Cleaning and Enhancing Data for Better Membership Marketing


Perhaps one of the most talked about topics in membership marketing today is data.  Topics range from cleaning data to appending third party information to member and customers records.  The reason for this increased focus is that good data empowers more efficient marketing and leads to better targeting and results.
Poor data is a major problem.  The USPS estimates that “almost 25% of all mail pieces have something wrong with the address -- for instance, a missing apartment number or a wrong ZIP Code.”  And 17 percent of Americans change their address annually.
But there are tools available to improve data hygiene and scrub your current and former membership data.  You can contract for them through a full service agency or mail house or lease these tools as part of your CRM software.  These tools include:
1.      Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) – CASS software will standardize mailing addresses to the USPS’s preferred presentation of the address.  It can also add missing information like an incorrect ZIP code.

2.      National Change of Address (NCOA) – NCOA includes over 160 million address changes from individuals, families, and business that have been provide to the USPS going back as far as 48 months.

3.      Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service --   The DMA allows people to opt-out of receiving direct mail solicitations.  This file is available to identify those in your database who do not wish to receive mailings.

4.      Social Security Administration (SSA) Deceased File – This database contains 86 million deceased records to help remove these people from your database.  In a recent running of this file, we matched .4% of the current and former members of one organization matched the SSA database.

5.      Merge, Purge, and De-Duplication – Invariably duplicate records will find their way into anyone’s database.  The merge-purge process identifies matching records based on an algorithm and highlights duplicate contacts even when they are not an exact match (different spellings of names or work versus home addresses).
 
Keep in mind that these data hygiene tools are not a onetime fix, but a regular practice that needs to be done to maintain accurate records.  And once you have gone through the cleaning process, be sure to establish and maintain standards so new data is checked as it goes into the system.

Once data is cleaned and standardized, appending additional information to the record can provide an opportunity for much better targeting efforts and sending the appropriated messages.  However, you should avoid any appends that your members would view as a violation of their personal or company privacy.  The two primary sources of information are consumer and firm based data appends.
1.      Consumer Data Appending – This service can provide demographic, psychographic, and lifestyle appends based on individuals or households.  Some of these include:  date of birth, income, vehicles, mortgage, marital status, educator, licensure, mail order purchases, phone number, and party affiliation.

2.      Business and Firm Appending --  This service can provide NAIC codes, number of employees, sales volume, phone numbers, years in business, parent and branch identification, key staff, and legal status.
 
The decision on what data to append should be driven by your plan on how you will use it.  What do you need to know to be more targeted, relevant, and accurate?  One organization, for example, in order to enhance their insurance marketing efforts was able to add date of birth to 40 percent of their member records. Another group was able to reach new to the profession individuals using the dates of newly earned professional licenses.

The information in your database is fluid.  The real data changes every day, so there is no perfect database.  However, the practice of regularly cleaning your data and appending important information can drive success for an organization.