January 31, 2013, 11:39 AM

Marketers say e-mail is important, but their contact data is often bad

29% of companies say they have lost a customer to inaccurate data.

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More marketers selected e-mail as their most important marketing channel this year than another channel, including social media and telemarketing,according to a December 2012 study commissioned by database marketing company Experian QAS that surveyed more than 800 business executives across the United States, France and the United Kingdom.

But the study, which was conducted by research firm Dynamic Markets and covered retail as well as other industries, found that many marketers have to contend with inaccurate or duplicate customer data that can adversely impact e-mail and other forms of marketing.

94% of survey respondents say they suspect their customer and prospect data might have inaccurate information. On average, respondents think as much as 17% of their data might be inaccurate, the study says. Bad contact data in e-mail addresses can include domain names no longer in use and typographical errors.

29% of respondents say they had lost a customer because of inaccurate data, the study says. The most common problem caused by inaccurate data, the study says, is sending mailings to the wrong address, whether that is in e-mail or direct-mail marketing campaigns, followed by mistakenly sending multiple mailings to the same customer.

In addition, the study says that 91% of companies think that at least some of their marketing budgets have been wasted because of inaccurate customer contact data. On average, companies say that inaccurate data caused them to waste 12% of marketing budgets in the 12 months prior to the survey.

While 98% of study respondents say they have systems in place to manage the accuracy of customer contact data, 23% use only manual methods, such as checking campaign response rate records. 19% use only Internet-hosted software-as-a-service tools that automatically check for inaccurate or duplicate data, while others saiy they use a combination of manual and automated systems.

The study says most companies have yet to build comprehensive data repositories that include customer demographics, buying histories and overall shopping behavior.  “While many talk about creating this repository and leveraging it in real time, few have actually achieved the goal,” the study says.

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