- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On April 8, 2016
- Email marketing
Marketing today is data driven. You need data to send emails, send ground mail, send invitations to events, make sales calls and check on customer’s records when they come into your store.
Everything runs off computers. Computers don’t understand uncertainty. Everything in a computer’s world is black or white. Your data is right or it’s wrong.
When you send an email to one of your customers called “Alan” you want the email to say “Dear Alan” not “Dear Jane”. But if your customer database is a mess, you can easily end up addressing “Alan” as “Jane”.
It’s not about size
Before I worked at Wainscot I was a sales consultant. In my consulting travels I worked with many small companies on their sales and marketing operations. Whenever I would meet a company for the first time I would ask them about their marketing and sales database. Inevitably the president of the company would tell me they had a prospect/customer database of “over 10,000 records”.
In my first couple of consulting assignments I was impressed when people told me that. “That’s a large database,” I would think to myself. “Generating revenue for these guys through that large a marketing database won’t be too hard.” But after a week, or so, of digging I would nearly always come up with the same observation: “This database is big and almost useless”.
In fact, the size of the database turned out to be one of the biggest problems. The database was indeed large but 95% of the data in the database was not useful.
Is your data complete?
One big issue in these databases was missing data. The bigger your database grows the bigger the problem caused by missing data. Missing data causes errors and makes it impossible to sort and filter the records in your database.
Sorting and filtering data in your database turns out to be critical. For example, say you want to look at a list of your customers vs. your prospects. To do this you need to have a field in your database that tags someone as a customer. If this field does not exist, you cannot find just your customers. If you have 10,000 records in your database but only 100 customers (a normal ratio in real life) you don’t want to scroll through 10,000 records to find the 100 customers; doing so would take you a few hours.
Even if you do have this “customer” field, what if this field is not filled in correctly for all 100 customers? In that case you are going to miss some of your customers on your list. Say someone forgot to fill in this field for 4-5 customers (I’ve seen this many times) then 4-5 customers will not appear on your list. And what if you use this list to invite customers to a special event you are having? 4-5 of your customers will not get an invitation.
Is your data correct?
Say you have all the data complete in your database–unlikely but let’s dream for a moment. But what if some of the data is not correct?
Maybe you’re simply dealing with a typo. Someone typed “cstomer” instead of “customer” in the field you are using to identify which records are customers and which are prospects. Now you get the same effect as in the previous example. The customer record with the tag “cstomer” will not come up in your report that lists your 100 customers. This customer is not going to get their invitation to your special event.
One of the most obvious places data errors show up these days is in email lists. It only takes one character to be incorrect and your email will not go through. Just yesterday in our customer email list I found an email spelled firstname.lastname@example.org for a gentleman called “Frank Smyth”. The email bounced. It’s a pretty good assumption that Frank’s email address is email@example.com not firstname.lastname@example.org but in the heat of a busy day it’s so easy to make a typo like this.
Your marketing database may seem like one of the most boring things in your business. And spending time fixing it may seem just about as exciting as doing your taxes. But the data in your database is also one of the most important assets your local business has in today’s digital age. It may be boring but it may also be pure gold.