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Data Quality is key for effective business growth. The way that data quality is achieved is through data quality tools and techniques that will improve business value. Here are five key aspects to data quality management:

-Data Cleansing

-Address Data Quality

-Address Standardization

-Data Enhancement

-Record Linkage and Matching

First up is data cleansing. Data cleansing combines the definition of business rules in concert with software designed to execute those rules. The approach taken here is to integrate rules into a data cleansing rules engine, and then present strings to be corrected through the engine. In some cases, a little bit more control is needed in order to effectively transform and correctly correct the data.

Next up is addressing quality. This involves reviewing a lot of the existing documentation that has been collected from a number of different operational systems, as well as reviewing the business processes to see where location data is either created, modified, or read.

Thirdly, we have address standardization. In the US, an address contains a street name and number, as well as a city, state, and postal code. The refinement can begin with the state, then resolve down to the city, state, and a postal code.

Then there is data enhancement. Due to most business applications being designed to serve a specific purpose, the amount of data either collected or created is typically just enough to get the specific job done. That causes the "degree of utility" to be limited to that single business application. Data sets can be enhances and there are numerous ways for that to happen. However, a challenge that tends to emerge is that the data collected is not sufficient quality for secondary uses. Luckily, this can easily be addressed through the process of adding information to data sets to improve its potential utility, known as data enhancements.

Lastly, we have record linkage and matching. Electronic footprints are really broad due to the growth of online interactions. There are many distributed sources of information about customers, and each individual piece of collected data holds a little bit of value. When these distributed pieces of data are merged together, they can be used to reconstruct an incredibly insightful profile of the customer.

If you are interested in learning more about how using data quality tools and techniques can improve your business value click here to read the full whitepaper.

By Natalia Crawford

Global Address Integration for SSIS

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As a growing business, it is inevitable that you will come across the need to internationalize yourself as you begin to encounter data for clients outside of the United States. The data quality of address information is key in terms of removing duplicates, saving on postal, shipping and product costs, as well as being able to perform effective business intelligence. Melissa Data's Global Verify Component for use in Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services can help you perform global address data quality. Keep reading to find out how.

Address data differs worldwide, which means that you can't force international addresses into U.S. address formats. One way to approach this would be to customize the way your input forms are laid out while making the input easy and quick for the user. This can increase the effectiveness of the data you collect.

When you install Global Verify Component into your SSIS server, you will be able to apply data quality to international addresses. From there, you will map the input in the component based on the fields you have.  When it comes to output, there are three types of outputs designs. After selecting one, you input the column name. You also have the option to customize the output. One of the most important options provided Is the Output Script. That is where you can specify what language/character set you want the output to be. Then you have the Pass-through columns. These simply allow you to pass through from your input source any data you want to keep unchanged. Melissa Data alerts you with results codes. Result codes alert you to the status an errors for a record. Lasty, there are output filters. These allow you to ouput into different streams based on a number of customizable conditions. With these outputs, you can direct different types of verification to different destinations and handle them accordingly.

Melissa Data's Global Verify Component makes cleaning and validating your international addresses in SSIS simple and effective. Click here to read the full whitepaper on Using Melissa Data's Global Verify Component in SSIS or click here to download a FREE trial of Global Verify Component.



By Natalia Crawford

The Ultimate Guide for Data Stewards

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The first and foundational key when it comes to being a successful data steward is understanding data quality.  Data quality is most commonly defined as having five dimensions: completeness, data conforming to the appropriate standards, internal consistency, accuracy, and a time stamp to verify the period within which the data is valid. Along with incoming information you can guarantee that you will have mistakes. It is inevitable that bad data will get into your systems. That is why it is important to put your CRM through data cleansing. Data cleansing involves analyzing the data to find mistakes, re-engineering and validating new metadata with rules to address the errors, transforming the data, and then reloading the data into the database.

One of the key takeaways when it comes to data quality is not to view it as a series of problems but rather as a process that needs to be managed.

Another element to understand as a data steward is that of data being "correct" but not "right". Human error plays a big part in this. There can be errors when it comes to transmitting data as well as processing errors. Even software errors happen more frequently than you'd think.

