By Rick Miller: Business Development Director, Valid


This two-part blog series addresses the similarities between cleaning your dirty laundry and instituting a master data quality strategy. 

Sorting and Preparing

Colors, Whites, Polyester, Cotton, just like your laundry it is important to sort and prepare your data assets prior to undertaking a master data quality initiative. My experience shows that not taking the time to properly sort and prepare data results in budget and project timeline overruns, as well as disjoined data which can impact business decisions, as well as the customer’s experience with a brand.

Names, addresses, promotional history, transactions, account numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, financial, social, operational, etc.; disparate data sources must be identified and categorized.

The process of “sorting and preparing” is addressed during the data discovery phase of your master data quality initiative.  Some of the questions the discovery process looks to answer include:

  • What are the datasets that should be included?
  • How complete is the data? Does it need to be supplemented?
  • What internal business unit is responsible for the datasets (IT, marketing, finance, etc.)?
  • What 3rd party or external data sources should be included?
  • What is the frequency each of the datasets, internal or external, are available?

These questions are but a few of the ones that will be put forth as part of a data discovery process. It is a critical step that should not be overlooked. When done properly, with dedicated resources, it will produce a more cost effective, timely outcome with actionable data as the end result.  Clean, actionable data allows your brand to provide better customer experiences.

Once you have sorted and prepared your data, you need to choose the right detergent or in data processing terms, processes, protocols, and procedures, which will be part of your master data quality solution.

Choosing the Right Detergent (Processes, Protocols, and Procedures)

Liquid, powdered, single-dose pack, fragrance free, dye free, with bleach, color safe – the options when selecting the best detergent to fit your laundry needs can seem overwhelming.  This can also be the case when selecting options for your data quality initiatives as well.

There is an exponential growth of data sources available to B2C and B2B marketers in the industry today. As a direct result, marketers are required to carefully evaluate available processes, protocols, and procedures in order to achieve the desired result of actionable and reliable data.

Data quality service providers give marketers access to licensed and proprietary products. These services should be utilized to cleanse and enhance their data sources which may include name & address as well as phone numbers, email addresses, social data, transaction level data, demographic & firmographic data, etc.

Some of the licensed products marketers should consider include:

  • Change of Address – Preferably a 48-month (full service) licensee
  • CASS Certification – Updates Your Data with The Proper City, State, Zip, Zip+4
  • Prison / Correctional Institution Identification
  • Deceased Individual Identification
  • Direct Marketing Association Do Not Mail Registry
  • National and State Do Not Call Registries
  • Demographic Data Enhancement – Income, Presence of Children, Occupation, Lifestyle, etc.
  • Firmographic Data Enhancement – SIC Codes, # of Employees, Sales Volume, etc.

Service providers also offer proprietary solutions to marketers which may include:

  • Data Transformation/Normalization
  • Change of Address – Enhanced file allowing for additional updates beyond 48 month licensed file mentioned above
  • Address Quality Index – Scoring algorithm to rank address deliverability
  • Data Element Profiling – Particularly useful when cleansing B2B data that includes departments, titles, etc.
  • Duplicate Record Identification – Look for service provider to support the intricacies of both B2C and B2B data
  • Best Kept Record Scoring – Allows for most complete record to be selected when consolidating duplicates
  • Profanity Suppression – Screening of individual fields for presence of profanity for suppression purposes

These are only a few of the available services as part of the data quality service provider engagement. When considering all options available to you, a combination of licensed and proprietary products should be utilized to insure clean, actionable data that will allow you to provide better multi-channel customer experiences.

Once you have determined the proper detergent (processes, protocols and procedures) for your data, you need to determine how often you need to “wash your laundry”, or in data management terms, institute a scheduled process to insure the ongoing quality of your data is maintained.  We will learn more about that in the next installment of this series. Stay tuned!