As we approach the end of the year, I’m taking time to clean my computer files and databases. I really enjoy this task and know how important it is for my company. Clean databases are crucial for reliable data analysis. By managing and maintaining my database, I’ll reap the rewards of solid database intelligence in 2014.
Your visitor database, for example, provides a wealth of information about your destination. It tells you where your consumers come from, it reveals their interests and it tracks inquiry sources and trends.
You’re probably collecting data from a number of sources, including website forms, reader response lists, contests, call center inquiries and visitor centers. With data arriving in so many different ways, you want to be sure everyone is entering data in a consistent way. For example, if they’re using three different fields to track interests, it’ll be harder to run reports on your visitor interests.
Data cleanup may seem like an overwhelming task, but it can be as simple as designating a database coordinator or staff member from each department to spend one hour each week executing a few tasks.
- De-dupe: Do you know that person who filled out a visitor guide request form five times? Ideally, you can capture all five inquiries under a single contact record. However, if they wound up in your database as five unique contacts, de-dupe those records to facilitate accurate reporting and avoid sending five glossy guides to one consumer. Many databases include tools that locate and merge potential duplicate records.
- Standardize: When you print mailing labels, you want them to look professional and meet the post office’s needs. Some systems include tools that will automatically format text and apply business rules, such as abbreviating ‘Street’ to ‘St.’ The ‘Find and Replace’ tool in Microsoft Excel can also help you update many records at once, saving you a lot of time.
- Enrich: There are many ways you can update and improve the quality of your existing database. For example, you can run your data through the US Post Office’s National Change of Address (NCOA) registry to update consumer addresses. Some services also help you append demographic data to existing contact records, such as age and household income.
- Cleanse: As time goes on, you may decide you don’t need visitor information that has been untouched or unused for more than five years. Archive those records if they are not necessary for marketing or reporting purposes.
A well-organized database can provide many benefits to you and your organization. You can create targeted lists for marketing efforts, such as promotional emails and direct mail campaigns, to significantly increase the chances of conversions, boost event attendance by alerting local audiences to an event or conference that meets their interests, or save your organization money by ensuring you only send emails or brochures to qualified consumers.
If information is carefully collected and organized, you can also easily generate reports that demonstrate the impact of your marketing campaigns and help you develop strategies for growth. We live in a world where “data” is prized, sought and acquired. How will your data serve you in 2014? Check back next time when we'll be sharing more actionable tips for things to do once your database is cleaned up a bit!