Data-driven marketing and sales

How to refine your customer records

28 Apr 2017

We know that many people emigrate every year, many die, and many move within the country. However, no one knows how many people change their email address. Here’s expert advice for how to avoid losing contact with your customers.

Digital communication has given businesses an increasingly used portfolio of new opportunities. And for marketing strategists, digital consumers leave a whole world of patterns and traces to be analyzed. But digital communication poses a challenge many companies have not yet fully realized.

“Keeping customer directories organized has always been obvious for companies wishing to grab market shares,” says Henrik Hägglund, who works with data quality and marketing services at Bisnode in Sweden. “But when they are working on new ways of recruiting and communicating with customers today, many miss out on the fact that it is much more difficult to verify and keep email addresses updated than, for example, people’s mailing addresses and phone numbers. There is no infrastructure for updating digital contact routes.”

“That your campaigns do not get the response you are expecting could be due to the fact that they do not reach the recipients. Those you think you’re talking to are no longer reachable in the channel you’re using.”

— Henrik Hägglund, data quality and marketing services at Bisnode Sweden


All this causes companies to lose contact with a relatively high proportion of customers each year.

“That your campaigns do not get the response you are expecting could be due to the fact that they do not reach the recipients,” says Hägglund. “Those you think you’re talking to are no longer reachable in the channel you’re using.” 

One key to success, says Hägglund, is to link digital and physical identities, for example by linking email addresses to social security numbers.

“If you have the social security number,” he says, “it’s easy to find out when a person moves, dies or changes name. Then you can spend more time updating other information.”

A good overview of basic data, that is, knowing who the physical person is behind a customer identity number, is also a prerequisite for dressing the data in analytical layers of information, such as using statistical models to create a clearer picture of people in your customer directory.

“The better the basic data, the greater the probability of successful segmentation and targeted marketing,” says Hägglund.

In the long run, it is also still about being perceived as a serious contender on the market.

“When someone gets married, it’s important that the name is updated,” says Hägglund. “Otherwise, it’s easy for mailings to appear impersonal and perfunctory. Sending information to someone who is deceased is something companies definitely do not want to be associated with. It makes you look extremely unserious.”


How to refine your data

Set goals

Do not start refining and completing your existing customer directory based on your use of it today. Instead, think about what you want to use it for. There may be several different things, but you must have some form of problem-solving.

Refine one more time

Make one big refinement, and at the same time create processes that keep the directory up-to-date and ensure that the right information is collected when new customers register, no matter which channel they use. This is the foundation for long-term success.

Keep developing

Using your customer directory is the best way to develop it. Make follow-ups and further analysis of campaigns, both target-audience and market analyses. Always evaluate the activities you do based on