Demand for Data Management – the Logistics and the Ethics

We know that in 2019, demand for data management work will outstrip supply. We’ve seen those numbers. Dataversity’s analysis of this 2019 trend attributes this to the exponential growth in the need for business data, pushing firms to constantly look for “advanced data collection and storage.” Central to businesses’ needs are data engineers – “architect[s] of organizational data planning” whose job role “will take center stage in 2019. In fact, data teams will not be able to function without these super-techies as they are assumed to have multiple programming skills and advanced technical knowledge to prepare the groundwork for Enterprise Data Management, which can be used by other staff like the Data Analyst or the Data Scientist for specific data-oriented functions.”

Here are some other thoughts behind or beyond the numbers:

First, shifting to an Internet of Things means there will be a need for humans to evaluate the needs of other humans. We’re drawing a lot of the information and data for this post from Cynthia Harvey’s recent set of tech predictions for 2019. On IoT, Cynthia predicts a massive increase in firms’ deployment of and planning around “live production networks” in 2019. This will require the refinement of smart devices, and the “smart” will require an infusion of data analysis and management skills, which circles back to the need for those skills.

Second, Artificial Intelligence isn’t a panacea and doesn’t come close to solving the shortage of human expertise in the short or medium term. Growth in AI will be nowhere near growth in IoT technology. In fact, Cynthia cites a Deloitte survey revealing that while over half of enterprises were currently using integrated AI, and “37% planned to do so within two years,” around twenty percent had stopped current AI projects and around another twenty percent “had decided not to start one because of cybersecurity concerns.”

Those numbers indicate a couple of bumps in the road for AI, which will also spur investment in tools enabling “ordinary people” to use AI to become virtual data scientists, throwing the ball back to businesses doing their own data science.

Third, as the data management field grows, those data users in the field of political technology also want “ethical infrastructure” in place to ensure equity and efficiency in the unique ways we use new technology. One important example of this is the Open Supporter Data Interface (OSDI) coalition, providing like-minded developers with an open standard for interoperability between software applications, reducing integration time and headaches. It’s a great example of cooperation within a relatively competitive field, a sign that this kind of nuanced tech can be socially shared, to the benefit of stakeholders.

What is the CAN-SPAM Act – and why does it matter?

Email marketing comprises a large and lucrative portion of any company’s business – and it’s on the rise. Email marketing is the fastest growing marketing medium and it’s used by an increasing number of businesses to communicate with and sell to their customers. According to Forrester, in 2011, email marketing expenditures were growing 10% year over year. Convince and Convert found that consumers who receive email marketing spend 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers and email ad revenue had reached $156 million by 2012 (Interactive Advertising Bureau). Email marketing is as popular as it is effective, as well: when consumers were asked how they would prefer to receive updates, 90% preferred to receive an email newsletter, while only 10% chose Facebook (Nielsen Norman Group). And email continues to be a thriving source of new business: it’s almost 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter (McKinsey & Company). With as popular as email has become some companies that utilize email marketing may not be aware of the regulations and some of the tools available, such as email appending or email verification, that help you get started reaching your prospects.
Any company, large or small, that uses email to conduct its business needs to be well versed in the CAN-SPAM Act to ensure compliance with email marketing regulations – and to avoid sizable penalties for violations. The CAN-SPAM Act established the rules and requirements for commercial email messages, giving recipients the right to unsubscribe from your list, ceasing any further emails. Thankfully, it’s easy to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act: unlike telemarketing, which has multiple state and federal regulations.  With the CAN-SPAM Act there is only one federal regulation to abide by. Simply put, anyone can send an electronic message to another as long as they follow the CAN-SPAM.

The CAN-SPAM Act applies to all commercial messages, which are defined as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” Are you sending a note to former customers? Perhaps you’re sending a newsletter to people who signed up for updates? All emails must be in compliance with this law.

