Bad prospect data may be costing companies millions. At the same time, consumers are concerned about maintaining their privacy. The solution, according to representatives of Epsilon Targeting and Marketfish is respectful, effective data appending.
The problem, after all, is clear, according to an e-book announced on March 10. "Assessing the Impact of Dirty Data on Sales & Marketing Performance," a DemandGen report released in partnership with ZoomInfo, found many organizations are relying on prospect data that is 20 percent to 40 percent wrong. Plus, 30 percent of businesses have no strategy in place to update inaccurate or incomplete information.
"With eight out of 10 companies surveyed indicating dirty data is hindering lead-generation campaigns and two-thirds expressing concern that inaccurate databases are limiting their marketing efforts, data is no longer an issue companies can afford to ignore," according to the report.
The strategy companies should employ is data appending that preserves consumer privacy, say Don Hinman, senior vice president at Epsilon Targeting, a division of Irving, Texas-based data provider Epsilon, and Dave Scott, CEO of Seattle-based self-service lead generation platform provider Marketfish. Here are four of their tips for implementing that strategy.
1. Use "anonymous" non-personally identifiable information (PII).
Scott says some platforms allow marketers to filter by attributes "without exposing the underlying data."
Independent linkage systems, such as assigning numbers to prospects rather than names and addresses, can also work to maintain consumer privacy, Hinman says. Or companies can use data that includes consumer names and addresses along with other information, then discard the names and addresses after appending the files.
Marketers can also use “geo-aggregate” data, which don't include names and addresses, such as ZIP +4 information or non-PII facts gleaned from IP addresses in those areas, Hinman says.
Perhaps not surprisingly, though, data appending that originally includes name and address information tends to be more accurate. Hinman says the typical match rate of appended data to an existing file using names and addresses with cities and states results in a 90 percent to 95 percent append rate. But email, which often doesn't have a “terrestrial” name and address, fares worse—with a 25 percent to 30 percent match rate.
2. Before appending, companies should verify they have the right to market to consumers or customers with the lists they already have.
Businesses can provide certification themselves—such as through a legal contract—or they can have data appending service providers certify it for them, Hinman says. He elaborates that having "the right to use all of the data" being appended means:
- All data are legally obtained;
- Data obtained from public records can be used, because of the "public" nature;
- Data from marketing sources should show that each consumer had "notice and choice" when providing the data. (i.e., opt-outs would not be included.);
- All DMA ethical guidelines are followed. (See articles 31 to 37.);
- All customer information received by the data enhancement company should be destroyed after the processing job has been verified as correct; and
- "Rules for appending email vary. For email appending to existing customers, most companies require that the email address passes an 'opt-out" filter. Also, the provider usually sends out the email using a 'notice' email, which allows for another opt out, and then sends the offer. For email appending to prospects, the provider will send out the emails to the names for the marketer, only using names that have 'opted in' to receive unsolicited email."
3. Exercise common sense.
Data append to a point, but don't cross over into the "creepy" zone, Scott says. Gather the appropriate information in order to know whether a consumer would be interested in engaging. He warns that going past that line gives companies the "false security" of knowing more about the consumer than they really do.
"If I am looking at Blu-ray players, I don't mind if you drop an email giving me 10 percent off of electronics in your store," Scott says. "If you give me 10 percent off of the exact Blu-Ray player that I put in my shopping cart, then that's creepy."
4. Better to be thought a fool than to mail something stupid and remove all doubt.
Back-to-school catalogs to childless couples. Email sign-ups for dating sites—sent to married couples. Fundraising letters sent to the deceased.
While it may seem unfair to marketers, these kinds of communications may lump their companies into this category in consumers' minds: "Report: Spam is at a Two-Year High," reads the Aug. 17 headline on Network World.
Use data appending to determine when not to communicate, Scott says.
"In the end, data appending is a good thing for consumers," Scott says. "It allows the advertisers to be selective in what they communicate, as opposed to blasting everyone with the same generic offer. For instance, I don't want a coupon for dog food if I don't own a dog. I expect the advertiser to do their homework before they print and ship that particular piece of collateral."