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The data challenge: Leveraging technology to clean up the 'mess'

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White Plains, N.Y.—The challenges of integrated data management dominated presentations today at the Business Mailers' Co-op and Interactive Marketing Conference hosted by database marketing company MeritDirect. The conclusion: Data is “messy” and the advance of digital marketing is making it messier, but technological solutions for dealing with the mess are rapidly becoming available. “Why is it so difficult to understand what information to use, how to extract the most value from it and how to measure it?” Charles Stryker, CEO of data consultancy Venture Development Center, said in addressing conference attendees. “Companies are using less than one-tenth of one percent of the data they could be using.” Stryker cited four sources of data collection—search, social, Web crawling and crowd sourcing—that, he said, when cross-matched, can provide even more accurate, insightful information. “The weak link today is finding people with the skill at looking at billions of data points and extracting insights from them,” Stryker said. Bruce Biegel, senior managing director at marketing consultancy Winterberry Group, acknowledged another challenge: integrating “known” data, such as the information contained in CRM databases, with unknown or vague information offered by website visitor behavior and data provider contact lists. “One of the most interesting use cases is recognizing somebody when they come to your site and giving them the right offer,” Biegel said. “When 80% of your audience is completely anonymous, how do you treat them? “The key to syncing, matching and recognition is the email address,” Biegel said, noting email's relationship to browser identity. “The more you can do to get people to subscribe, register or declare with their email addresses, the bigger pool you'll have available for matching that information with the known contacts in your CRM database.” The MeritDirect conference concludes tomorrow.
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