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The quest for clean data

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Main story : The Quest for Clean Data Case study: 'Saturation' mailings reach small, local firms Roundtable: Opportunities, challenges grow with data Guest Column: Maintaining the right data on the right people Special Report: It's not your CRM, it's the data! Database Marketing : Data quality needs to be assessed before cleaning

The Quest for clean data

By Carol Krol

The necessity for clean, current data has always been a priority, but a confluence of events has pushed this sliver of the direct and database world into the spotlight.

Fear is a big motivator. Companies are being inundated as never before with legislative requirements both online and offline regarding to whom they can market, how they should keep records and what special procedures they must follow to remain compliant. The threat of breaking the law and incurring significant fines is sobering for many marketers that are struggling to gain command of their customer and business information in order to assure they remain aboveboard.

"Data quality was more of a statistical problem in the past," said Richard Whitney, director of database services at Draft, New York, a direct marketing agency. "Now there's a regulatory component, and that raises the bar."

Others echoed that concern. "We're dealing with permission-based marketing and the privacy issues, so we need to know that the data are clean," said Suzanne Martin, director of global brand strategy for business and government markets at Motorola.

"I would agree that data quality is top of mind right now," said Ted Friedman, principal analyst, Gartner Inc., adding that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other regulations are forcing people to scrutinize their data. Pitfalls of business data B-to-b data can be particularly troublesome both because they change rapidly and because the money at stake with business customers is usually significant. Large companies are especially susceptible because they often house multiple databases that may contain conflicting information.

"There's health care legislation, there's do not call legislation, there's e-mail legislation, and what's happening there is in businesses' quest to be compliant with ever-emerging rules and regulations, good companies tend to err on the conservative side," said Gary Laben, president-CEO of KnowledgeBase Marketing, Richardson, Texas, a database marketer.

Laben said companies that scale back on prospecting need to make the best of what remains. "What you have left is your gold, and you have to mine that that much harder; you have to maximize that, and that's where data quality comes in," he said.

He also said poor data are simply too costly. "We have a client that estimates poor data quality could cost them hundreds of millions of dollars a year," Laben said.

Customer relationship management failures-bemoaned by companies that made huge investments with little return-have also been pegged as a factor in the push for data quality.

"Significant amounts of money have been spent on customer relationship management, but some companies are discovering downstream that they have data quality problems," said Jeff Kanter, exec VP-operations at data quality provider Innovative Systems.

"We see this issue repeated over and over again. … In order to have good CRM, you need good data quality," said Krishna Chettayar, assistant VP-marketing strategy for D&B's Sales & Marketing Solutions division.

Still others suggest the motivation is customer-driven. "Data quality for precision marketing is key," said Ivona Piper, VP-database marketing at Staples, which has an entire department that oversees the company's ongoing data quality processes. "You make a fool of yourself in the eyes of your customer if you send them precisely targeted promotions based on information that is incorrect," she said.

Staples, Piper said, is evolving from scheduling direct marketing campaigns around its promotions calendar to sending campaigns based on customer purchasing patterns and needs. "This is a key issue we need to resolve," she said.

That method of marketing has been the holy grail, but the challenge of structuring it is enormous. In addition to significant operational changes, marketers need to enlist data quality providers to help assess, clean, standardize, convert and integrate the data into a centralized data warehouse, then maintain that quality over time. Robust growth expected The market for data quality software is small now. Companies in the space collectively generate about $150 million in revenues, according to Gartner. However, the growth rate is robust. Friedman estimates a 10% to 12% annual growth rate over the next several years.

"A broader, more strategic focus on data quality in large enterprises is starting to draw this market out of its niche status," he said.

Staples enlists various vendors to help it synchronize its data. "There is no single company that provides 100% of the services," Piper said. The company currently merges customer data from many different sources into one place and synchronizes its operational databases with its marketing databases. "This is where the biggest gains can be," she said.

Martin says the latest technology is more powerful than ever, but companies still need to start with good data. "We have more capabilities as marketers with the Web and being able to do closed-loop marketing," she said. "You have to have good data to do that."

Friedman said he sees mergers and acquisitions and new entrants on the horizon to service the demand. That process has already begun (see story, page 43).

Firstlogic ($58 million), Group 1 Software ($34 million) and Harte-Hanks' Trillium Software ($20 million) are the top three data quality companies in revenue, according to Friedman.

In February, Trillium acquired data profiler Avellino Technologies, and in April, Pitney Bowes acquired Group 1. The latter acquisition raised some eyebrows. Friedman indicated the deal makes sense for Pitney but suggested it might hurt Group 1 competitively. "Pitney Bowes is focused on postal names and addresses," he said. "This will hurt [Group 1] because data quality is a whole lot more than names and addresses."

