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The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Data

Written by Michelle Toivonen Director of Strategic Marketing

High-quality data (lists, mailing data preparation and tracking) is the most important part of your direct marketing campaign strategy. At least forty percent of your campaign’s success rate is attributable to your data.  Because we specialize in data management, hygiene, list acquisitions (especially the tough niche list pulls), match backs, attributions, and customer journey modeling, we’ve heard some interesting “theories” about data.


Here's some of the WORST advice we've ever heard about data

1. “Direct mail is dead. You only need to collect email addresses and social media handles.”

Worst Data 1

First, direct mail is far from dead, if anything it rules all of marketing. With direct mail response rates being so high, it is important to make sure you have the right data so the mail gets to the right place. This means collecting more than email addresses and social media handles.

You need to match to hard addresses, too. You can do that with our view-through pixel planted on your landing page. We can capture the IP address of your site visitor, then match it to a home address with 95% accuracy and send them a postcard or letter from you within 72 hours. This method of targeting has actualized 30% conversion rates!

Learn more about capturing web visitors and direct mail retargeting 

2. “There is nothing you can do about returned mail”

Worst Data 2

Companies spend a lot of money collecting physical addresses for direct mail, but then fail to take steps to correct the mail returned to them. Unsure of what to do, many marketers will just take those addresses off their lists. This is a shame because  It is often easier and cheaper to fix the data mistake in the address than it is to try and find a new prospect. CTRAC Direct, a division of Midwest Direct, can run your data through NCOALink® to clean up your mail database so you can update your contacts and don’t get so much returned mail.

Our Return Mail Deep Dive

Podcasts On Data Partnering Reviews including UAA Mail or Return Mail

3. “You can let everyone at your company manage their own list”

Worst Data 3

Everyone has a different way of doing things, whether it is how they put on their socks or how they manage their data. However, multiple formats can cause multiple problems. Here’s an example:

Scott from sales may include his client’s wife and kids names in his list, whereas MaryAnn from accounting includes how much the same client owes to the company. Though these are both valuable pieces of information to have, the additional and unmatched fields make it difficult to manage lists for marketing outreach. Sorting through all that “useless” information is going to be a nightmare for whoever is in charge of putting together the final list of Christmas card recipients.

It can be done, but it shouldn’t have to be. Put one person, your data steward, in charge of all the company data. It makes everything easier when it’s time to segment and send new campaigns. Your data steward can define the rules and keep all the data in one place and define the rules of the data so it is relevant to everyone, rather than one person.

4. “You only need to clean your list once a year”

Worst Data 4

Data hygiene, like personal hygiene, should be done continuously. When it comes to taking care of your teeth, you brush (hopefully) twice a day, to make sure your teeth stay healthy and strong. While you go to the dentist every 6 months,  you know you can’t rely on that alone to keep your teeth healthy. The same applies to your data. You need to routinely check and clean up your data. Sending it to NCOALink® will help you keep it clean -- but only if you update your files with the clean data. (Yes -- we know how many of you are afraid to import new data!). Many marketers ask us to run a NCOALink® check and then let it expire because they are unsure of what to do with it. Without routinely performing data audits, address issues can remain unresolved and returned mail can easily build up. If you are stuck (or just a little scared) to update your data, give us a call. We’re experts at handling data and can help you sleep better at night.

Partner with our Data Team and Get the Data Insights You Need

5. “There’s not much you can do with the crazy stuff people add to data fields in online form fills.”

Worst Data 5

Data collected on websites is the worst! Most people don’t follow the rules, they will put random information in or even worse, let Google fill it out for them. You will get a phone number where the address is supposed to be or a zip code instead of a phone extension. It’s madness! The information you get off websites is maybe 50% accurate -- if that. We can help you implement a screening system to sort out real leads from the junk.

Learn How We Help Companies Manage Data Collection for Better Data-Driven Marketing Results

Want advice on data you can trust? CTRAC Direct, a division of Midwest Direct, has been in the data business for over forty years. You can trust our data experts to help you capture, clean keep and capitalize on your data. Contact us to learn more.

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