Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Top tips for gathering clean customer data

Using incorrect contact details annoys customers, damages brands and kills repeat sales. Bad email addresses prevent communication, waste time and money and get companies blacklisted. Read on for top tips to help you gather clean data and avoid common data-quality mistakes.


Personal data from online shoppers tends to be accurate. Contact details for newsletter sign-ups, quote forms, abandoned carts or requests for information can be sloppy. This sloppy data leaves marketers wasting time and resources. There is an obvious above the line cost for “return to sender” post, but the cost for sending out hard and soft bouncing emails is more subtle. Your company reputation can be hit when ISPs mark you with a poor sender rating. Each time you send bouncing emails the likelihood of future emails being delivered safely to inboxes decreases. Avoid this. Make your marketing more effective. Make your data accurate in the first place.

Top tips for gathering clean online data

  • Make it easy to get it right. Customers may type badly in the first place, but if you don’t clean dodgy data it will be your reputation that takes a knock.
  • Make forms clear and simple, comply with accessibility standards
  • Avoid colours and patterned backgrounds
  • Provide enough fields and character spaces for long addresses
  • Use drop-down address checks like QAS
  • Check names are valid with verification ticks and repeated opportunities for self-check
  • Use a two-step email system that requires a response from the reader, or a software service to get email addresses verified when they are entered
  • Format postcode fields in uppercase and numeric telephone fields
  • Don’t force all upper case unless you routinely download and clean data to mixed case, or you will just SHOUT AT CUSTOMERS FOR EVER
  • Ask shoppers to subscribe to newsletters with a single click when they have completed all address details. Give them the opportunity to check and verify their contact details.
  • Use mystery shoppers to test your site

Top tips for gathering clean data in person; face-to-face and on the phone.

At exhibitions and events people give false information to get freebies or because they don’t trust your data policy. Staff rush and guess at misheard information. You can get over these hurdles and capture good data to maximise your return on investment.
  • At exhibitions use badge-scanners
  • Instruct staff to write in block capitals and be personally responsible by initialling forms
  • Tell your team how much the event costs so they value each contact
  • Back-up enquiry forms with a good prize draw to double check email addresses
  • Have a data policy that is 100% robust and honest and display it clearly
  • Make sure staff are confident at expressing it
On the phone, check contact details in real time, training staff to ask how to spell names and repeat addresses. Training should include coping with regional accents.
Use an email “ping” process, manual or automated. If emails bounce back, a quick phone call can get you correct details.
Above all, get your data clean and keep it clean. If your contact or email address data is letting you down have it cleaned and verified by professionals.

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