Two critical components that also play a role in data quality are validation and verification. While they are similar, they are not the same. Validation refers to the data that adheres to a certain specified and expected format. For example, a zip code having either five digits or a ZIP+4 code having 9 digits. Verification is comparing the data in your database to a standard. For example, requiring someone to enter their password twice when they sign-up for something.

There are many more components and elements when it comes to being a successful data steward. Those mentioned above are just a few taken from Melissa Data's "Ultimate Guide for Data Stewards". If you would like to read the full version of the guide, click here to download it and learn more about data quality.




By Natalia Crawford

The 7 C's of Data Quality

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Data quality is really important. Why? Because it helps you save money while increasing profits all due to having accurate contact data. It's important to understand what data quality is and why it is important. To explain data quality well, let's look at the 7 C's:

1. Certified Accuracy

2. Confidence

3. Cost-Savings

4.Campaign Intelligence

5. Consolidated

6. Completed

7. Compliant

These are the building blocks of data quality and provide you with a quick reference to assess your contact data.

First up is certified accuracy. Did you know that the average U.S. company spends $180,000 a year on mail that never reaches the recipient? Do you know the percentage of your addresses that are deliverable? There is a way for you to know that the addresses in your database are correct. With a solution, such as CASS Certified, you can validate, correct and standardize contact address data.

Next up is confidence. We are specifically talking about E-Confidence with this "C". Identity theft costs an average of $5,000 per incident resulting in nearly 48 billion dollars a year. Are you confident in who your customer says they are? Avoid fraud by using a point-of-entry data verification solution to know the contact really is who they say they are.

Thirdly, we have cost savings. 25% of bad data is due to data-entry errors causing U.S. businesses to lose $600 billion a year. Bad data should and can be stopped before it enters your database. Employ a data quality firewall at the point-of-entry to immediately verify the accuracy of information.

Campaign intelligence is next up in the 7 C's. With a geocoding solution you can get a more accurate view of your customers. Geocoding assigns precise latitude and longitude coordinates to the addresses in your database. This allows you to see where your customer lives and works in order to define and analyze the needs of your target population.

The next "c" is consolidated. Did you know that up to 8-10% of records in a database are duplicates? Every business should aim to get rid of duplicates and replace them with a golden record. A golden record is the final step in record consolidation. Three common techniques that are used to create a golden record are most recent, most frequent and most complete.

Next up is completed. Completing the records in your database by appending additional information that is missing can increase your lead generation and revenue potential opportunities. Fill in missing emails, addresses, and more to ensure you obtain a complete record.

Lastly we have compliant. Maintaining quality data that complies with internal and external regulations can be tricky but it is essential. Poor data leads to poor decisions which undermine your customer relationships and credibility.

After reading through the 7 C's, how would you rate your business? Take the next step and upload your data for a complimentary data quality audit from professionals at Melissa Data. It's simple and quick. Visit www.melissadata.com/score for your free assesment.


By Natalia Crawford

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Maintaining the most complete and up-to date customer information available will help you stay competitive, cut costs, and drive growth. So, how do you go about doing this? Many would say to use contact data validation, however, we have found that, that is not enough. A more complete data verification process is needed for true data quality.

For example, you might be able to validate a customer's address, but having the ability to validate whether they truly live there or not, takes your data verification a step further. The same goes for phone numbers. Validating that they truly are linked with that customer can save you time and money on making that phone call.

With a tool like Melissa Data's Personator, you can determine whether or not a customer lives at the address as well as verify their phone number. Personator does this through using powerful matching and retrieval technologies to compare incoming records against proprietary set of multi-sourced reference data, including USPS data, telco data, title information, and other public and proprietary data.

Through this process, Personator has the ability to confirm that the name matches the address, and most importantly, determine that records accuracy and completeness. Personator also offers an append function which brings a record to its most complete form by filling in the gaps with verifiable street addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and associated demographics. This results in full contact data quality for your business.

