New Years Resolutions

2016 New Year’s Resolutions – The Stats

The New Year has arrived, and with January 1st comes the obligatory New Year’s Resolutions.  Almost 50 percent of adults consistently make these resolutions, according to Statistics Brain Research Institute.  Which is surprising considering that statistically we are more likely to fail than succeed.  Yet human perseverance prevails each year as people vow to change their lives in every way from getting into shape to falling in love.

Because we love data, we were especially interested in these numbers, as well as those found in the new study released by the University of Scranton stating that only 1 in 8 people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.  It sounds much worse than it is.  Consider some other odds:

  • Odds of being audited by the IRS:  1 in 175
  • Odds of finding a pearl in an oyster:  1 in 12,000
  • Odds of dating a supermodel:  1 in 88,000
  • Odds of becoming a billionaire:  1 in 7,000,000
  • Odds of winning $1000 in the McDonald’s Monopoly game:  1 in 36,950,005 (that’s a lot of Big Macs!)

So all odds considered, keeping your New Year’s Resolutions seems very doable.  At least we think so.  And the study goes on to say that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their lives than those who don’t.  Which means that succeed or fail, trying is half the battle.

To help you kick off the New Year, helpIT systems made a few resolutions of our own to inspire our colleagues and ourselves.  We want to prioritize database quality management in 2016 for a more profitable and productive New Year.  Statistically, 1 in 8 of you will take our challenge.  Will you be that one?

New Year’s Resolution #1:  Getting Organized

Getting Organized is the second most popular New Year’s Resolution, right after shaping back up to pre-holiday jeans size.  The average office employee spends 1.5 hours per day (6 hours a week) looking for things!  According to the authors of Book of Odds, From Lightning Strikes to Love at First Sight, men at home are constantly looking for clean socks, remote control, wedding album, car keys (guilty!), and driver’s license.  Women are always on the hunt for their favorite shoes, a child’s toy, wallet, lipstick, and the remote control.

Let contact data records be the one thing you are not looking for this year.  If we spend that many hours looking for the remote control, imagine how many hours of productivity are lost each year by employees sifting through CRMs for contact data.  “Dirty data” not only sucks hours of productivity out of your day, it will also affect the success of marketing efforts, the sales process, and the bottom line.

Getting organized in your contact database is the first step for a #CleanData2016.  Since we know database management can be a daunting task, like so many New Year’s Resolutions are, we at helpIT systems have 25 years experience and are here to help.

This month helpIT systems is offering a FREE analysis of your company’s contact database by one of our data quality experts.  The analysis will review the effectiveness of current data quality initiatives, pinpoint weaknesses, and run a free data deduplication and matching test on your own data.

Don’t miss out on your chance to kick the New Year off right, click here to claim your free analysis.

New Year’s Resolution #2:  Saving Money

Who wouldn’t like to have a few extra dollars or pounds in their pocket this year?  The second most popular New Year’s Resolution is to save money.  People go about this all sorts of ways, from cutting back on designer handbag purchases to taking public transit instead of their car.  But here are a few ways you might be wasting money without even realizing it:

  1. Small fees that add up:  Credit card interest, paying for speedy shipping, and ATM fees all add up over time.  So while it might seem worth it to have that Amazon purchase overnighted or to hit the ATM at a concert rather than skip out on purchasing a Dave Matthews Band t-shirt, remember that a few years ago ATM fees totaled $7 billion.  To put that in perspective, the average ATM fee is $3.  Let’s say you use an ATM twice a month…that’s THREE Dave Matthews t-shirts from Amazon…maybe four if you don’t pay for the expedited shipping.
  2. Bad habits:  nearly half of Americans consume soft drinks daily, and their fast food consumption totaled $117 billion last year.  That’s almost $400 per person!  Throw in the cost of alcohol, cigarettes, and that daily $5 mocha cappuccino grande at your local Starbucks, and these habits are adding up quick.
  3. Good habits that you’re not actually doing:  While we had the best of intentions when joining that gym, signing up for Spanish lessons, or purchasing the Daily Deal for unlimited monthly meditation sessions, how often have you used it?  Studies show that gyms sell memberships expecting only 18 percent of members to use their facilities on the regular.  Take a look at what you are paying for and ask, “Am I really using this?”
  4. Gambling:  With the American Powerball topping out at a record $1.3 billion this week, spending some of your hard earned cash on a lottery ticket might seem like a worthwhile investment.  The sight of all those zeros make normally sane people forget they have a better chance of being struck by lightning, becoming President of the United States, or being attacked by a shark.  Probably a better chance of all three of those happening at the same time before you hit those lucky numbers.
  5. Waste:  A mind-boggling 33 percent of the world’s food is thrown away each year.  The math works out to about $529 per person.  That’s a nice start towards a down payment on a car or a beach vacation.  Most households could also cut energy costs by a third if they followed recommended guidelines.

