Data Quality -The Real Cost of Data Duplication

Data duplication is one of the most important things to consider when planning a direct mail or email campaign. Neglecting this step results in unnecessary marketing costs. What is your company doing about it?

Research from the Data Warehouse Institute estimates that data quality problems cost U.S. businesses over 600 billion dollars a year. This financial loss can be reduced merely by ‘de-duping’ the data. ‘De-duping’ is the process where you identify duplicate data entries and either combine the two or eliminate one.

What is duplicate data?

Data duplication is when a lead or record repeats within the marketing database. Duplication may seem like common sense, but often, duplicates are harder to spot than you may realize. For example, if you have a lead or customer named Robert Doe, you may also have a record for Rob Doe, Bob Doe, or R. Doe. While the name is different, these are potentially the same person. Computers don’t recognize these as duplicates.

The same concept applies to mailing addresses. While you may see that 1234 South Main Street, 1234 So Main Street and 1234 S Main St are duplicate addresses, most computers won’t. If left alone, you send the same piece of mail to one person or address three or four times, resulting in money wasted on print and postage. The same occurs when sending an email broadcast.

Duplication can also occur with individuals at business address.  While those marketing B2B can have the same issues with name and address I’ve already mentioned, it’s also common to have multiple contacts at the same company. These would not be considered duplicates because the intended contacts are different individuals. In this circumstance, you have two choices: send the offer to all contacts or remove duplicates based on specific criteria. Depending on the offer and strategy, it’s possible that sending only one mail piece, to a targeted title or department, would be more cost-effective than mailing to all of the contacts for that company.

At ANS, we have received multiple mailings with the same offer when one piece would have been sufficient. Most recently, we received eight mail pieces, that were identical, but sent to eight individuals within the company. Since our company is relatively small, eight is an excessive amount. With a tighter strategy and some deduplication, this mailer could have saved sending a few mailers to our firm.

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What does data duplication cost me?

Data duplication costs add up. Suppose you’re going to send out a direct mail campaign to 5,000 leads and the cost to print and mail the piece is $0.55 each. If just 1% of your file are duplicates, you are wasting $27.50 every time you mail. Alternately, let’s say you’re sending an email broadcast and your cost is $3 per 1,000 emails sent.  If your email file is 100,000 addresses and 10% are duplicates, you’re wasting $30 every time you send an email.  These figures may not seem like much at first, but depending on your marketing calendar, these costs start to add up.

Data Duplication, Duplicate Data, Data Quality

So, what can you do about data duplication?

  • When entering customer data for the first time, use standardized data-entry methods to avoid multiple spellings.
  • Run data through filters on a consistent schedule to identify duplicates. Most data management software applications (Excel, Google Sheets, etc.) have standard features for duplication removal.
  • Acquire prospecting data from a reputable source, so it is clean and free of duplicates.
  • Suppress your house-file from purchased prospecting data. When buying data, ensure that you can suppress your house-file. Not only will you cut down on duplicates, but you won’t pay for data you already own.
  • Use a reputable data management company to identify “hidden” duplicates. An experienced data company uses specialized software with “fuzzy logic” features to recognize names (Rob, Robert, Bob, etc..) and addresses that don’t appear to be duplicated but are just that.

If data quality and data duplication are a concern for you, call American Name Services at 1-800-434-1851.  Our data management experts will run a free analysis on your file and outline a strategy to optimize your data for cost-effective marketing.

suppression files, types of suppression files, how to use suppression files


To learn more about the data services offered at ANS, click here.

To learn more about data hygiene check out other posts, here.

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