Here Nikki Fox from CCR Data (the AMA Conference 2015 Supporter) explains the benefits of deduplication.
Customer Data is the lifeblood of any arts venue – without it where would the marketing, customer service and finance departments be? And yet, there is a big data problem amongst many arts organisations in the UK. The issue is duplication. In other words, many of their customers appear more than once on a customer database.
It might not sound like a huge challenge but, at a time when most marketers are striving to improve the performance and efficiency of their campaigns, duplicate records have the potential to create real business issues. When we’re asked to look into it for them we have found some databases have up to 30% duplicate records. So what impact can duplicate records have?
The problem with duplicates
Well, the first and most obvious issue is wastage of your marketing budget. If you send five of the same brochure or what’s on guide to one person, that’s like pouring money down the drain as you have to pay for duplicate print and postage costs, and you may also end up paying more for unnecessary data storage. In addition, it has a negative effect on response rates and so the overall ROI of your campaign.
Secondly, you can harm your brand’s reputation as a result of bombarding one customer with a multiplicity of mailings – it looks unprofessional and any green credentials of a brand fly straight out the window. Indeed, in analysis it released last year, Gartner quantified the impact of bad data management, identifying that annoying customers in this way can result in a 25% reduction in potential revenue gains.
Our deduplication technology uses a phonetic matching engine. This ties together records which appear similar and can be defined as the same. Take the example of Stephen Jones and Steven Jones both listed as living at 1 The Road, London. Phonetics will identify these similar records.
The benefits of accurate deduplication
The core benefit of deduplication is the direct cost saving. Imagine knowing that you were mailing 1,000 individuals twice and then think of the associated cost and potential brand damage. Deduplication vastly improves data quality and campaign success.
- Identifies and groups customers that exist in the same dwelling
- Creates a single customer view by merging data
- Identifies returning customers
- Increases return on investment
- Improves environmental credentials
Once duplicates have been identified at the required level and master records selected, duplicates need to be managed. This can be done in many ways and again will vary dependant on a client’s requirements.
- Flag & exclude duplicates from future campaigns?
- Delete all duplicated from the system?
- Merge duplicate records?
The most effective method is to merge duplicates. This not only reduces wasted direct marketing spend but enables the following:
- Accurate, cost effective data cleaning
- Create and maintain a single customer view
- Retain valuable contact history
- Keep field variables i.e. email
Managing duplicates is an on-going process and should be assessed at every juncture to ensure that the knock on effects caused by duplicate records can be limited.
Keep it clean
Once you have a clean database, it’s important to keep it that way and there are several things you can do. For a start, you should create more rigorous processes up front, such as stricter quality control on data capture or restrictions on who can create new data records. You also need to build duplicate management into your ongoing database strategy, assessing it regularly (and particularly prior to campaigns).
Obviously it costs money to deduplicate your database, but it’s worth the investment as the costs are likely to be significantly lower than the money (and brand reputation) that you will lose otherwise. For example, assuming a mailpack cost of 45p, if you are doing a mailing to 100,000 customers of which 20% are duplicates, deduplication will save you £9,000.
To assess your data and gain an accurate picture of your duplicates contact CCR for a free data audit.
Nikki Fox is Business Development Executive at CCR Data.