality necessary activities

Clear out the database from incorrect contacts and standardize the data

Contactdatabases almost always contain duplicateor incomplete customer data (e.g. leads entered twice or e-mailaddresses with typos). A databasecleanup from these errors is mandatory. Some opt for manual cleaningwhile others turn to automation.

How does automatic cleaning take place in MailUp?

The platform automatically processes the addresses to identify syntactic or typing errors, managing bounces, and unsubscribes:
› Bounces: identifies and categorizes them by type of error
› Double addresses: eliminates them during the import phase
› Wrong addresses: displays them for further checking.
Find out how MailUp automatically keeps your database up-to-date

Forcompanies with more data sources, the riskof inconsistencies in the collection is high. Consequently, not onlycleaning up but also standardizing data is necessary. Standardization can help companies avoid unnecessaryduplicates and other mistakes that negatively affect campaign costs.

Speaking of data sources, another fundamental step is the integration of sales and marketing data. When these align, every customization and customer data quality activity is easier and more effective. The advice is, therefore, to integrate your different systems to share and synchronize data.

It’salso important to entrust data quality to a company profile or team. This willbe able to manage all the information-related activities with moreeffectiveness and thoroughness than anyone who does it extemporaneously.

Create reliable registration forms and processes

You already know the world of registration forms as it’s essential for E-mail Marketing (we just highlight this post that guides you step-by-step to create forms, pages, and e-mails for managing the registration of new recipients).

It might be more useful to dwell upon the import of incorrect data resulting from manual input (forms and paper records). The advice in this case is to use an app like Jade, which allows for collecting e-mail and SMS contacts directly from tablets, even without Internet connection. This is an essential tool when harvesting contacts, especially in offline contexts, such as shopsevents, trade fairs, and conferences.

As for the processes, the double opt-in is more than recommended, since it grants that the e-mail address entered by the new subscriber is valid and actually owned by the user.

Launch of profiling campaigns

Asmentioned earlier, profiling has two goals:

  • ensuring that contact details are still correct (both B2B and B2C); and
  • ensuring that information on interests and preferences are updatedsince—as everyone knows—tastes, inclinations, and needs change rapidly.

The next step is to create a profiling form. You can create such a page in a few minutes by accessing the MailUp Database Building section with the possibility of aligning the form with your brand identity. Here’s an example of a form:

Slider 3_EN 1 1

Oncethe profiling form has been created, it’s necessary to identify the best channel and strategy for conveying it. Hereare some ideas:

  • Welcome e-mails, inviting the new contacts to complete their profile for receiving communications that are relevant and in line with their interests
  •  Reserved area of your site, if any
  • Profiling e-mail campaigns (possibly with an incentive for the recipient, such as a discount or free access to a service)
  • SMS campaigns
  • Messaging Apps campaigns.

Manage the inactive contacts

Inactive contact management is an integral part of the customer data quality process and can be carried out through reactivation (or re-engagement) campaigns. The most effective way to structure such a campaign is to build a flow of automatic communications, setting trigger conditionswaiting times, and actions to be taken at the end of the flow. You can independently choose how many e-mails to send before classifying a user as definitively “lost.”

The automatic workflow can be set asfollows (the number of days is purely by way of example):

[30 days after the last interaction]
Sending the first reactivation message

[60 days after the last interaction]
Sending the second reactivation message to those who haven’t opened the first one

[90 days after the last interaction]
Sending the third reactivation message to those who haven’t opened the first nor the second message

End of workflow: if the user clicked, then it gets moved to Active. If the user didn’t click, then it gets automatically moved to the Unsubscribed list.

Thisway, the database cleanup runs continuously, on time, and in a completelyautomatic way.

In summary

Customerdata quality is key as it’s broad and because it involves and integrates awhole series of activities.

As you may have guessed, both technique and tools are required to improve data quality. For tools, let me suggest to request a free platform trial (you’ll have 30 days to test all its functions). For the technique, the advice is rather to rely on our team dedicated to the Database Building & Enrichment activities.

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Matteo Viola

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