Database: Get the Dupes Out
Approaches to data hygiene introduced 30 or 40 years ago have been rendered obsolete. Back then, the average person moved only once in a decade, was less likely to divorce and typically relied on a single phone line for the entire household. That is a sharp contrast to today, when typical consumers make 11 moves during their lifetimes and 2 million people divorce each year. And, as we all know, the majority of households rely on multiple cell phones, often in lieu of a dedicated land line.
Today, any multichannel marketer can tell you that its customer files change almost daily, with new information contributed from stores, catalogs and the Web. Even with the most strenuous efforts in place to qualify new-to-file transactions, customer files continue to accumulate disparate, and seemingly unrelated, transactions.
Several dynamic factors make it very difficult to correctly identify and value each customer with traditional identity consolidation processes. Consider that:
• Most merge/purge processes were developed more than 30 years ago and were never intended to recognize the fluidity of movement, name changes and vastness of channels in which customers interact today. Multiple channels equate to name and address permutations that accrue as the customer's interactions across channels grow.
• In today's increasingly online and mobile society, about 30 percent of movers each year do not bother to complete the USPS's national change of address process. As a result, the NCOA file is not as accurate as it once was.
• In today's economy, the decline in consumer spending and rising postage costs for the marketer are making accurate data a critical must-have.
Surprisingly, most marketers still primarily rely on NCOA as their dominant tool to identify self-reported movers. While it might be easier than ever to update one's address—either in person, via mail or online—the fact remains that many consumers are not completing this information. In fact, on average, approximately 4 percent to 6 percent of marketers' files contain missed movers.