So what are the terms of the CAN-SPAM Act? According to the Bureau of Consumer Protection, the terms are as follows:

  1. Don’t use misleading or false information in your header. Ensure that your “To,” “From,” “Reply-To,” and routing information are accurate and identify the business or person who initiated the message.
  2. Avoid deceptive subject lines. The subject must correctly convey the content of the message.
  3. If your message is an advertisement, identify it as such. You have to clearly and conspicuously disclose that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Provide your location. You have to include a valid physical postal address in your message. Acceptable addresses include post office boxes registered with the US Postal Service, a current street address, or a private mailbox registered with a commercial mail receiving agency and established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Let your recipients know how they can opt-out from emails. Provide a clear and conspicuous way for recipients to opt out of future emails. The opt-out must be easy to read, recognize, and comprehend – and it must be included in every commercial message you send. Ensure that your spam filter doesn’t block opt-out requests.
  6. Immediately honor opt-out requests. You must process opt-out within ten business days. Once someone has indicated that they no longer want to receive email from you, you cannot transfer or sell their email.
  7. Monitor your marketing. If you’re using an outside marketing agency for your email, ensure that it abides by all of the CAN-SPAM regulations. The company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

 

So how do you know if the CAN-SPAM Act covers the email that your business is sending? You’ll need to determine the primary purpose of your email: is it commercial, transactional/relationship, or “other?” Commercial content advertises or promotes a product or service. Transactional/relationship facilitates a preexisting customer relationship or transaction. And “other” content is neither transactional nor commercial.

Email marketing continues to be a lucrative source of business for companies, but to reap the benefits of a successful email campaign or email relationship with your customers, you’ll first need to know the terms of the CAN-SPAM. Fortunately, unlike telemarketing, there’s only one law that you’ll need to become familiar with. And familiarizing yourself with it along with other email marketing tools available just might be the best return on investment you’ll ever have with your marketing.

Data Drives the World

“Data really powers everything that we do.”

– Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn

As the CEO for the hugely successful social networking service LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner knows how powerful data can be. Quantcast, a technology company specializing in real-time advertising and audience measurement, calls LinkedIn the world’s largest and most powerful community of professionals. As of 2014, LinkedIn has a community of 200 countries including 93 million customers in the United States and a U.S. penetration rate of 29.9%. Marketers can connect with this audience by leveraging rich profile-based targeting – and these customer profiles come directly from accurate, high-quality customer data.

In a recent White Paper from SDL entitled “Your Data Trumps Big Data” (2014), the authors note that “it’s the small data – the customer’s data –
that really impacts the bottom line” and it’s this data that becomes the “currency of engagement” for a successful business. LinkedIn leveraged this data for astronomic growth in their early years, and data appending services such as Accurate Append are highly conversant with this currency of engagement.

The need for digital information only looks to grow in the coming years. According to a study by IDG Enterprise, organizations are experiencing exponential growth with managed data, with an expected increase of 76% within the next 12-18 months. And 31% of companies expect to manage more than one petabyte – or one million gigabytes – of data by the end of 2014. SDL’s white paper continues: “when you focus on using customer data to deliver better experiences, you’ll quickly realize that it’s all about the customer’s data…[which] is the only data that can help you create the hyper-targeted customer experiences needed for a competitive edge. That’s why customer data will become increasingly vital; it’s what fuels the deeper, more intimate relationships that lead to brand advocacy, long-term customer commitment, higher revenue and margins.”

InBig Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business (2013) author Bill Schmarzo notes that customer data can help businesses gain powerful insights into their customers’ interests, associations, and affiliations, helping them target their customer interactions via focused marketing campaigns (p. 89) just as LinkedIn has successfully done. Schmarzo also notes that augmenting customer data with a company such as a data appending service can provide other valued information, including key demographics such as income level, education level, and household size.

The paper concludes: “Customer data is the lifeblood of your company. You need to collect it responsibly, analyze it, protect it, and then act on the insights it reveals so you can build the experiences and trust that drive conversion, loyalty, and advocacy.”

