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The Importance of Clean Data

By Hunter Swift on May 2, 2013

There has been much talk recently about “Big Data” which, to me, only emphasizes the importance of "Clean" Data. According to Kurt Bollacker, “Data that is loved tends to survive.” Having clean data is necessary for you to extract revenue from your most precious resource: your customer and prospect database. Clean data increases opportunities, saves money, and helps you maintain a positive reputation with satisfied customers. Luckily, there are tools available to dealers that can help keep data clean and updated with the NCOA, CASS, DNC, Phone/Email Validation and Phone/Email Append.

Increased Opportunities Come When:

The mailer you recently sent doesn’t go to the customer’s old address, as your customer recently moved to a new address. Your mailer arrived at the proper address because your data has been updated with the National Change of Address (NCOA).

Your mailer for the huge tent sale this weekend is received prior to the event, not after, because your data has gone through the CASS Standardization process with the USPS.

Your BDC or Salesperson can set that appointment instead of throwing away the lead due to lack of phone numbers.  Ensure you have appended cell numbers and landlines that are incorrect or missing in your database.

You are able to append/add email addresses to customer records, helping your next email marketing campaign be successful. 

Money Is Saved When:

You recently sent a mailer; a few weeks later, you don’t have a huge pile of returned mail sitting on your desk because your data was scrubbed against the NCOA.

Your BDC or Call Center is not wasting time calling bad numbers because your database has had the phone numbers validated.

You can now send an email to your customer/prospect instead of a letter due to the appended email addresses you now have because of email appends.

Your Reputation is Maintained When:

Your mailers are making it directly to their intended recipient, rather than being forwarded from their previous address, or thrown away by the new homeowner at the old address.

Your Sales or BDC Team is not calling on customers and prospects that are on the “Do Not Call List.”

Invalid email addresses are eliminated, effectively reducing the number of “hard bounces” on transmission. 

The email validation process helps protect the broadcasting IP from domain-level filtration and IP “blacklisting.”


If hundreds of thousands, even millions, are spent annually to market to prospects and get them in your database, shouldn’t a fraction of that money be budgeted to show your data the love?


Hunter Swift is the Manager of Market Development at DealerSocket and has been with the company since 2005. In addition to his current role he has fulfilled the responsibilities of customer support, consulting, training, and sales. He specializes in helping dealerships improve processes through the use of CRM technology. Prior to DealerSocket he sold cars and is a graduate of Pepperdine University.

Follow him: @HunterSwift


Great comments Hunter, having been in the retail Auto industry since 1980 and over the last 12 years in Auto marketing, this is the key to any Dealers marketing success. There are some proactive teams within Dealerships, that clean data as they go. Others have horrible data and do nothing about it. Having launched a large initiative with a major OEM in 2009, we would send service communications to the DMS database. The OEM records would be fairly accurate for estimating the cost, but the DMS database would be overblown with duplicate customer numbers, obsolete addresses and vehicles that no longer exist for one reason or another. This would result in a Dealer who was upset that 5 times the number of communications were sent and the bill was enormous. The activity of cleansing the DMS has to be a process that is across all departments within the facility. Every employee who handles data, must verify every customers record and de-duplicate with every customer visit. Now you can pay some DMS companies to do this, but remember this is your DMS data. Do you really want someone else to clean up the mess? I say, put the process in place, then inspect what you expect to be done and do it daily. Over a period of time it will take care of itself.

May 3, 2013

Hey Hunter, what do you tool do you recommend to dealers using Reynolds?

May 3, 2013

Postal Soft and NCOA and standard list tools used by most mailing houses. However, keep a tab on if your mail house is sending your list through NCOA every mailing. This will cost your mail house money to do so some only do it every once in a while. When 1% of the population moves a month, it is vital to have this done every time you mail.
in addition to cleaning the list for accurate addresses every month it is vital to pull you current file from your database each month. Especially if you are sending a sales letter. Don't you hate it when someone calls you to tell you they just bought a car from you and you sent them a more aggressive offer this month?

May 3, 2013

We actually just signed up with VinSolutions for Data Appends yesterday. I'm not sure who they use I just know it is a new company for them. I'm curious now however. We have about 10-years of CRM data that we have never had it cleansed so I'm looking forward to seeing some marked improvement in our ability to properly market our current data base.

May 3, 2013

Keep in mind that NCOA only goes back 48 months. So if your customer requested a change of address through the Post Office it will only stay in the system for 48 months. If your address was not cleansed during this time then you may not receive the new address.

May 3, 2013

Thanks Cassie. I'm more interested in the email address than snail mail address.

May 3, 2013


May 3, 2013

I dont know which CRMs and DMS companies offer Data Cleaning. But I do know that if you can, it is most important to clean the data out of the CRM or the tool you are using for marketing to your customers and prospects. DMS data is notorious for duplicates and bad data. Most CRMs usually take the data from the DMS and clean it up and de-dupe it. Once it is in the CRM you need a tool to update it, and continue to update it monthly to stay as current as possible.

May 3, 2013

Great post Hunter.

Dirty customer data isn't the only thing. I constantly see dirty vehicle data as well. This can affect the data posted to a dealer's website (vehicle title, meta info, URL).

This data (content) is then indexed by Google and displayed in the search results.

Imagine your customers searching for a "corvette coupe" and the data on your website is displaying "corvette cpe".

This can happen anywhere down the line of vehicle information, whether it be the make, model or trim of a vehicle.

Keep your vehicle data clean too!

May 6, 2013

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