Data Tips

Bad data can seriously diminish your prospecting & marketing efforts. Get your data clean… fast!

Big Data – How much knowledge of your customers is enough? How much is too much?

  Well it appears that the last post we did on bad data was quite the hit.  With that, it dawned on me to categorize our posts by issues that our readers gravitate toward.  Welcome to the new Data Series from Print Tech!

  A recent read on the website Clickz.com presented a post that discussed “Big Data”.  In the article, the writer discussed how the buzz word “Relevance” has taken a back seat to this new term.  The truth is, it appears to me to be nothing more than semantics.  Relevance in marketing is the idea that you use your knowledge of clients and prospects to deliver messages that have meaning at the group or individual level.  Big data is the relevant data used to achieve those meaningful messages.

  So what’s the point?  Well none really, but it does apply in a sense to my next point.  What information should you capture and how much is enough?

  Since the dawn of sales and marketing, people have been seeking ways to learn more about their customers’ needs.  I myself will ask questions before a meeting in order to deliver a message that caters to their concerns, rather than boring them with big box presentations.  I learned this technique after a few meetings where participants nodded off.

  The availability of data in today’s world can be a blessing and a curse.  Knowing what makes your audience tick can be a powerful tool, but it can also be a massive turn-off with potential for backlash.  Let’s face it, the idea of being watched makes many people in a free society uncomfortable.  The greatest recent examples I can think of occurred at Target retailers.  Target is absolutely one of the best examples of a company that knows how to collect, analyze and leverage data.  What I will present to you is a positive and negative example of their practices.  Hopefully you can make the call on the enough/too much debate when we are done.

Positive – Target Retailers had long been keeping track of customers’ buying habits by tracking their purchases.  After a long period of analyzing data, Target was ready to launch what would become one of the most successful mail campaigns ever recorded.  They created a piece with 20 variable fields and pulled data to offer coupons by product category based on customers’ past purchases.  As the unique barcodes were scanned, Target was able to track exactly who had responded and what they had redeemed.  The result was a 50% lift in response rates over previous static campaigns, proving that proper targeting of your customers can deliver positive measurable results.

Negative – This same approach caused a bit of a backlash when Target started to analyze data perhaps a bit too much.  By looking at purchase histories, Target was actually able to determine pregnancy with certain combinations. (Scary, eh?) In this case, Target started sending coupons for baby clothes and the like to a Minneapolis woman whose buying habits indicated an impending birth.  The issue arose when the young woman’s father checked the mail and noticed this marketing tactic.  The problem?  The woman was actually a teenager and had not told her parents about the pregnancy.  The irate father stormed into their local Target and demanded to know what was going on, insisting Target was encouraging his daughter to get pregnant.  The store manager, having no idea what was happening at the corporate level, apologized profusely.  He called back a  few days later to again apologize and was informed that the teen actually was pregnant!  Now there is no way to prove this, but I’d bet that family didn’t shop at Target again anytime soon.  Good data can be a real asset to any company, but as you can see, a company can go too far.

  So what does this mean for other businesses out there?  It means that proper targeting can enhance your customer engagement and bring much needed revenue to your company.  Just be careful how much information you reveal back to them.  The best place to start for most companies is a good data append.  Scrub your list through a provider to get the basics.  Depending on whether you are B-to-B or B-to-C, those basics can be vastly different, but in a world where data is king, you won’t have any trouble locating someone to assist your business.  After that, engaging your audience with offers in exchange for information will help you get that relevant data to help you truly understand your customers.  And if they willingly give you data, you can avoid any of the unpleasantries that Target experienced.

As an integrated marketing company, Print Tech has been providing data services for over 10 years.
If your data is in need of some cleaning, give us a call and see what good data can do for you!
(908) 232-2287
sales@print-tech.com

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Bad Data

A case for why more is not always more.

As a company that does a large volume of print & mail services, we are on a ton of mailing lists.  I recently came across a postcard that had the name of an employee that has not been with Print Tech for over 5 years.  Now I see this all the time, but this stuck out because it came from a prospect I had spoken to very recently regarding print & mail services.  A month later, I receive this card from said prospect with an invalid name.  Our address was correct however (this had recently changed), proving that the print/mail supplier was observing required practices with NCOA.

Since it was so recent I had spoken to the prospect, I had to give a call, right?  After contacting this person, I hung up the phone a bit stunned.  Here is the essence of the conversation:

Me: “I just wanted to let you know that I received this postcard in error as it came for someone who hasn’t been here for 5 years.  Now we recently spoke about some of our services and I followed up with some samples of my work, but now I’m calling for a different purpose.  Did you know that bad data could be costing you tons of money?  We had a non-profit client where we scrubbed close to 50% of their list to save them money.  Perhaps us scrubbing your list would be a good introduction to my company so you can evaluate if our services would be a good fit.”

Prospect: “Well our printer does it for free.  We don’t have them check the name, only the address.”

(Mind you, I have never had any conversation about price at this point.)

Me: “So you don’t care if your message gets to the right person, as long as it hits the right address?”

Prospect: “More or less.”

It was a little surprising to me that this was the stance the prospect took.  Now this is the part where I slap myself on the wrist.  It didn’t dawn on me until after the call, that this prospect doesn’t know what I know.  In my wild youth I worked for a company called Ikon and one of my jobs was to assist their clients with their mail room operations.

Did you know that every company from Enterprise Rent a Car to M&M Mars had the same mail policy?  If the person no longer works here, throw it out.  This applied to over 20 clients where we offered mail room support.  Therefore each bad name sent to those companies was a waste of print & postage.  Of course there was no way for the prospect to know this.  Nor might they have known that bad data can hurt your reputation for both businesses and residences.

Shame on me, as the expert, to not impart this wisdom.  So here I am sharing this with all of you.  I have seen clients with address lists so bad that it would have cost over $5000 in wasted print & postage if we had not scrubbed them.  Please don’t fall victim to this and make sure your data is clean.

Now excuse me.  I have a call I need to make to a prospect!