Data is arguably the most powerful and valuable resource marketers can leverage. Data-driven insights can be used to promote strong loyalty communications and intelligent prospect audience identification.
The problem is that companies’ customer data becomes outdated each year as consumers move and change addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. The average consumer dataset decays at a rate of 25% – 30% per year, and business data decay rates can be even higher.
That’s where data hygiene comes in. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about data hygiene—including best practices—to help you improve the quality of your database.
What Is Data Hygiene?
Data hygiene is the process of keeping databases clean and error-free. Data that is outdated, incomplete, duplicated, or simply incorrect is known as “dirty data.”
A data hygiene solution improves the quality of your data by cleansing errors and irregularities, standardizing addresses, flagging undesirable profiles, and improving overall usability. Clean customer data provides a solid foundation for direct mail, online advertising, the application of data services, and more. For the best results, we recommend that every data hygiene process includes:
- Conducting an audit or Data Quality Report to assess your current data
- Establishing data governance
- Creating uniform standards (like abbreviating “Street” to “St.”)
- Validating customer records and addresses against an external data source
- Suppressing unhelpful data (like deceased customers) and removing duplicate records
- Appending or enriching data to fill in the gaps in your database
For optimal results, data hygiene should not be a one-time process. Instead, establish a regular data hygiene routine to keep your data accurate and actionable.
Why Is Data Hygiene Essential?
Marketing teams rely on accurate, clean data to engage in personalized campaigns that show the largest returns on investments (ROI). Inaccurate customer data can result in wasted resources, dissatisfied customers, and financial losses from missed revenue opportunities.
Undergoing a robust data hygiene process brings several benefits to teams across your organization, such as:
- Improved data quality — Data is more accurate, valuable, and actionable.
- Informed decision-making — Stakeholders and business leaders can make strategic decisions based on reliable data.
- Enhanced customer relationships — Customers perceive organizations as being more personable and sharing their values, leading to increased brand loyalty.
Data hygiene processes can also help organizations adhere to privacy regulations. For example, Do Not Mail and Do Not Call suppression can help companies respect their customers’ privacy.
Improve Your Data Quality With Hygiene Best Practices
High-quality data is essential for operating a successful business. Here are the data hygiene best practices you can implement to ensure your data remains clean and actionable.
Establish Data Governance
Data quality is everyone’s responsibility: From frontline employees to C-suite leadership, the practices for handling customer contact information, mission-critical data, and proprietary materials are vital to an organization’s success.
A proper data governance framework can help keep your database in order and ensure your data stays high quality. Proper data governance includes an initial Data Quality Report or audit to understand the current state of your database. It’s also crucial to designate a data steward who is responsible for master data files and special data hygiene projects.
Furthermore, a standard operating procedure (SOP) should accompany initial training for new hires. These SOPs designate data ownership, management processes, and the consequences of non-compliance.
With senior leadership buy-in and a focus on data management, you can improve your data’s quality throughout collection, storage, and manipulation—ensuring that information is as accurate as possible.
Create Uniform Data Standards
Dirty data isn’t the only problem that data hygiene solves; a data hygiene process can correct inconsistencies that occur throughout data collection and manual data entry. Variations in abbreviations or formatting can make it difficult to use your data, confuse team members, or result in duplicate records.
To prevent inconsistencies, set uniform standards across your organization. These standards should be included in every team member’s training. For example, decide if you want address abbreviations like “St.” or the non-abbreviated “Street.”
Implementing consistent formatting for data entry across all departments can keep your data clean between data hygiene processes.
Validate All Data
Even with the best standard operating procedures (SOPs) and data hygiene processes, how can you be sure your data is correct? A common practice companies use to verify their information is using an external data source, like Deep Sync, to validate their data.
A reputable data partner can validate residential postal addresses and provide updated postal addresses where applicable. Services such as CASS™ System, DSF2®, LACSLINK®, and
NCOALINK® are commonly used by data providers for address verification. Providers can also transform messy, fragmented data into accurate and unified customer records.
While validating and correcting your current data is crucial to a company’s success, it’s also helpful to enlist a data partner to suppress unhelpful data. A suppression service can rid your database of children under 18, incarcerated individuals, deceased customers, and more.
During the data hygiene process, you may also notice some gaps in your data. A data enrichment process or data append can supplement your existing customer data.
Regularly Update Your Data
In the first half of 2023, 8,690,653 consumers reported an address change. As customers move, get married, change their email addresses and phone numbers, or change their names, companies must update their databases accordingly. Consumer datasets decay at an average rate of 25% – 30% per year, making routine data hygiene critical.
Deep Sync offers thorough and complete data hygiene solutions, including address verification and correction. Due to an exclusive relationship with the United States Postal Service, Deep Sync can match a consumer record to their current home address—providing the most up-to-date contact information for each consumer.
Data hygiene should not be a one-time process; routine data hygiene processes can address data quality issues before they impact your business.
Keep Data Clean With Deep Sync’s Data Hygiene Solutions
Data hygiene and suppression services cleanse errors and irregularities, standardize addresses, flag undesirable profiles, and improve the overall usability of first-party data. Whether preparing your customer data for direct mail, online advertising, or additional data services, data hygiene and suppression can create a solid foundation. These processes are essential for launching new products, engaging in new marketing campaigns, and maintaining your competitive edge.
Don’t trust just anyone with your data hygiene needs. Instead, partner with Deep Sync. Our industry knowledge, expertise, exclusive partnerships, and robust data can help you ensure your data is as clean and actionable as possible. Contact us today to schedule your strategy session and start cleaning up your first-party data!