So as you are looking to save money this year, consider all the places your money is going, rather than just the obvious few.  Here in the data quality world, we see this happen all the time.  Companies know exactly how much money they are losing due to employee turnover or loss of market share.  However when it comes to how much they are losing due to poor data quality, most are in the dark.  Studies suggest that companies are losing billions of dollars each year from poor data quality.  Don’t hide behind 2015’s denials, whether it’s how much that cup of coffee is really costing you or the effects of dirty data on your organization.  It’s time for a #CleanData2016.

New Year’s Resolution #3:  Be Healthy

This is a big one.  Whether it is to get fit, join a gym, meditate, or eat better, many people focus their New Year’s resolutions on improving their health.  One healthy habit can unintentionally permeate into other behaviors, often changing many aspects of a person’s life for the better.

The tricky part is making these goals stick.  Studies have shown that on average, a person needs to maintain a behavior for 66 days before it becomes a habit.  Some behaviors are harder to change than others, meaning that the 66 day rule is just a guideline rather than an absolute.

Change is hard.  Anyone who has been on a diet or quit smoking knows this.  But the great part, the biggest relief, is that it gets easier.  In his book The One Thing, Gary Keller states that, “Success is actually a short race—a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.”  Meaning that we don’t have to be this disciplined forever, we just have to do it long enough for it to become a habit.  Maybe that is 66 days.  Maybe it is 246 days.  But once it is a habit, the effort needed to keep eating veggies or meditating daily will decrease substantially.  After all, how much thought do you put into brushing your teeth in the morning or buckling your seatbelt?  Habits are sometimes done without us even realizing it!

Here are a few tips to help keep you building habits in 2016:

Track yourself.  Imagine a bowl of M&M’s was on your desk right now.  It is mid-afternoon, the sun is streaming in your window, and the to-do list does not seem to be getting any shorter as the minutes slowly tick towards 5:00.  Would you reward your hard efforts so far with one M&M?  Two?  Perhaps a handful.  After all, they’re small.

Now imagine that for every M&M you ate, you had to pull out a little journal and write “1 M&M – 25 Calories”.   Would you still eat a handful?  Probably not.  For whatever behavior you are trying to eliminate or add to your life, write it down.  Every minute, every calorie, every dollar spent.  Darren Hardy advocates for this method in his book The Compound Effect.  As the name implies, these little actions add up big over time.

Mix it up.  Everyone gets into a rut.  Dr. Frank Farley, a professor of psychological studies in education at Philadelphia’s Temple University, tells Wall Street Journal that making the same resolutions year after year can lead to boredom and failure as a result. Want to lose 20 pounds?  Try pledging to walk 3 miles every day instead.  Focusing on adding a healthy behavior rather than the end result can help you feel a sense of daily accomplishment.  Each day of completing your walking resolution will bring you closer to your underlying goal.

Let others help.  No one accomplishes anything alone.  The world’s most successful people had advisors, mentors, and colleagues in their corner that made their achievements possible.  God had Moses.  Barnum had Bailey.  Let others in on what you are trying to accomplish.  Even better, find someone who has the same goals as you so you can encourage each other.

New Year’s Resolution #4:  Stop Procrastinating

In the madness that ensues during the holidays, the calm of January often leaves many people confused.  Where did all this time come from?  And more importantly, what in the world do we do with it?  Several of you are already dreaming of a Star Wars movie marathon or the chance to conquer the next level of Angry Birds.

Yet many people are shrugging off those comfortable time-killers and resolving to make 2016 a productive year both personally and professionally.  This could mean finally training for that 10K run, spending more time with family and friends, or even chasing a passion like watercolors or writing a great novel.

Companies are stopping the procrastinations of 2015 and seeking a more effective data quality plan for the New Year.  While cleaning up millions of contact data records and stopping the influx of bad data can seem like a daunting task, it is one situation that will not improve by delaying the process.  For every year companies procrastinate, bad records are piling up in CRMs, and the effects are staggering.  Departments ranging from marketing to customer service are seeing money and time wasted due to poor data quality.

How do companies accomplish a task of this magnitude?  The same way you eat an elephant…one bite at a time.  Let us help by knocking out a few of those last year excuses:

  • I don’t have the time for a project like that.  Do you have 20 minutes?  Yes?  Twenty minutes will get you started on a free data quality analysis with one of our database experts.  Do you have 20 minutes tomorrow?  If you could spend 20 minutes of each day working on data quality, by the end of 2016 you will have put in 86 hours.  That’s almost FOUR full 24 hour days!  A lot can be done in 86 hours.
  • I don’t know where to start.  Start with those 20 minutes on the phone with one of our data quality experts.  They will talk about your data, your company’s goals, and solutions tailored for you.  While many companies sell a one-size-fits-all solution, there is no “one-size” company.  Let our knowledgeable staff build a solution that is best for your company individually.
  • We tried that last year and the problem just came back.  Maintaining data quality is a habit to be maintained, not a one-time accomplishment.  Just like eating jelly doughnuts will eliminate last year’s workout goals, dirty data will creep up on you if the correct systems are not in place.  helpIT systems offers our clients complete data solutions with long-term results rather than a few quick fixes.
  • I don’t have the money.  Sure you do.  Except you are throwing it away in wasted marketing spend and lost productivity each year.  We work with hundreds of companies that originally thought “we don’t have the money” who have since discovered that not only do they have the money for a data quality solution, they have much more.  The profits realized from clean contact databases enabled them to accomplish many other projects that had been on the back burner as well.