A tool, like Personator, can help you achieve data quality through obtaining complete Data. Complete data provides you with ease of communicating with customers, ensuring delivery, and saving on unnecessary costs. To learn more about Melissa Data's Personator, click here.


By Natalia Crawford

Why Golden Records are Key to Solid Data Quality

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Your company most likely receives information from various applications. This has made it so that maintaining clean and consolidated data is tricky; however it is more important than ever.

There are many costs associated when working with incomplete or incorrect information.  The solution to these headaches is data quality. Data quality is the process of identifying and correcting information.  It refers to reliability, completeness and accuracy of the information that is flowing through your systems. It mainly applies to addresses, emails and phone numbers. Having data quality gives you the ability work more effectively with your customers.

To take it a step further, data quality also encompasses something known as a Golden Record. A Golden Record is the art and science of selecting the "true" data and using it to correct incomplete or incorrect information. For example, you may have one record of a customer's recent purchase with an email and then a past record with that customer's information and a different email. Obtaining a Golden Record of that customer would mean having the most up-to-date and correct data on them, all in one single view.

Golden Records work based on a set of rules that you apply. You can use things such as filtering, using most recent data, etc. This gives you complete control over creating your Golden Records and establishing, validating, and applying rules all based on your own information.

Melissa Data offers a comprehensive set of capabilities for cleansing and deduplicating contact data. Here are just a few of them:

Global Verify: Standardize and parse addresses for 240+ countries

SmartMover: Update the addresses of individuals, families and businesses that have moved

Matchup: Consolidate duplicate records and automate Golden Record selection

Fuzzy Match: Identify data quality issues for immediate attention

These are just a few of the solutions Melissa Data has to offer to help you achieve Data Quality and obtain a Golden Record of customers. To learn more about Melissa Data's solutions, click here.



By Natalia Crawford

A Quick and Easy Way to Grow Your Email List

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Email marketing is a key factor of every successful marketing strategy. It's direct, yields high response, and is trackable. A great way to expand email marketing is to add email addresses to your postal customer base. The good news is that there is a quick and affordable way to do that and expand your email list in order to directly engage your customers.

Using Email Append will do the following:

-Increase the value of your contact data

-Bolster customer participation and retention rates

-Reduce marketing communication expenses

-Maximize response rates

-Personalize communication

-Easily measure the impact of marketing campaigns

Here are a few tips on what email append is and how it works:

What is Email Append?

Email append is a process of adding email addresses to your postal customer database, which already contains names and postal delivery addresses. There are two types of email append: business and consumer. Business email append provides you with the email addresses of specific contacts at a company while consumer email append give you opt-in email addresses of residents.

How does Email Append work?

With business email append, your file is matched up against a profile of company email addresses. When a match is found, a letter is sent to that individual with the option to opt-out. Research shows that less than one-fourth of one percent choose to opt-out. This takes about 5-7 business days, the email is collected, and the file is returned to you to use for your campaign.

Consumer email append matches your file against various databases. When a match is found the email is added to your file. Then, a letter is emailed with the option to opt-out.

Subscribers voluntarily disclose their information and the enhanced file is returned to you. Email addresses appended are then successfully deliverable.

If you would like to learn more about how email append can help you obtain the email addresses of your customer's, click here for more information.


By Natalia Crawford

How to Save Time and Money on Shipping and Mailing

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When it comes to mailing and shipping,  undeliverable mail, increased costs due to waste, returned mail, and keeping up with ever-changing regulations are just a few of the headaches that are dealt with. What if I told you that there are solutions to all of these problems? That you can improve your mail deliverability AND lower postage costs?

Ultimately, the answer boils down to having clean customer data. Clean customer data is a result of verifying, cleaning, and updating addresses in order to reduce costs and waste, while ensuring that your mail and packages get delivered on time, every time. With certain solutions in place, you can speed up the check out process, decrease cart abandonment through predicting delivery dates, lower mailing costs with clean, verified and up-to-date addresses, and ensure deliver to improve customer satisfaction. Here are a few of Melissa Data's solutions that can help you achieve those things:

 

Address Auto Completion

With a solution like Express Entry address auto completion, a type-ahead search functionality is implemented making it easier for users to enter valid address with 50% fewer keystrokes.

