The Department 3 Blog
Direct Marketing ROI – 4 Ways Bad Data Drags It Down
June 1 2018, Michael Concannon
Bad data – data that’s false, incomplete, outdated, erroneous, redundant, or misleading? It’s just plain bad for business. Horrible, in fact: experts estimate bad data costs the U.S. economy $3 trillion per year. For a direct marketer whose livelihood depends on data, the problems can be even more catastrophic.
#1: Wasted time and wasted budget
Duplicated data is one of the biggest snafus for direct marketing campaigns. Whether the result of simple human error, an unfortunate effect of storing data in multiple archives, consumers inputting their own information more than once, or having different files with small variations in customer information (i.e. a customer entered as Robert Smith, but also as Bob Smith), duplicated data squanders precious marketing dollars and resources.
Dupes can fritter away a significant share of your budget and resources, particularly printing and delivery costs. Plus, duplicated data typically annoys the customer, who’s on the receiving end of identical marketing messages. As for sending direct marketing to an outdated address? That’s just plain useless for everyone, and in the case of email marketing, it won’t help an ESP look upon you any more favorably.
Bottom line? Duplicated data drains your direct marketing campaign resources, and can color customer attitudes.
#2: Difficult and inaccurate evaluation
Another way bad data can be wreaking havoc? Bad data makes it nearly impossible to effectively evaluate your campaigns and make the necessary tweaks or overhauls needed to maximize results.
Without accurate data, evaluating which marketing tactic or messaging will appeal most to a client essentially becomes an exercise in guesswork. Not to mention, if your DM campaign efforts are based on bad data, it hampers your ability to precisely evaluate the overall effectiveness of your campaign’s specific elements after its conclusion.
Making iterative improvements is a key strength of good marketing, driving greater engagement and ROI immediately and over time. Bad data, though, makes evaluating and improving marketing campaigns much tougher.
#3: Decaying data misses the bullseye
Customers change. Frequently. People move, take new jobs, marry, divorce, have children, or even pass away. Is your direct marketing data reflecting all of these important life changes? If not, it’s likely your DM efforts are missing their mark. According to conservative estimates, data decays at a rate of approximately 30% per year.
Without accurate, up-to-date information, leveraging prior and current customer data to formulate impactful, resonant marketing campaigns becomes a true uphill battle. Crappy data not only makes proper segmentation of your customer base impossible, it also jacks up the odds against creating moving, motivating messaging. Today, though, people expect on-the-mark personalization and customization like never before, and they’re sensitive to the fact they’re not getting it.
No one wants their direct marketing message to be sent to the wrong party, or at the wrong time. Or both! Unfortunately, bad data makes it all too likely to miss the marketing bulls-eye. Maybe by a very wide margin.
#4: Privacy and personalization efforts end up D.O.A.
Inaccurate data can lead to botched personalization attempts, which can have the effect of merely irritating or downright infuriating a customer. But aside from the annoyance you create by delivering an email with a misspelled name, bumbled personalization has a more lasting, serious effect on the brand-customer relationship.
Over time, mistakes in your direct marketing bruise your brand’s credibility and cause customers to be less and less interested in engagement. Enough off-target marketing might have them pitching your mailers in the trash without a second glance, routing your emails straight to the spam folder, and dropping your product or service entirely. As we mentioned above, they’ve become more attuned to personalization, because they’re getting it from other channels: smartphone apps, Netflix program suggestions, the AIs embedded in their household devices, and more. If you’re not delivering it, they’re going to know. And they’ll react accordingly.
There’s yet another downside to using faulty prospect or customer data. In an era where digital security is of utmost importance to consumers, mishandled or mixed-up customer data can create risks when it comes to privacy regulation compliance and cybersecurity.
In fact, according to the The Travelers Consumer Risk Index, American consumers are now more concerned about the security of their private information and personal data than their physical well-being.
Sending them the wrong offer at the wrong time? That’s guaranteed to corrode engagement, since it makes them suspect you haven’t got their best interests in mind. So they’ll turn to the competitor who’s using properly optimized data to correctly target their wants and needs.
The result? Inaccurate direct marketing data can damage a brand’s credibility, make your campaigns easy to ignore, and cause your audience some serious agita about safety, security, and privacy concerns. The net-net? You’re always better off investing in direct marketing data optimization.
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