Data Appends Beat a Magic 8 Ball Every Time

February 23, 2012 Deb Griffith

Have you ever wondered why you received information or an offer on a product or service that you have no interest in? It’s never intentional; no business has money to waste marketing to the wrong target. A common reason is that they have an incomplete customer profile, but by filling in some of the blanks, companies can better understand their consumers and market to them more effectively. That’s where data appends come in handy.

What is a data append?

Data appends perform two basic functions, they either update information you already have, or supplement your contact records with additional information. Updates are designed to maximize your list value through accuracy. Examples of information updates include checking for changes to a mailing address through the USPS National Change of address (NCOA) system, or running a telemarketing list through the Do Not Call database to remove contacts that don’t want phone solicitations. In contrast, list supplementation is designed create a more comprehensive picture of your customers through more business or consumer information. Supplemental data can include additional contact methods or a variety of geographic, demographic, or psychographic data related to your contact records. For example, if you have business contact’s phone number, you could append a mailing address for direct mail promotions. Knowing whether someone has children would make a difference in highlighting “family friendly” offers versus ones targeted toward adults.

How does it work?

Appending data is a fairly simple process of sending a data file, usually in Excel or .csv format, to a company that offers the service. They will send it back in a few days with new fields that include the extra information requested, which then can be uploaded to CRM or sales systems. Typical append information includes sales volume, number of employees, titles, phone numbers, addresses, income, gender, titles, and age, but there are hundreds of data points that you can request.

Why bother?

Comprehensive customer profiles help businesses improve customer service and relationships, generate better marketing communications, and provide a method to evaluate contacts to:

  • Refine target markets by determining who your best customers are, and remove those that aren’t a good match
  • Increase response rates by tailoring better offers to them
  • Improve prospecting by finding lists that that match your ideal customer profile

What else do I need to know?

There are a few things to consider before moving forward with a data append:

  1. Determine what you want to do with the new data. There’s no sense spending money on information you don’t use or doesn’t serve the right purpose.
  2. Make sure you have the right resources, both business and technological, to use the data in the way you want.
  3. Do some research online or ask for peer recommendations on reputable data append companies. Purchasing outdated or inaccurate data is a waste, and using it risks your company’s reputation.
  4. Ask about match rates and guarantees; no company will have all the information you want on every record. Even with a reputable company, some of the information not be correct, so check out their “make good” policies as well.
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