What is Data Hygiene?

By Braden Salas

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Marketing Coordinator

Hygiene, as per the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition, draws parallels to conditions promoting health or preservation from harmful influences. When extrapolated to marketing data, Data Hygiene entails the maintenance, accuracy, and relevance of your customer dataset. This practice removes clutter and inaccurate information so your marketing campaigns reach your target audiences efficiently.

The process of data hygiene uncovers and rectifies inconsistencies, updates (or removes) outdated data, and eliminates duplicates, fostering a healthy and functional customer list. To make the most of data-driven solutions like Customer Profile Reporting, Predictive Data Modeling, or Data Appending, data hygiene is paramount.

For those new to Data Hygiene, here’s what you need to know.

The Components of Data Hygiene

Data hygiene encompasses several distinct, intricate elements designed to maintain various facets of your customer data. A quick glance at a few of them:

  1. Address Standardization: Many variables go into a mailing address. When collecting addresses, it is heavily dependent on your customers or donors to provide it exactly how the USPS needs it to successfully make a delivery. This leaves variables out of your control. Address Standardization parses through the mailing addresses provided by customers and returns to you in the USPS-approved format.
  2. NCOA: With more than 40 million Americans moving annually, about 10% of addresses become outdated each year. Keeping mailing addresses current prevents wasted marketing spend by sending to incorrect addresses. Employing external databases like the National Change of Address database ensures accuracy.
  3. Email Hygiene: Your customer’s name and postal address might be at your fingertips, but an up-to-date email address provides an additional, valuable communication channel.
  4. Phone Number Hygiene: Having accurate and current phone numbers bolsters SMS campaigns, enhances telemarketing efforts, and increases match rates for social or digital platforms.
  5. Suppression List Management: This involves maintaining lists of groups to exclude, such as prison populations, deceased individuals, minors, and customers on “Do Not Mail/call” lists. This practice ensures compliance, avoids wasted resources, and respects individuals’ preferences.

LiftEngine offers a comprehensive suite of data hygiene services to aid in maintaining a healthy database.

Why is Data Hygiene Important?

Clean data means your marketing campaigns are running efficiently, not wasting your budget reaching out to those with outdated contact information. Here are some specifics.

Efficient Direct Mail Campaigns

With rising paper and postage costs, you want to confidently send direct mail pieces knowing they’ll reach the intended household. Regular data hygiene will aid this effort. Not only will it help standardize mailing addresses so they are deliverable, but it will also identify bad mailing addresses that never stood a chance. As detailed above, when customers move and have not provided their new address, NCOA services will fill in the gap. Finally, suppression lists will make sure that mail is not sent to prisons or nursing homes that never respond.

Efficient SMS Campaigns

Like Direct Mail, many vendors charge per text message. If you’re sending SMS campaigns, you want to ensure the text you’re paying for reaches your customers. Particular data hygiene services can help identify phone number changes so you’re not left on “read.” It can also help identify minors or other populations that should not receive promotions.

Keep In Contact with Customers

As customers become inactive, they move, change email addresses, and generally become harder to reach. Additionally, customers don’t always provide email or phone numbers needed to reach them on those channels. Data hygiene ensures you have the latest contact data and can supply it if missing.

Improved Reporting and Accurate Data

Data hygiene significantly enhances the accuracy of reporting and data, laying a solid foundation for reliable metrics in customer analytics and internal performance assessments. By eliminating inconsistencies and outdated information, it ensures high-quality, precise business analytics for informed decision-making. The enhanced data precision not only aids in accurate targeting and personalized marketing but also supports trend forecasting, fostering successful business growth.

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Who Utilizes Data Hygiene Practices?

Effective data hygiene practices can bring immense benefits to businesses across industries. Direct to Consumer (DTC) brands, Retail, Consumer Package Goods (CPG), Charities, and Services (like Banking, Education, Home, etc.), can all find value in such practices. By excluding specific categories such as prison populations, deceased people, and minors, data hygiene ensures streamlined and clutter-free information, ensuring ROI while observing compliance and practicality.

About LiftEngine

Since 2005, LiftEngine's primary mission has been to help clients better understand and connect with their most responsive prospects and customers, online or offline. Our expertise is behind the marketing campaigns of 400+ clients.

Behind LiftEngine is LiftBase, our proprietary addressable consumer database. Comprised of 250 million US consumers, 140 million US households, and 1,000+ enhanced data elements, LiftBase powers our audience development services and industry-leading products, PortalLink and LaunchPad.

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Published on Sep. 28, 2023, Last Updated on Nov. 08, 2023