There are advantages and disadvantages of different data cleaning methods.

Of course it’s essential to spell a client’s name correctly, get their job title right and get the company name and address right, however after that it becomes more difficult and therefore it’s really important to have a consistent set of data quality rules

Too many firms try to maintain all their data to the same level of quality but it’s just not possible so therefore I’m an advocate of profiling your data to identify the most important audiences and ensuring, at the very least, that they are maintained to the highest standards.

Once you’ve defined these audiences how do you go about improving the quality of the data?

In database marketing the 3 R’s apply as much as they do in Education.  You have to be:

 Rational because people can get very emotional about their contact data and you will need to navigate your way through this and stick to a logical and clearly defined plan.  This is particularly important if you are proposing to ask your partners to provide information as part of the data cleaning.

Realistic  because you have a limited amount of resource and a seemingly endless amount of data to maintain, so be very clear what data you can genuinely gather.  It sounds wonderful to be able to identify who your targets currently use as their professional advisors, or who your key contact also knows, but realistically, who’s going to maintain this information?

Ruthless because you need to capture only information that will be used and adds value.  Many firms have sophisticated industry code structures but actually only sell to about 8 main sectors. This is why a clearly defined plan is so essential as it will help to clearly articulate what information you need for which audiences and to audit any data maintenance activity you undertake to see if it is delivering results.