Don’t delay.  This is our last week of offering FREE Data Quality Analysis.  Request yours here.

 

 

When Direct Marketing Fails…

As a Direct Marketer in a tough economy, you are constantly being asked to do more with less.
Generate more leads. Improve campaign results. Increase brand awareness. Streamline operational efficiency. Unfortunately, poor quality customer and prospect data can sabotage your direct marketing efforts and your reputation in the process.

Want to get a handle on the ways that data could be tripping you up? Here’s a quick look at the top 5 Ways Bad Data is Hurting Your Direct Marketing Efforts AND how you can start to turn that trend around…

1. BAD DATA Wastes Money

In this most obvious example, companies with large, unkempt databases ‘pay’ for bad data, directly and indirectly. How much? Duplicate records mean duplicate print costs and double the postage but half the potential return while invalid or outdated addresses and garbage data is like throwing money out the window. Even in the digital world, bigger databases cost more money. Email vendors, marketing automation vendors and database marketing companies typically charge by volume of records – so larger, unclean databases will cost you more regardless of your marketing strategies.

2. BAD DATA Reduces Response Rate

While bad data has the potential to waste significant dollars per campaign, the flip side of that coin means your campaign response rates are compromised. In other words, when you send that direct mail campaign out, even if you get tons of responses – they are always divided by the ‘potential’ of your entire database (response/total sent). As a direct marketer (whether you use email, direct mail or telemarketing) the only way to demonstrate the maximum return on investment is to remove duplicate records, update old addresses and eliminate anyone who shouldn’t receive your marketing (which could include unsubscribers, gone aways or deceased records).  Now that return rate is an accurate reflection of your skill as a marketer and you wasted a lot less money in getting there.

3. BAD DATA Means Bad Targeting

How well do you know your customers and prospects? How many unique customers are in your CRM? Do you know how much they spend? What they like to buy? Where they shop? If you don’t – it means your direct marketing initiatives are being held back by a lack of information.  The remedy? Put all your customer data in one place, accurately entered and complete. This might mean merging contact data with household income. It might mean linking all their product purchases so you can determine buying habits. It might mean knowing ALL their addresses but choosing a master file so you know how and where to target them appropriately. For retailers this is known as a Single Customer View and it allows you to simply know more about your customer so you can use it to maximize your direct marketing efforts.

4. BAD DATA Hurts Your Reputation

Companies that market well have a better reputation. This needs no data to support it – simply check your kitchen counter for the catalogs and marketing pieces you’ve ‘saved’. What do they have in common? They were all mailed accurately (they made it to your mailbox) and they promote products that interest you (as compared to that motorcycle catalogue you may have tossed). And they showed up at the right time (like that home improvement coupon that arrived just after you purchased your new house). So to protect your marketing reputation you want to suppress and organize your data so that you don’t mail to the wrong people at the wrong time with the wrong message. Remove gone aways, deceased and anyone who does not want to get your mail. Your customers will thank you in the long run by continuing to purchase from your business (and not writing nasty things about you on Twitter). In addition, your ‘green’ credentials will soar by taking the initiative to reduce wasted mail.

5. BAD DATA Risks Opportunities

Almost everyone knows that Marketing and Sales go hand in hand and it’s all related to good data. When sales reps and account people have the correct information on the screen, they can go the distance in selling and up selling to prospects and customers. They can waste less time calling people that are not relevant and spend more time focusing on the ones who are. They can spend less time on each call searching for data or recollecting it and instead, wow the customer with how organized and efficient their interaction is. Accurate and complete data improves sales and wastes far less opportunities.

Mounting evidence suggests that cleaner, more accurate data has a direct impact on your direct marketing success and each year, more and more companies make data quality a key focus in both their marketing and technology departments.  Removing duplicates, updating addresses, gone away/deceased suppression and generating that all-important single customer view will allow you to

So what’s a Direct Marketer to do? Make every effort to regularly dedupe your database or CRM to keep the size reasonable and reduce waste across all your marketing initiatives. It’s also advisable to validate addresses and suppress gone aways and deceased records before a major mail campaign to reduce the waste associated with excess mailers and postage.  To take your Direct Marketing to the next level, work with your technology or database team to establish a comprehensive Single Customer View. This will allow you to use your existing customer data to drive better and more targeted Direct Marketing campaigns. You can also supplement existing data with a wide range of additional datasets. Lastly, keep good track of customers and prospects who unsubscribe or who don’t respond to specific types of mailings so you can market to only those receptive to your offer.

If you are interested in learning about how helpIT systems data quality toolset can address some of your Direct Marketing challenges, please feel free to contact us for a Free Consultation and Trial of our matchIT data cleansing software.