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Jon Lamb

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Cleanse and Append: The Keys to Marketing to Your Customer Database

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Accuracy.

There, I said it. Within that one word lies the keys to unlocking the true potential of the customer data you have available to you. If you have the most accurate data, you'll be able to craft marketing, conquest, and retention campaigns that will boost your business faster than anything else available to your dealership.

Of course, it's not easy to achieve the level of accuracy necessary for the top levels of success. It requires that you cleanse your data rigorously to separate the wheat from the chaff. It also requires that you append the data to include the most recent information about individuals. Some of you are doing this to some extent today. Others are relying on their vendors and hoping that it's happening. Most have fallen for a shotgun approach either because they are doing it themselves and aren't sure that the chore of cleansing and appending is worth the effort or they let their vendors take the dangerous and costly shortcut of going straight for the data, any data, without a plan and with no sense of accuracy.

There's a fourth category - those who are not using their database for marketing at all. It's better to be in this category than to be using a shotgun. Bad data can damage the good data.

There's a reason that the laws regarding email spam, junkmail, and call lists are getting stricter across the board and have been for some time now. People don't like to be solicited without consent.

On the other side of the fence are those who provide the communications, whether it's email providers, ISPs, mailing services, or BDCs. These entities do not like spinning their wheels. In every case, there is a price to pay for bad data.

Combine these two aspects and you have the ability to damage the good data with bad data. In email, for example, if you're sending out too many that are bouncing, getting counted as spam due to recycled email addresses, or go unread because there's nobody there to read them, it can hurt your chances of your emails making it into the inboxes of people associated with the good data.

Even if you're running an internal BDC, bad data can waste their time and hurt moral. It only takes one bad follow up call to spin someone's head and hurt their chances for the rest of the day. A database that does not get cleansed regularly can yield wrong information about the person they're trying to contact. A database that does not get appended can result in old information being used by the BDC. People get married and divorced, after all. These types of life changes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the needs for data appending.

Whether you're doing it yourself or you're having someone else do it for you, focus on the accuracy of the data that you're using. It's cheaper to use bad data, but at what point is saving money going to cost your more than you saved?

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