Data is a driving force for businesses worldwide, powering everything that we do. Customer data fuels relationships that lead to higher revenue, margins, and enduring customer commitment. Accurate Append can further enhance the customer data you already have, making it more actionable and valuable to your company. We leverage decades of experience and relationships because we know that customer data is the driving force behind successful marketing campaigns, long-term customer commitment, and an increased revenue stream.

Data drives the world. Are you ready to get behind the wheel?

Detoxing Your Data

“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 numbers, email 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.

 

The Next Big Thing

The printing press. Telecommunications. The computer. The Internet. The next big thing: we’re all looking for it. Pioneering inventions not only have the power to change the marketplace – they can change the world. But these game changers all have one thing in common: they built upon and improved prior technologies.

The printing press.

When Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1430s, he didn’t create it from whole cloth – he was improving upon preexisting technologies. Paper and block printing had existed for centuries, originating in the 11th century in China, but printing books was cost-prohibitive. Gutenberg was the first to combine a screw press (used for producing wine and olive oil) with block printing for written materials. He developed durable metal printing blocks that revolutionized mass printing, accommodating vast quantities of information to be disseminated rapidly – and globally, too. The printing press was the 15th century equivalent of the Internet: it affordably diffused knowledge worldwide.

Telecommunications.

It’s hard to imagine a time before telephones, the telegraph, television, or radio. Communications technology has increased in flexibility and utility for centuries. Samuel Morse was definitely on to something when he invented the electric telegraph in 1836, building upon prior technology to create a telecommunication system that suddenlyconnected cities hundreds of miles apart. The telephone later refined this technology, but the infrastructure required in these point-to-point communication systems was vast. Guglielmo Marconi and Nikola Tesla popularized the transmission of signals via electromagnetic waves – and soon, sound was transmitted wirelessly. These inventions changed how we socialize – and exponentially decreased the distance between every person on the planet.

The Computer.

It started out as a big, mysterious box that took up entire rooms. Today’s edition is ever smaller, stronger, and faster. Computers receive information, manipulate it, and output new information –revolutionizing the way we work. While devices that could be considered “computers” existed even during ancient times, electronic computers first came onto the scene in the 20th century. In Before the Computer (1993) author James W. Cortada asserts that computers came from the gradual evolution of the business community, building upon and improving prior technologies, including tabulators, adding machines, and typewriters. Modern computers have sequenced the human genome, created lifelike computer generated images, simplified customer databases, and streamlined business worldwide.

The Internet

The Internet allows people to access almost any information – anywhere, anytime. It has had a profound impact on communication, business, and the economy. While the research and development arm of the U.S. military (DARPA, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) created ARPANET in 1969, the true birth of the Internet was in the late 1970s. The public World Wide Web first became available in 1993 – and it continues to be a driving force in commerce.

NationBuilder

NationBuilder isn’t the first to build upon prior technologies – but it’s quickly proving to be tremendously apt at it. This platform integrates customer relationship management and content management in an affordable and accessible complete software platform that’s equal parts business revolution and business evolution. According to Ben Horowitz, co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, NationBuilder has what it takes to be the Next Big Thing.

“NationBuilder is that rarest of products that not only has the potential to change its market, but to change the world,” stated Horowitz in 2012. In the two years since Horowitz’s statement, NationBuilder has continued to gain momentum as a community outreach campaign control center that combines recruiting, publishing, messaging, and fundraising. NationBuilder integrates customer relationship databases with Accurate Append’s data appending that yields dynamic customer profiles; custom responsive websites with blogging capabilities and newsfeeds; and deeply integrated social media to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of any campaign.

We’re all looking for the next big thing…But sometimes, it’s already here.