Friedman predicted other "non-traditional" companies could enter the market as well. "I think it's possible we'll see other players in this data quality market acquired by other folks in the database marketing space," he said. He added that data integration vendors and enterprise application vendors in the CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) space could possibly enter the data quality space as well. M

Christine Blank contributed to this story.

Case study: Saturation mailings reach small, local firms

By Carol Krol

You'd think Shaun Boylan, president of Capitol Color Mail, Bonita Springs, Fla., would have his hands full, mailing 389 million consumer cooperative mail pieces each year. Like Advo or Valpak, these direct mail "booklets" contain several advertisers' messages in one mailing.

But Boylan decided he could expand his business by producing b-to-b booklets, called "Business Values."

Advo and Valpak, the two best-known co-op mailers, primarily play in the consumer realm and mail coupons in No. 10 envelopes. Other, smaller companies, such as Web Direct Marketing, send mail to both businesses and consumers via alternative media, such as credit card statement inserts or "mini-catalogs" that are inserted into, for instance, a mail order package.

Capitol Color Mail says its differentiation is "saturation mailing," an attempt to reach every mailbox in a given geography, a practice usually applied to the consumer side. For Business Values, the Capitol Color team sells ads in the mailings to both large and small businesses in a given geographical area and sends the ads to local small businesses that are likely to be interested in the advertisers' products or services. Mining information Consumer saturation is straightforward, with most information coming from the post office. But attaining b-to-b information region by region was more complex and involved mining information on local businesses, Boylan said.

A half-dozen employees that make up Capitol Color's map division were tasked with mapping out business districts regionally by lists primarily from D&B and infoUSA. Quad Data Services, part of printer Quad Graphics, helped with both list procurement and production.

"When we put a dot on the map like Alpharetta, Ga., we create a six-to-eight-mile radius around that," Boylan said.

Advertisers pay about 2.5 cents per piece mailed. "Everyone is sharing in the postage," Boylan said. "If an independent advertiser were to mail an envelope, they'd be paying the same that I pay for this whole piece."

Capitol Color conducted two tests in two Florida counties earlier this year, and the company this week is dropping a 100,000-piece mailing in Alpharetta with several national advertisers-including Dell, Discover, Ironstone Bank, Pitney Bowes, Sam's Club and Staples-as well as 40 midsize regional advertisers. Trying to reach 5 million Boylan said there are typically about 10 million small-to-midsize businesses in the top 50 regional U.S. markets, and his goal is to mail to at least half of those.

He has a national sales force that will sell ads, so the infrastructure to promote the service is there. "When you've invested in process and infrastructure, you want to find new customers to take advantage of that," said Ruth Stevens, a consultant at eMarketing Strategy, New York.

She said Business Values' success would hinge on advertiser demand, but added that it might fill in gaps for traditional newspaper advertisers. "As newspaper circulations have declined, local retailers that depended on newspapers to draw traffic can supplement newspaper ads with saturation mail," she said.

Results from the mailings aren't available yet, but all of the national brands have committed to schedules in other markets where the product is rolling out in July, including Indianapolis, Salt Lake City and St. Louis. These advertisers have also expressed interest in the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., editions, Boylan said, which he hopes to launch by the end of this year.

Roundtable: Opportunities, challenges grow with data

By Carol Krol

How do direct marketing agencies view the current state of database marketing? BtoB asked a group of agency executives to talk about the state of the industry, how it has changed in the past year and what challenges remain, as well as their opinions about what database marketers are doing right (and wrong).

Participants included Eamon C. Boyle, director of analytics, The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.; Bradley Starr, managing director, Miller-Starr International, London; Kelley Haas, CEO, Weyforth-Haas Marketing, Overland Park, Kan.; and Spyro Kourtis, president, The Hacker Group, Bellevue, Wash.

The participants responded to a single set of e-mail questions that was sent to them last week.

BtoB: What has been the biggest change in database marketing in the past year?

Boyle: The economic situation of the past few years has caused an overall reduction in marketing budgets. As a result, clients also have shied away from investing large amounts of money in database and CRM technologies. And, frankly, that is not just a reaction to the economy. It also reflects the fact that some of these technologies have not demonstrated the effectiveness that they promised. In addition, more and more database marketing services are being outsourced overseas to places like India where the cost of labor is cheaper and the technical skills are stronger.

Starr: Database marketing has moved up the corporate agenda and has gained more exposure at board level. There has always been talk, but now clients want to see financial return that marketing activity brings. There is a shift towards combining soft attitudinal research information, hard transactional type data and brand information to measure campaigns and isolate not only the best offers but also the most effective way to get the message across.

