TMMData Blog

Another Dirty Data Story

March 14, 2015
Another Dirty Data Story Image


Chris Walsh


I recently had a conversation with a colleague over lunch - a writer in a well-respected company. He writes copy for their email campaigns,seasonal catalogs, and many of their blogs, and when I asked him how he felt he was doing in his work, the frustrations he expressed sounded all too familiar.


“With no sales team,” he said, “these direct marketing devices are our main source of revenue.”


“How well to they pull, on average?” I asked.


“I have no idea. It’s frustrating because I used to work at an agency that tracked the success of each campaign to the penny.”


Like most organizations, my friend’s company has great intentions. We all understand the importance of measuring our marketing efforts so we can improve them as we go. But understanding the need and being able to follow through successfully aren’t the same things. After more than five years with this company, my friend feels like he’s still writing emails and catalog copy blind.


“Sure, we’re selling products,” he said, “and over all, the company is healthy, but how much healthier could we be?


“Here’s another example: Sometimes a marketing manager will initiate an A/B test, but I never hear the results. And other times I’ll write identical copy for two emails with one altered variable, the designers will do their thing and then someone will make major changes during the review process. The next thing we know the two emails bear no resemblance to one another. It’s almost like nobody’s talking to anyone.”


Clearly, I had hit a nerve.


Great Intentions Don’t Fix Data Quality


Not knowing how your work is performing and not knowing what the people in your marketing team are working toward are both big problems, but they’re actually symptoms of an even bigger issue. Without the right data, your ability to communicate is lost.


My friend isn’t alone. Everyone has dirty data. I saw a recent infographic from Experian Research that 92% of respondents suspect that their customer data might be inaccurate.


Whenever you have an opportunity to collect data, you have an opportunity to mess it up, mislabel it, load it into the wrong field, duplicate it, or mismanage it. There are so many ways to create dirty data, it’s hard to say exactly what is—it’s easier to state what it’s not. Trustworthy.


Just the thought of managing data is nauseating. Even when you simplify it, it’s complicated.


As you look at all the tools you use to gather data, from your web site or your site hosting service, to your call center, and even from individuals working in-house, it’s easy to wonder if one tool knows what the other tool is doing. You start to question the relevance of the data you actually do gather. How much of it is redundant? Is employee X collecting the same information that your site hosting service is collecting? If so, why are they both different? What are they measuring against? Could all of these numbers be unique and significant?


There’s no doubt that the reason my friend has never received data regarding what is working and what isn’t is because no one can say with certainty. They don’t trust the data they have enough to make an informed decision.


You Can Fix the Problem


Here is where I tie a solution into the problem, and of course it is self-promotional. We have great solutions that can help you funnel, filter, and manage the data you collect. And the best part is, the information can be available to anyone in the company. If your creative team would like to know what elements of their campaign worked and which didn’t, they have simple access to the same data your CEO is viewing.


The better you know your customers and the effectiveness of your messages, the easier it will be to connect with them. But first you have to have data you can trust.



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