Mind the Gap: An Introduction to Data Appending

“Mind the Gap” is a warning issued to British rail passengers to exercise caution while crossing over from the station platform through the train doorway. The cautionary phrase, which was first introduced in 1969 in the UK’s London Underground, is broadcast over loudspeakers and plastered throughout train stations. But minding the gap is just as meaningful today for entrepreneurs and organizations managing customer databases as it is for vigilant railway passengers.

Minding the gap is an imperative for all businesses; data gaps and blind spots could hinder your marketing efforts and limit your earnings potential. But how do you know if something is missing or inaccurate? Using a data appending service can help you mind the gap and your bottom line. Data appending entails taking your existing information about customers or potential customers and adding (or appending) additional information to those records to create complete and accurate files.

Data appending can save valuable time and money. In her book, Successful Business Intelligence: Unlock the Value of BI & Big Data (2007) author Cindi Howson notes that managers typically spend two hours per day hunting for data – and half of this information later turns out to be unusable. That’s an average of ten wasted hours per week – and more than 500 wasted hours per fiscal year. No business can afford this.

Businesses need to find efficient and effective methods to turn their data into usable information. A data appending service will help you profitably grow your business, putting vital customer information at your fingertips and providing your staff with the opportunity to focus on their real work. And data appending doesn’t just help you mind the gaps in time and money – it helps streamline the marketing your customers will receive. According to author Jeffrey K. Rohrs, customers benefit from data appending because it allows companies to tailor their marketing campaigns and customer service communications to each customer’s specific needs (Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers, 2013).

A data appending service can also perform database scrubbing (also referred to as database cleansing) to remove or amend incomplete, inaccurate, or duplicate data. Database cleansing services can locate and merge duplicate records and add missing information including apartment numbers, zip codes, and telephone numbers. An inactive consumer email address, old home address, or incomplete address offers no value to a company. Database cleaning software saves significant time over manually correcting and updating information. Current, complete data is the new soil for growing businesses – and nothing is more germane than accurately appended and integrated data.

In his book The Data Asset: How Smart Companies Govern Their Data for Business Success, (2009) author Tony Fisher states that effective data integration can improve productivity and decrease costs by ensuring accuracy, reliability, and consistency. Matching and consolidating data creates the most accurate view of a customer, and that’s why Accurate Append matches records based upon a name and an address, while some companies match only on one or the other.

Whether you’re an old hand at business or a greenhorn, you’ll need to mind the gaps in your data. Once you do, everything else will begin to fall into place.

 

Growing a Successful Company

“Data is the new oil? No: Data is the new soil, because for me, it feels like a fertile, creative medium. Over the years, online, we’ve laid down a huge amount of information and data, and we irrigate it with networks and connectivity…”

–       David McCandless, British information designer, data-journalist, and author. McCandless writes the blog Information is Beautiful, which inspired his bestselling book of the same name (entitled the Visual Miscellaneum in the U.S.)

 

How do you grow a successful company? If data is the new soil, then platforms, apps, and data appending are the new nutrients. According to Forbes Magazine, when companies drive strategic decisions with data, innovation bubbles up from user behavior and the imperative is on meeting customer needs – data is the soil that cultivates the company. And thanks to game changing platforms like NationBuilder, the climate has never been better to grow a new company or campaign.

When Jim Gilliam created NationBuilder, he envisioned a fertile new platform that would grow grassroots campaigns and provide unparalleled support for organizations and individuals alike. The catalyst for NationBuilder was Gilliam’s cancer. After UCLA determined that a double lung transplant wasn’t an option for him, he turned to online community organizing. The subsequent internet campaign helped place Gilliam on the transplant waiting list. One year later, he finally received a life-saving double lung transplant.

“I owed every moment of my life to countless people I would never meet. Tomorrow, that interconnectedness would be represented in my own physical body,” Gilliam explained.

“The purpose of NationBuilder is to bring that kind of power where everyone can connect with people who can help them accomplish great things. NationBuilder is a software platform that helps leaders connect with the people that care about what they’re doing and can help inspire them to do something.”

