Data hygiene best practices

3 secrets to make your data more actionable

In the next month you may be busy at home with various spring cleaning projects–pulling out boxes from storage, putting winter clothes away, or getting rid of expired items in the pantry. Spring cleaning sets you up for your summer projects, reminds you what you’re working with, and allows you to start planning for the months ahead.

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your closet–your organization’s data should get checked, too! Cleaning, appending and enriching your data means you end up with actionable data that will yield insights and connections you can use to meet (and make!) your company’s future goals.

Actionable data is data that is accurate, accessible, relevant and organized well. For instance, let’s say your email campaign has an open rate of 2%. Is that because:

  1. the email addresses you use are incorrect?
  2. the people you’re sending emails to aren’t interested?
  3. you’re sending the same email to a mix of interest groups and demographics, rather than focusing on the people who the email best connects with?

How can you decide to move forward with your email marketing campaign if you don’t know what’s working or not working? Actionable data means you know what people think, need, want and do, and you can take action to connect to your audience based on their reality.

1. Cleanse your data with a fine toothed comb

Cleaning your data means you give yourself the chance to increase the accuracy and quality of your data by fixing email addresses, phone numbers, and name spellings. Maybe John Doe has been seeing your ads everywhere and interested in your product. But you keep sending your material to John Dow. Bad data results in lower ROIs all around, costing the US companies 3 trillion a year.1 People change addresses and telephone numbers all the time. Every hour, 521 companies change their address, 872 phone numbers will change or disconnect, and 1504 urls will be created or changed. What process do you have for checking the validity of your information?

Case Study: Aflac

In the case of Aflac, their lead data is manually input from hundreds of thousands of decentralized agents all across the country. Customers who talked to two agents might get twice the content because they appeared on two different lists, or have two different spellings of the same name.

So Aflac needed a continual system of checks and rechecks to ensure accuracy in the constant generation of new data, leads and consumers, and a better system for centralizing data so that everyone was looking at the same thing. When their agents have accurate information they can take direct action by adding the email to a local listserv for local discounts and opportunities, or contact that person directly to continue the conversation. Data Axle helped Aflac create a prospecting solution that provides accurate, real-time consumer and business information integrated directly into Aflac’s CRM system.

How to get it done:

Data processing services remove closed-down, inactive and non-existing email accounts from the database, reducing the risk of deliverability issues like high bounce rates, blacklisting, and ISP blocks that can cause significant revenue loss.

Address standardization and National Change of Address (NCOA)2 increase match rates and automatically change addresses for your leads or customers within 48 hours of a change of address form.

2. Append your data and fill in the gaps of your information

Information is different from data.

Is it enough to have forty thousand names in front of you, a separate list of emails, and another list of addresses? No. You need the information presented in a way that makes sense, and with context. So you need forty thousand names, email addresses and postal addresses all connected so that you can see that twenty thousand of those entries are missing one or the other.

Case Study: Save the Children

Save the Children, for example, needed to clean and append their house files so that when they reached out to leads they were reaching out on the lead’s preferred channel and with messaging that reflected that lead’s journey. With Data Axle, Save the Children implemented a new system to pair new leads with consumer and business data so that the information they had was appended to create a fuller picture of the prospective donor. Then, the system checks Save the Children’s house file for duplicate entries to ensure the lead is always sent the right type of messaging.

With appended data, Save the Children was able to improve messaging to each lead. By matching new leads to their house file, they could more confidently trust reports that indicated the growth of their file because they knew that they weren’t getting duplicates. Their data transformed to information they could use and count on.

3. Enrich your data

Match your audience’s emails or mailing addresses with demographic and psychographic information about them to create accurate customer profiles, identify new audience segments, and ramp up your cross- and upsell efforts. These kinds of additions can help create a clear picture of your customer or prospective customer so you can start organizing your lists into actionable segments.

Actionable data means that you can take direct and indirect action3 from the information to create insights. Direct action, like adding emails to a listserv, is great. But indirect action is important, too. With fuller information and a well organized and easy to access system to see the information in, you can notify team members of market segments they might be able to explore further, or track engagement for a specific demographic to support the campaigns you’re building for the future. Consumer data, with over 300 attributes to help you identify each customer or audience member, will help you see a fuller picture of what your next strategy could be.

Create actionable insights by asking the right questions:

With enriched data, you can ask yourself better questions.

  1. Do we see more conversions on certain channels? Why?
  2. Do certain segments of customers respond better to certain messaging? Why?
  3. What issues in our process, like high bounce rates, do we want to address?
  4. What groups of people, channels or opportunities have we forgotten or ignored?

The insights you gain from these questions are vital to your next successful campaign.

Bad data costs money, and clean, actionable data makes money. So this spring, think about cleaning out the cobwebs and working on getting your data and information to work for you, rather than against you.

Data Axle’s products can help you access all of the data you’re subscribed to within software that enables you and your team to prospect, research, analyze, and leverage our data in real time.

Ask us how we can help you with your specific situation.


2 Data Axle is a non-exclusive Licensee of the USPS® (UnitedStates Postal Service®) to provide Full Service NCOALink®processing, ZIP + 4® Coding and DPVTM (Delivery PointValidation) and Delivery Sequence File (DSF2®) services.

Natasia Langfelder
Content Marketing Manager

As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.