Data Hygiene and Data Enhancement Lead to Data Quality and Superior Membership Marketing Results

February 24, 2016   |   Vol. 15   |   Issue 2
By Tom Beauchamp, MGI Vice President of Operations

Data Hygiene and Data Enhancement Lead to Data Quality and Superior Membership Marketing Results

A whopping 94 percent of companies, across all levels, have experienced internal challenges when trying to improve their data quality.”
Experian’s 2016 Global Data Management Benchmark Report

The rise in popularity of big data, as well as the idea that having more and increasingly accurate data can lead to a host of desirable marketing outcomes, has also brought about the popularity of Data Hygiene and Data Enhancement.

We have all heard the saying “Garbage in, Garbage out.” Deficient data is a major problem in our industry today. According to The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI), 26 percent of data quality problems are caused by data entry errors, including typos and misspellings, and 25% of all mail pieces have address deliverability issues, such as incorrect zip codes, missing apartment and suite numbers, and incorrect street addresses. Data aging is yet another problem. The quality of data is constantly changing, which can make it difficult to keep up-to-date. Individuals get married, change their names, get divorced, and die. People and companies move—more than 40 million Americans (1 in 6) move annually. As a result, data that was once accurate quickly becomes outdated, with the quality of stored U.S. address data declining 17 percent each year (USPS).

A variety of existing tools and services are available to combat data hygiene issues.

  • Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) – CASS software will validate, correct, and standardize customer address data to the USPS’s preferred formatting of an address.
  • Apartment Appending and Suite Link™ – Improves deliverability and response rates by appending apartment to home addresses and suite numbers to business addresses that cannot be Zip+4 coded.
  • National Change of Address (NCOA) Link™ – The NCOA Link™ database is the most comprehensive change of address service offered by the USPS. NCOA Link™ includes over 160 million address changes and 48 months worth of moves from individuals, families, and businesses. NCOA is required at least every 95 days on data that is being mailed, and non-compliance results in penalties.
  • Proprietary Change of Address (PCOA) – PCOA typically contains moves dating back farther than the typical 48 months offered by the USPS NCOA Link™, often as far back as 72 to 96 months. These data include people who have moved but not completed a change-of-address form with the USPS.
  • Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service (Do not mail file) – This DMA file is available to be run against your prospect data in order to remove those people who have opted out of receiving direct mail solicitations.
  • Deceased Suppression – The Social Security Administration’s deceased file contains over 86 million deceased records. The file is matched against mail data to identify and remove these people from your data.
  • Email Validation – Effective email validation services can identify invalid, fake, or bad email addresses by as much as 98%, which leads to higher open, click, and conversion rates.
  • Merge-Purge and De-Duplication – Duplicate data stored in a company’s system are on the rise and jumped from 32% to 51% from 2014 to 2015 (Experian). These duplicates need to be identified and eliminated as they can cause a host of different problems on their own. A good de-duplication and suppression process can identify exact matches as well as close matches such as nicknames, typo’s in name, title, organization or other issues that would otherwise cause these records to slip through.

Good Data Hygiene is a must and should be an ongoing project and process for your organization. Putting such a plan in place will continue to ensure the accuracy of new data and the updating of legacy data being captured and imported into your systems. It is also an important prerequisite to Data Enhancement.

Once your data is clean and up-to-date, you can start the process of Data Enhancement.

Data Enhancement provides additional appends, or data points, to your data that increase segmentation, personalization, and accuracy…and have the potential to enhance your overall targeting and insights. Data privacy should be kept in mind when performing a data enhancement to avoid appending or using any sensitive data or data that could be viewed as a violation of your prospect, member, or company’s privacy. For international prospects, Privacy Laws vary by country.

There are 3 main types of data appends: consumer, business/company, and contact.

  1. Consumer Data Appending – Provides information and appends for individual or household level demographic, psychographic, and lifestyle data (e.g., date of birth, gender, income and net worth level, education level, automotive information, mortgage, marital status, magazine and subscription purchases, donations, political affiliation).
  2. Business/Company Appending – Provides information and appends at the business/company level (e.g., SIC and NAIC codes, overall number of employees, number of employees by location, revenue, number of years in business, number of locations, parent and branch identification, industry, technologies used).
  3. Contact Level Data Appending – Provides information and appends for contact data and can be done at the individual, household, or business/company level (e.g., mailing address, email address, home, business, and cell phone numbers, various social media user names, handles, and links).

Deciding which data points to append should be based on what you plan to do with the new data points and how they can contribute to both your short- and long-term goals. For example, one organization with education level eligibility requirements was able to save time and money on their marketing campaigns by appending education level. Using this data point, the group was able to eliminate 15% of their prospects who were not eligible for their product.

According to Experian’s 2016 Global Data Management Benchmark Report, 32% of surveyed companies cite that their lack of knowledge, resources, and skills when it comes to data quality is also their biggest challenge.

Choosing the right partner, tool, or solution to perform data hygiene and data enhancement can mean the difference between being a data zero (bad data, not data driven, intuition based) and a data hero (good data hygiene and effective/efficient data-driven marketing that is measurable).

Contact Tom Beauchamp, MGI’s Vice President of Operations, and find out more about all the good things MGI can do for your data and your marketing plan. Tom can be reached at or (703) 706-0377.

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