As each new name and every illicit detail is revealed, the 37 million members of Ashley Madison, a website promoting extramarital affairs, are scrambling to save their marriages, careers, and reputations. This list, which is now available to anyone aware ofthe existence of Google, reportedly includes the names and sexual fantasies of members of the armed services, United Nations, and even the Vatican. Looks like someone’s prayers weren’t heard this week.
As the extent of the contact information becomes more easily accessible, a new breed of data analyst is emerging. Creative thinkers are using the information to win custody battles, deduce which cities have the most cheaters, and even get a leg up over another candidate for a job promotion.
If everyone from neglected housewives to tawdry tabloid writers is capable of using data to form opinions and make well-informed decisions, the question is… why aren’t you?
Now I’m not talking about crawling through Ashley Madison’s troves of cheaters, I’m talking about your company. Your data. Demographics, geographic locations, purchasing behavior… your contact records say a million things about your customers. A million patterns are lying in wait, holding the key to better marketing, better operations, and better business decisions. Whereas for Ashley Madison data spelled disaster, for you it should spell potential.
Customer data, when compromised, can be a company’s worst nightmare. When used intelligently, customer data can increase profits and reduce the guessing game so many businesses play on a day-to-day basis.
In order to use your data intelligently, you must be confident that it is accurate and up-to-date. If your records indicate you have 14 Jeremiah Whittinglys living in Chicago, you can either double your production of Jeremiah Whittingly personalized baseball caps, or perhaps take a closer look at how clean your data is. I’m personally leaning towards the second option.
However, beefing up marketing efforts in Juneau, where your database says 10 percent of your client base is located, is a smart idea. Unless your data entry employee didn’t realize ‘AK’ was the postal code abbreviation for Alaska rather than Arkansas. In which case, polar bears stand a better chance of appreciating your new billboard than your target market.
Ridding your database of duplicate, incorrect, or incomplete records is the first step in recognizing the power of customer data. The next step is figuring out what this data means for you and your company, and if every talk show host and dark web hacker can do it with the right tools, so can you.