Predictive Shipping

Melissa Data's Decimal Shipping Calculator can boost your sales by predicting delivery dates and shipping option directly on your products page.

Postal Presorting

Presort Object helps you maximize postal processing speed and productivity while qualifying for the lowest automation and non-automation presort rates.

Global Address Verification

Melissa Data offers Cloud service and plugins that parse, standardize, cleanse, transliterate, format, and geocode address data for over 240 countries. They are available for popular platforms such as Magento, Pentaho, Salesforce, Microsoft, Dynamics, Excel, and SQL Server.

Change of Address Processing

A solution such as SmartMover National Change of Address services will update the addresses of U.S. and/or Canadian customers that have recently moved.

Postal Automation Software

MAILERS+4 is an affordable, easy-to-use bulk mail software program that verifies and standardizes addresses, dedupes your lists, and presorts your mailing.

 

If you are ready to minimize your mailing and shipping headaches, click here to learn more about any of these solutions and how they can help you save both time and money.




By Natalia Crawford

Improving Customer Retention

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CRM's are a commonly used tool to gather information on customer's and improve customer relationships with the objective of customer retention. CRM's contain information on customer's name, address, email, phone and more that helps sales representatives have a deeper understanding and context around every individual customer. They create a centralized location where you can store all of your necessary contact data without it accidentally being discarded.

Mircrosoft Dynamics CRM is an application that offers a simple solution that supports multiple common business applications, such as Outlook. It has an intuitive interface that allows users to create an account, contact and other entities allowing ease of information storage. However, it does not allow developers to import customized plug-ins and solutions.

Melissa Data offers Personator, a web service that allows users the ability to input basic information, such as addresses, and output a plethora of other fields. CRM systems are known to contain information on both individuals and businesses. Melissa Data offers Business Coder, which is a service that will return information regarding businesses. Business Coder works in tandem with Microsoft Dynamics CRM facilitating customer retention with businesses.

Individual contact information as well as business information can easily be stored in one location providing sales representatives with the necessary data to cater to each customer's needs. When a company is able to provide customer's service based on their individual needs and scenarios, retention will inevitably sky rocket.

Learn more about how Personator and Business Coder can help you improve customer retention.



By Natalia Crawford

Your Data's Rate of Decay

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Did you know that data has a half-life? That is the amount of time it takes for the information in your database to go bad. How?  Because contact data is always changing.  The U.S Census Bureau states that in the U.S.  we have a population of 316 million annually. Some of the changes that occur include 2.3 million marriages, 1.2 million divorces, 4.3 million births, 2.5 million deaths, and 47 million moves. That equals out to 57.3 changes per year and 4.8 changes per month. That means that the data you are using for communications, analytics, and compliance becomes stale quicker than you might think.

Decayed data contaminates your entire database, resulting in poor quality data which is the main cause for 40% of all failed business initiatives (according to a Gartner, Inc. study). Let's look at the "1-10-100 Rule" which states it takes $1 to verify the accuracy of a customer record at point-of-entry, $10 to clean it in batch form, and $100 per record if nothing is done at all. This includes costs associated with undeliverable shipments, low customer retention, and unsuccessful CRM initiatives.  The reality is that it isn't enough to simply have a data quality firewall at point of entry, because data changes after the point of entry. Data should be cleansed periodically so that it doesn't go stale. It ends up costing you more not to have a solution in place that will verify, cleanse, and guarantee that you have valid contact data then to have one.

So, what should you do about it? Fight it with data quality tools. Combat bad data with solutions that keep it clean and up-to-date for your organizational needs. From global address, phone, email, and name verification solutions, and identify verification and data enrichment tools that add demographic and geographic data -implement solutions that will provide better business intelligence, analytics, and improved sales and marketing initiatives.

Discover for yourself why more than 10,000 companies worldwide rely on Melissa Data to gain a single, accurate, and trusted view of critical information assets. Visit www.melissadata.com to learn more.



By Natalia Crawford