We often talk about the value of high-quality, clean data. But sometimes numbers speak more than words, which is why the researchers at The Data Warehousing Institute decided to get to the bottom of this data hygiene problem and just how much it’s costing businesses. The result was more than even we expected. The study shows that businesses are losing around $600 billion annually thanks to poor data hygiene. But how are businesses losing so much business on a yearly basis? A DemandGen survey showed that around 40% of the information used to try and drum up new business is inaccurate.
From marketing to customer relations to finance and lead generations, businesses struggled with connecting to their customer base, leading to a huge cumulative loss in revenue. With shocking figures like this, it’s hard to understand why businesses wouldn’t invest in their data hygiene. Perhaps they aren’t aware of the severity of this problem, which makes looking at the issue of data hygiene seem less than exciting. But, armed with this jaw-dropping information, it’s easy to see why you should make data hygiene a key portion of your business and marketing plan. To create a worthwhile plan for data hygiene, you need to fully understand the issue.
Data Hygiene 101 – What Causes Bad Data?
-Outdated data: Even good data expires. That’s why it’s important to regularly update your current list. If an email address expires or changes, sending emails out to it can lead to hard bounces which negatively affect your sender score, making it harder for you to reach users.
-Duplicate data: Duplicate data occurs when someone submits their information multiple times. If unchecked, this type of data causes you to send multiple emails to the same address. Though this behavior doesn’t break any rules that will automatically effect your sender score, it can become very annoying to the user. When a user is annoyed with your communication, they’ll either unsubscribe or send you to spam, ruining your relationship with the customer and the email service provider.
-Incomplete or incorrect data: Incomplete data simply doesn’t serve you well, nor does incorrect data. Both entries leave you in the dangerous position of either sending mail to a user that didn’t explicitly ask for it, landing you in the spam folder, or sending to an email that doesn’t exist, once again resulting in a hard bounce.
The most basic data hygiene solution is implementing a verification process. It’s important to verify at the point of access, where the user is inserting their information, and to regularly upload your current list to a bulk email verifier. This process protects you on the front end and in the future. By implementing a real-time verifier, you’re able to stop false data from making its way into your pipeline. Then following it up with regular checks to keep your data up to date protects your sales and marketing people from wasting time and resources trying to connect with users that aren’t there.
Once you’ve gone through the process of identifying the information that is leaving a stain on your data hygiene, you need to know what to do with it. Actions to take depend on the type of bad data you’re dealing with.
-Hard bounces: Addresses that are coming up as hard bounces need to be immediately removed from your lists. The longer these dormant emails remain on your list, the more hard bounces you will receive and the more your sender score will suffer.
-Unengaged users: This group is filled with users that are no longer opening your emails. It may be a sign that this email address has been abandoned, but has not yet been removed from the ESP. In other words, there’s a good chance that this email is in danger of returning hard bounces, and should be moved to a separate list or completely deleted.
-Use opt in only practices: When a user gives you their email and they are fully aware of what that email address is being used for, it’s more likely the email will be accurate and useful. This is why we advise businesses to use opt in only tactics. Buying lists opens you up to a slew of inaccurate information, and at the very least, increases your chances of being rerouted to spam. For the sake of your data hygiene, and the good name of your business, it’s best practice to only use opt in lists.
-Ask to be whitelisted: Being whitelisted tells ESPs that your domain is trustworthy and should be sent to all their users. It is also the best way to make sure you make it into the user’s inbox. When you have your list verified, ask users to whitelist you to make sure they’re receiving all your great content.
Correcting Human Error
Though some false data can be attributed to suspicious activity or malicious bots, many false or incorrect emails are due to human error. More people are browsing the web on their phones than their computers. This leaves a huge margin for error, which leaves a huge potential for poor data hygiene. The best way to combat this is to implement a real-time email verification. This way, emails are corrected as the user imputes their information. The real time API helps you by eliminating bad data before it makes its way into your pipeline, but it also helps the user by eliminating the frustrating process of typing and retyping their email.
How to Implement:
Implementing a data hygiene strategy is pertinent to the success of your business, but the right balance of data verification is different for each company. The amount of data you’re taking in on a monthly basis will determine how frequently you should go back through your email list and update it. The best first steps you can take are to implement a real-time email verifier on your site. Then, bulk upload your current list to weed out the bad data that you already have in your system. To get a better idea of when you should go back through your list, pay attention to your open rates and your hard bounce rates. When either of those metrics starts to increase, you should run through your data again. Staying on top of your data hygiene can feel cumbersome and overwhelming, but luckily XVerify is here to help you with all your data hygiene needs. Let us prove it with a free trial!