NationBuilder, which describes itself as the world’s first community organizing system, integrates customer relationship management and content management in an affordable and accessible complete software platform. This revolutionary platform acts as a community outreach campaign control center, combining recruiting, publishing, messaging, and fundraising. The site’s customers can build nations using custom responsive websites with blogging capabilities, newsfeeds, customer relationship management databases, and social media to organize as well as consolidate their supporters. But it’s NationBuilder’s data capabilities that truly set this platform apart.

NationBuilder’s platform features apps that can facilitate growth in your company, including Accurate Append’s app. This app connects to your NationBuilder account, cleaning your data in place, providing high quality data enhancement, and connecting you with your customers and supporters.

Accurate Append’s AccuSend email verification identifies invalid, nonexistent, or expired email addresses using advanced verification technology that contacts the email host’s server, determining whether the address is active and currently receiving email. The AccuSend Email Append adds verified, deliverable email addresses to existing marketing and prospect lists. The AccuConnect Telephone Append adds quality landline phone numbers to existing lists. And the AccuProfile Demographic Append enhances your customer list with key socioeconomic demographics, including ethnicity, age, income level, gender, education, and more. Appending this demographic information from a customer relationship database can help your business focus its marketing campaigns, targeting key areas for advertising.

Data is the new soil. It’s a fertile, creative medium – and with irrigation from platforms like NationBuilder and apps like Accurate Append’s, the climate has never been better to cultivate exponential growth in your company.

What’s In a Name? Everything.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

 

What’s in a name? Everything, actually. Whether you’re an established business with a healthy customer database or a neophyte nonprofit still establishing your client list, getting a person’s name right is crucial to your success.

Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), specialized in interpersonal skills – and while the tome that made him famous is almost eight decades old, it’s still a trusted resource. He knew how to curry favor with potential clients –beginning with the most influential words that he could use. He stated: “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Your name forms the core of your identity: if it’s misspelled, you’re apt to dissociate yourself from it; it’s not “you.” But if someone uses it correctly and appropriately, we’re inclined to feel validated and exhibit positive behaviors toward the person or business that used our name.

Using a person’s correct name adds credibility to your email blast, email, or mailing – and it’s key to building and maintaining a positive customer relationship. Many people disregard correspondence using incorrect information because it indicates that it’s coming from a source that doesn’t actually “know” them – how many times have you thrown away a piece of mail or deleted an email that misspelled your name? Would you feel compelled to open correspondence that’s clearly without merit?

In his book The Next Step in Database Marketing (1966), author Dick Shaver noted, “…what hurts your response and possibly your future relationship with anyone the most is spelling their name wrong!” (p. 263). In almost four decades since this printing, a person’s name continues to be the most important component of a customer database. According to Biz Report, misspelling someone’s name breeds resentment. In a UK survey of 2,001 consumers conducted by Emailvision and YouGov, 40% of the participants provided their gender and 37% stated their age, but only 28% provided their name.

So what’s a business to do? Having an incomplete or inaccurate database handicaps your marketing efforts and hurts your bottom line. Accurate data appending is vital to ensure that have you have all of your potential client’s information – beginning with their all-important name. And it’s vital that you spell it correctly. You need your customer or potential customer to engage with you on that first contact and with every correspondence afterward. Quality data appends support the tracking and reporting that your business needs to keep your marketing campaigns relevant and fresh – and to keep your customers coming back. Accurate Append knows how important it is to get a customer’s name right and that’s why we always match customer databases by both name and address, never on one or the other.

Every business needs complete, accurate, up-to-date data – starting with someone’s name. Monitoring and updating your data to ensure currency and accuracy cultivates positive relationships with your customers – because a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

You can maximize your business potential with an accurate, thorough data appending service. Your customers – and your employees – will thank you. A rose by any other name might be as sweet, but what’s sweeter still is continued success.