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HomeBlogData CleanupHow To Eliminate Duplicate Data In 3 Simple Steps

How To Eliminate Duplicate Data In 3 Simple Steps

Is your database riddled with duplicate customer data? Are you sending multiple mailings to the same person? Do you have slightly different addresses assigned to multiple customer records for the same individual?

If so, that duplicate information could be costing you time, money, and even your company’s reputation.

Duplicate data is costly

While working on a recent data clean-up project, we came across some very ugly data in the form of 600,000 duplicate records. Just imagine the wasted resources spent sending direct mail to 600,000 duplicate addresses! If it costs $0.30 per piece to mail just a third of those customers, that’s $60,000 down the drain.

Duplicate data is damaging

Duplicate data is costly both in terms of wasted resources and in terms of a damaged reputation and diminished brand image. Imagine sending four pieces of mail to a single nonprofit donor. How likely will they be to donate to your organization again when they see their donation being wasted on multiple mailings?

Duplicate email data matters

Even if the majority of your marketing focus is email marketing, duplicate data can still hurt you. If you have four email addresses for the same person, and send four email messages at the same time, that person is highly likely to unsubscribe from your list altogether.

Duplicate email also paints an inaccurate picture of customer buying habits. It can cause you to market to a single customer as if they were two, three, or four different people with two, three, or four different buying patterns. You miss the chance to reward customer loyalty and accurately predict their next purchase.

How to Eliminate Duplicate Data in 3 Simple Steps

Luckily it’s possible to clean up duplicate data, save precious time and resources, and stop bombarding your customers with unnecessary marketing messages.

1. Put your de-duplication tools to work

Most CRM and email programs offer tools and integrations to clean up duplicate data. These tools are the perfect place to start identifying potential matches within your data.

Look at fields like first name, last name, mailing address, and email address to start, and see what your software is able to detect in terms of duplicate data.

You may start to notice duplicate names, such as “Jane Smith” and “J. Smith” with the same mailing address. Use this initial search to determine how accurate your search tool is. If the tool seems trustworthy, you can use it to start merging the records into one and thereby eliminating duplicate customer records throughout your database.

2. Merge multiple email addresses

It’s not too difficult to find duplicate mailing addresses, such as a street address that appears with and without an apartment number.

But what if you have the same person listed multiple times with multiple email addresses?

Identifying that customer and successfully merging those records into a single, accurate customer profile is crucial to your overall marketing success. If you don’t, you risk bombarding the same person with multiple marketing messages and getting blocked entirely. Keeping multiple email addresses makes sense just get them all into a single customer record.

Cross-check email addresses with mailing addresses, place of employment, and first and last name to identify duplicates.

3. Establish a duplicate elimination policy

If you only check for duplicates once per year, you risk spending 11 months each year annoying your customers with duplicate marketing messages (not to mention wasting a huge portion of your marketing budget on duplicate mailings!).

Create a standard policy around how you identify and eradicate duplicate customer records. Initiate the policy and do it every single week.

Should you outsource de-duplication?

If the de-duplication process sounds like a lot of work, you’re right – it sure can be. Consider the cost/reward ratio of spending time de-duplicating your data yourself.

As mentioned above, many de-duplication tools can show you potential duplicates, such as “Jane Smith” and “J. Smith.” The problem is they only show you one set of duplicates at a time. If it takes thirty seconds to correct a single duplicate record, and you have 600,000 records to correct, well….I’ll let you do the math!

Food for Thought: Chicken Bog

Recently, I discovered a program on the Travel channel called Bizarre Foods, which is hosted by Chef Andrew Zimmern. On the show, Zimmern travels to cities all over the world and tastes the local cuisine. The episode I watched featured recipes from Charleston, South Carolina, including a low country dish called Chicken Bog. It is basically rice, chicken and sausage all cooked together with spices.

The simple recipe for Chicken Bog reminded me of de-duplicating data. If you doubled up on any one ingredient – too much chicken, or too many spices – you ruin the flavor profile of the dish and detract from its simplicity and deliciousness. Just like going overboard with ingredients can ruin a recipe, doubling up on data can easily deter your marketing efforts and detract from your brand image.

Chicken Bog sounded so comforting and warming that I searched for a recipe that sounded close to the one described on the show. I have never tried a recipe from this particular website before and was pleasantly surprised that it tasted just like I imagined it would from watching the TV show. It will make your brains fall out!

Do you have duplicate customer data dragging you down? Let Massa & Co. do the heavy lifting for you! To find out how we can prevent revenue loss and protect your reputation with our de-duplication services, call (312) 463-1050 or email us here.

Bonnie Massa is Founder and President of Chicago-based Massa & Company, Inc. She works with companies and nonprofits to make the best use of their information about customers, partners, donors and sponsors. With more than 40 years of experience in marketing and predictive analytics, Bonnie is passionate about helping clients make informed, data-driven decisions to increase the value of their customer base. She strongly believes that making pasta and ice cream from scratch are worth the effort, and she spends much of her free time testing and re-testing that theory.

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