A study updated by Gartner in May 2014 points out that poor data quality is a primary reason that 40% of all business initiatives fail to achieve their targeted benefits. BCC Software focuses the solutions we develop to combat this problem by targeting the three pillars of the contact data quality lifecycle: At the point of entry and storage, through the data enrichment process, and at the time of use.

Time of Entry & Master Database
A complete, correct, and current address is the foundation of data management. Ensuring address quality in your master database is no easy task. With more data than ever being collected and captured, the challenge of maintaining integrity of your data so it's ready to be leveraged continues to become more complicated. The key to success is having one technology solution for address standardization and validation that can be accessed from any point in the data collection and storage process.

It all starts with point of entry address quality to protect your master database. Consider all the places you get address information: in the sales process through a variety of avenues including eCommerce transactions, business cards, and contracts; in the marketing process through lead generation and list acquisition; in your contact center through customer care agents entering data into a CRM system. All of these are prone to human error, incorrect or incomplete information, and limited by what is available at the time the address is entered. Standardizing and validating the information before it ever makes it into your master database is a crucial first step to achieving data quality success.

Once the data is standardized, validated, and stored in your master database you have a great foundation. The challenge, however, is that while the information was correct when it was captured, it grows stale and needs to be consistently updated to ensure continued accuracy. The combined populations of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania move each year. In addition, rapidly changing postal regulations mean regular changes to key data elements like ZIP+4 assignments, valid delivery points, and carrier routes - all elements that are key to a successful mailing effort.

At BCC Software we created Datavolve explicitly to solve this problem. It's a single technology hub that can be accessed transactionally at the point of entry and in batch mode to rapidly standardize and validate an entire data set. As a CASS and NCOALink certified solution, it utilizes the latest available data from the USPS to ensure timely accuracy throughout the process. In our 30+ years serving this industry, we've learned that no two implementations are the same. We've made Datavolve available on Windows and Linux platforms with a variety of flexible implementation and packaging options to best access key features like multithreading support, multiple line input, and name parsing. Our products and services are backed by a team of seasoned professional service engineers that understand businesses just like yours and are focused on leveraging Datavolve to solve specific needs.

Whatever solution you choose, it is important to have a tool that fits your needs and maximizes the potential of the data at your disposal. Be sure to standardize and validate addresses to save money with maximized postal discounts and reduced undeliverable mail, retain customers by keeping track of them as they move and getting messages to them faster, and increase security with the peace of mind that sensitive materials are reaching the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

Data Enrichment
The concept of data enrichment builds upon the foundation of data quality by supplementing your list with additional data elements to enable advanced programs including multi-channel marketing, personalized offers, and highly targeted campaigns - all designed to maximize ROI by delivering your message to the right person, in the right place, at the right time. This can be achieved by exploring three categories of data enrichment: Data Quality, List Enhancement, and List Rental.

The data quality function within data enrichment is an extension of the principals discussed in our first article: standardizing and validating addresses on a regular basis ensures a solid foundation amidst a constantly changing landscape. Running the NCOALink service while preparing a mailing can provide you the change of address information for any consumers or businesses in your list that match the roughly 160 million records dating back four years. The most proactive marketers and mailers take this a step further by also running their list through a Private Change of Address (or PCOA) service. While similar in concept to NCOALink, PCOA does not rely on the recipient to have filed a change of address with the USPS. Instead, the PCOA data is compiled from a variety of sources like magazine subscriptions, product warranties, and online surveys - helping to find updated address information for people that would otherwise be missed.

By contrast, list enhancement uses that standardized and validated address to append additional information about the record. This includes services like list suppression that can identify individuals known to be deceased, registered with the Direct Marketing Agency as not interested in solicitation, or are otherwise undesirable targets for your communications. By suppressing records of candidates not likely to respond, you can spend less on production and postage, while sending higher value communications to the right audience. Other popular services that fall into this category include rooftop geocoding for pinpoint accuracy in geographically targeted offers, demographic append to enable decisions based on attributes like age, income, and presence of children, and email verification and hygiene in an effort to keep your email address data as clean as your physical mailing addresses.

Where the first two elements on data enrichment focus on improving your existing data, the final piece focuses on growing the size of your list. The fastest way to grow your prospect pool is to rent a list of business or consumer contacts. Filtering on lists consisting of thousands of different data points allows very specific lists to be generated. For example, a high end furniture store can get a list of new homeowners in their area with significant income in a given age range. With options to generate lists on criteria like education level, recreational interest, family status, and environmental awareness a list of prime targeted contacts can be used to generate specific offers for any effort.

At BCC Software we focus on developing these services taking into consideration our customers businesses and the trends we have identified in the market through our decades of experience. We understand our customers businesses and have worked hard to ensure we enable access to this data in a way that works for them. One of the most exciting new ways to access data enrichment is through BCC Software's Go Data offering - a 100% self-service online tool that is available 24x7. Go Data allows anyone to create a free account at www.godatasolution.com, use a simple four step wizard to setup a data enrichment job, and check out with a credit card. Our automated environment begins processing jobs right away and returns many jobs in a matter of minutes.

Data enrichment is a critical component of the data quality lifecycle that no astute mailer or marketer can afford to overlook. Consumers have grown to expect and appreciate well targeted communications and drown out anything else. By enlisting the assistance of a regular data enrichment process, you can ensure your efforts rise to the top.

At Time of Use
Once an organization has invested all time and effort to get that data into its structured home as described above, a new challenge arises when the data is being leveraged. Each type of effort, like personalized webpages, invoices, or maipieces, is subject to its own set of constraints. To avoid re-working your databases for each type of output, organizations need a solution that can understand new constraints and provide information on where the data may or may not meet those requirements.

The market has remarkably few tools for investigating the quality of your data at "Time of Use" or "Expression". There are abundant consequences for not checking data prior to use downstream. Many production facilities and content platforms rely on manual checks to investigate problems. With data, anything that relies on a manual process is fraught with risk.

Options like Data Preflight for BCC Mail Manager focus on data preparation for output and include checks to help customers identify the constraints in the downstream systems, and let you know before that final data is pulled out for use. This also enables users to test for longest and shortest values by field, truncation of the data based on output settings, and allow generation sets of groups in the data, so you can analyze specific groups of data in the output to see how well they are suited for the media intended. Quality checks like this help avoid undesirable situations - like a dreaded call from a printer or web designer that your data does not meet the specifications for the application, and will need to be regenerated or was already sent out incorrectly.

In Conclusion
Each component discussed is a critical piece to the contact data quality lifecycle. Together they're a powerful solution to enable astute mailers and marketers to truly capitalize on the data available to them. Organizations that handle data at any point in that lifecycle need an experienced partner that's focused on delivering flexible solutions based on their business needs. BCC Software will be exhibiting a variety of solutions to charge up your efforts in any phase of the contact data quality lifecycle at Graph Expo 14. If you're attending, stop by booth 2367 and use one of our charging stations to power up your phone and chat with us about how data quality is managed within your company. If you will not be attending Graph Expo or want to learn more today, go to www.bccsoftware.com/dataquality for a no cost contact data quality evaluation.