“Detox your mind, body, AND your contact list.”

– SupaNova Som, author of The Remedy: The Five-Week Power Plan to Detox Your

  System, Combat the Fat, and Rebuild Your Mind and Body.

“Detoxing” isn’t just for your body anymore – to succeed in today’s competitive market, you need to detox your databases, as well. But how do you “detox” your data?  And how often should you do this? To maintain accurate, robust customer files, you might need to clean your data more often than you think.

A customer database is one of the most important assets a company can have – but “dirty” data doesn’t do anything for your bottom line – and often times you may not even realize that it needs to be cleaned. Data is “dirty” if it’s incomplete, inaccurate, or incorrect, containing information that is duplicated, outdated, or has punctuation errors. Errors can occur from original sources, misinterpretations of data collectors, and from data entry errors. In their paper “Analysis of Data Errors in Clinical Research Databases,” Drs. Goldberg, Niemierko, and Turchin found that data entry error rates ranged from 2.3 to 26.9% (2008). They found that errors were due to misinterpretations of original data and to mistakes in data entry – meaning that their datasets were between 73.1% – 97.7% “clean.”

For businesses competing in the competitive marketplace, having a customer database that’s only 73.1 – 97.7% clean could mean hundreds if not thousands of inaccurate records – emails, letters, and phone calls that will never reach the intended recipients. But how do you detox data once it’s dirty? According to Venkatesh Ganti and Anish Das Sarma, who wrote Data Cleaning: A Practical Perspective (2013), data cleaning is the “process of starting out with raw data from one or more sources and maintaining reliable quality for your applications” (p. xiii). Data cleansing, data cleaning, or data scrubbing can involve detecting and correcting inaccurate or corrupt records from a database. A data cleaning service like Accurate Append can help by appending complete contact information to the end of your records.  Thus providing additional contact channels through which to communicate with your audience, ultimately increasing your bottom line.

In The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for Your Small Business (2013), author Dee Blick notes: “Data deteriorates more quickly than you think, so budget to refresh your own data, ideally annually.” Annual data cleaning can ensure that your customer files are as accurate and complete as possible – and make sure that your customers receive the information you’re trying to send.

According to Blick, “If your data is old, it may be unclean and incomplete, so consider paying to have it cleaned and remove any known undeliverables (email addresses that bounce back), duplicates, and poorly formed email addresses.”

He adds: “If you own your own data, the cost of appending vital details can be low relative to the cost of renting that data each year.”

Some data cleansing services can detect typographical errors and clean data by cross-checking items with validated data sets. Other data cleansing services help by adding absent information to make a more complete data set, such as appending phone numbersemail addresses, and physical addresses. Once a data set has been cleansed, it will be consistent with other data – and then it can go to work for you.

Detoxing isn’t just for your body anymore – and with the help of a data cleansing service, you can make sure that your data is detoxed, too.