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Whitepaper: The Importance of Clean Data
17.07.2017

Whitepaper: The Importance of Clean Data

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Every company relies on data, whether it is ensuring correct contact details for clients, gaining true insights into how your business works, or producing accurate sales figures and predictions. Impediments to the quality of data can therefore be catastrophic; an estimate from research conducted by IBM revealed that the yearly cost of bad data in 2016 was around $3.1 trillion - and that is just the US alone.

Having clean, high quality data is essential for the success of your business; according to Internet Retailer, 29 percent of companies have lost customers due to inaccurate data in their email management services. Despite the obvious need to keep things clean,  a study conducted by Dynamic Markets found that a shocking 94 percent of businesses suspect that their customer data is wrong or incomplete.

DATA QUALITY CHALLENGES

In today's fast-paced business world, changes are made to company information at astronomical rates. For example, research by StartUp Britain found that there are currently 80 new businesses every single hour, in the UK alone. Furthermore, a study conducted by Target Marketing found that over 70 percent of businesspeople had made some kind of change within a 12 month period, and as the graph below using this data shows, these changes could be a number of things.  

These alterations can be bad news for your business; for example, oftentimes if you lose contact with an employee in a certain company it can mean you no longer have a direct means of reaching out to that company as a whole, and are left having to go through the potentially time-consuming process of finding another route in once again.

As well as data that is not up to date, there is also the problem of dealing with general erroneous entries in your database. As is shown in the table below from SoftwareAG, these errors can take on many forms and are all too easily created when manually entering information into databases; for example, 5 percent of manually entered email addresses are done so incorrectly, according to SYNTHio.

QUALITY DATA AND MARKETING SUCCESS

THE COST OF BAD DATA

According to Back Office Associates, 53 percent of companies have suffered losses, problems or costs due to poor quality data. Perhaps the most obvious of these are the financial implications; unclean data costs $83 for every 100 records in a database, according to ReachForce, and it is therefore the primary reason why 40 percent of all business initiatives fail to reach their targeted benefits, so says research from Gartner.

Bad data also wastes your company's valuable time; according to the Harvard Business Review staff members spend up to 50 percent of their time hunting for data, looking for and correcting mistakes and searching for authoritative sources in order to confirm data they are suspicious of. With all of this in mind it is no wonder that data quality affects overall labour productivity by as much as 20 percent, as notes Gartner.

The burden of bad data can also lay heavily on your employees. With marketing campaigns less likely to be successful your staff can become disheartened and therefore unmotivated. What's more, the constant need to make seek out and correct errors is likely to see them becoming frustrated and even resentful. As your staff become less and less driven your revenue will be hit as a direct result.

THE BENEFITS OF CLEAN DATA

Having clean data benefits your marketing efforts in a number of ways; in fact, research from Target Marketing suggests that between 50 and 75 percent of b2b marketing campaigns success is dependent on the accuracy of the data involved.

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of clean data is the savings to time and money, as you eliminate the wasted hours spent correcting errors and pursuing dead-end leads thanks to incorrect contact information. Another important advantage is the ability to create more advanced and accurate analytics. Whether this is in the form of sales predictions, buyer personas, customer growth, or something else entirely, having accurate and up to date data is vital.

Clean data can also be a huge factor in customer experience; according to Back Office Associates, company's that have high quality, business-driven data see a 57 percent increase in customer satisfaction.

THE CLEANSING PROCESS

Cleansing - or 'scrubbing' - your data means identifying and correcting any errors or anomalies. This can be completed once the information has entered your database, however we advise taking care of it beforehand. As is shown in the diagram below from the Principles of Data Quality (Chapman 2005), the cost of correcting an error increases as it moves along the chain.

 

There are two ways that businesses can carry out the process; manually or electronically. Both of these have their own benefits and drawbacks, so ultimately it is down to you to determine which will be more appropriate for your business.

MANUAL DATA CLEANSING

If you choose to manually clean your database(s), this will require a member of staff sifting through batches of the data in order to look for errors. Although considered an outdated method by some, manual checking naturally offers an unrivalled level of thoroughness, providing those carrying it out are organised and take a methodical approach to the process.

There are a number of parts involved, including:

Although a manual cleanse is preferential, performing a thorough check can prove to be extremely time-consuming, and therefore may not be an ideal option for both small businesses with few members of staff, and those with large quantities of data.

ELECTRONIC DATA CLEANSING

Companies that wish to have their data electronically cleansed can look into computer applications that are designed to find and then fix certain errors in the database, using a set of rules that the software has been programmed with, depending on the needs of the user. For example, the tool could be used to carry out spell checks, remove duplicate records, or remove files that have remained inactive for a predetermined amount of time.

The main disadvantage with electronic cleansing, along with the costs involved, is that obviously, no matter how sophisticated the technology involved, it cannot compare to a check from careful human eyes, and therefore cannot offer the same degree of accuracy that a manual cleanse can.

AN ONGOING PROCESS

It is vitally important to remember that data cleansing is not a one-time solution; big data is constantly changing and therefore the information in your database will need to be checked and updated regularly. According to research from Marketing Sherpas, b2b data decays at a rate of 2.1 percent each month, or 22.5 percent every year. This means that no matter how meticulously you search for errors and how much time you spend correcting them, your data will still need regular maintenance.

With this in mind, your company should put together a system so that in the future your team knows exactly what steps to take when carrying out the cleanse, as well as the timeframe between each one. Though this will inevitably take some time if you choose to do it manually, ultimately it is worth it in order to ensure that your data is as healthy as possible.

Although it can potentially be a costly and time-consuming process, data cleansing is vital to the overall success of your marketing strategy, as well as keeping your company's costs to a minimum. In order to ensure you are arming your staff with accurate data in order to perform their job functions, your business will need to make a commitment to consistent cleansing going forward, or you risk undoing all of the good work you have done.

Global Solutions – a Simpler Solution

If your company is looking to save time and money when it comes to data cleansing then Global Database could have an ideal solution for you. Our business intelligence covers 195 countries worldwide, and comes with an impressive accuracy rating of 93 percent; one of the highest in the industry.

In fact, our commitment to data accuracy is at the heart of everything we do; our patented web crawling technology updates our databases every day, and unlike many of our competitors we also have a team of 100 in-house employees to manually search for inaccurate and outdated information.

A one-off payment with no hidden charges ensures you have access to the database for a whole year; meaning you don't have to worry about data cleansing as we take care of it for you, and with free and unlimited exports to Excel you can ensure that your email marketing campaigns run as smoothly as possible.

Ready to find out what we can do for you? Contact us on +44 203 640 6006 or info@globaldatabase.com