Haas: Marketers and product/ brand managers are being held accountable for return on the dollars they invest in marketing. They are looking for ways to measure the results of their efforts and to be able to show the ROI. There is also an increased focus on CRM. All of these factors put a great deal of emphasis on database marketing, which allows marketers to gain an understanding of who their customers are and how to more effectively market to them.

Kourtis: We see a couple of trends. One is an emphasis on relevancy rather than personalization. You don't need to broadcast every data bit you have on a prospect or customer. You may get better results by crafting your message to focus on the business-oriented and emotional relevancy of your solution, rather than telling your prospect you know a lot of details about him. A second, even more important trend is that b-to-b marketers are coming back to mail. They've learned that decent, opt-in e-mail list universes are just too small to allow them to reach their financial objectives. And mail is often more efficient. There's a misconception that e-mail is cheaper than mail. Sure, it can be cheaper to send out an e-mail message, but with minuscule results, it's not cheap when you look at ROI. Finally, CAN-SPAM regulations are also helping drive this trend back towards mail.

BtoB: What are the top two database marketing issues your clients struggle with?

Starr: With data becoming more of a focus at the board level, marketers have to fight hard to get corporate buy-in for database and long-term investment. Instead, data are still seen as a tactical response to specific business issues or to get a quick sales uplift. This is fine; however, a correct level of investment is required in order to ensure that opportunities set up through communication programs are realized. Cross-sell and up-sell models to existing customers cannot be developed overnight and require the relevant investment to ensure their success and effectiveness. Investment in these areas can be wasted due to lack of understanding, from a business, in the value and importance of clean data as an asset. Therefore, inflating the costs of data programs and halting their progress before they have really started.

Boyle: The main issues are the same as they were several years ago: "What are the right database and CRM technologies for my business?" After all, clients are experts in their business or area of specialty, not in database or CRM technology. "And how much of the data in my database is secure if I use an outside vendor?"

Haas: Our clients struggle with understanding what database marketing is and the potential it offers. For many, simply housing the data is good enough, they do not think about how they can use them to improve the bottom line. In addition, clients typically have so much data from so many sources that they do not know where to start in developing a useful marketing database. Companies need to take the next step and begin integrating and analyzing the data for actionable marketing opportunities. For example, analyzing customer responses can reveal customer segments that offer the highest potential for future purchases.

Kourtis: Data overload is rampant. For example, a client may get gigs of Web use data without any actionable analysis. Data integration issues can also hamper effective marketing for our clients. If the sales rep uses ACT and the customer service rep is on a separate system from accounting and so on, how can the client determine the true value of the customer? How can they be sure they're sending relevant messages to their prospects?

BtoB: Briefly, what are clients getting right? What are they getting wrong?

Haas: Our clients are realizing that their data should be doing a whole lot more for them. Many of them are taking the first step and having their data cleansed. However misunderstandings still exist. For example, some clients think a customer list is a database; clients feel they can handle all elements of analysis and building the database in-house; many clients try to do too much and/or do not allocate enough resources.

Kourtis: The good news is truly great news. Clients are finally focused on getting measurable results. Even general advertising is becoming more accountable. The bad news in database marketing is that clients have difficulty determining the real value of a customer, so they treat everyone the same. What are the high-value segments? How can we estimate the lifetime value of a particular customer? Worst of all, clients fail to run the numbers before running a campaign and end up spending $2 to sell a $1 product.

Boyle: They know that the database and CRM technologies are out there and that they should be using them. They know that using such technologies correctly makes a huge difference to their bottom lines. They are bringing in more people (whether on staff or as partners) who understand database marketing. They need to invest in technically skilled people in these areas-as opposed to business majors or generalists who have little technical skill. They need to understand that a technology is not a total solution and that technologies do not have artificial intelligence, as has been suggested by many CRM software makers. They need to develop better measurement metrics and actually use these metrics to manage their business and their marketing efforts.

Starr: Clients are starting with analysis and looking at financial returns first. Deep analysis of their sector allows them to identify the patterns that can inform, affect buying behavior or engender loyalty. It also helps in recognizing potential vulnerability. This knowledge and insight allow us to plan effective and competitive data strategies. Where clients go wrong is believing the technology is the answer rather than trusting the analysts and data planners to work out what to do with all the information they gather. The key here is utilizing the understanding of market and external economic conditions, which these specialists bring, to define strategies that work within different environments.

BtoB: If a marketer is struggling with data quality issues, what are the top two or three things they need to do to get back on track?

Kourtis: Be willing to toss old names. If the data are no good, it's just a waste of money to keep them. Identify your top, critical data sources, then scrub and standardize those files first. Give customers an incentive for validating their profiles and keeping them current. Realize your database will never be perfect. Don't let that stop you from moving forward.

Haas: Put a data assurance process in place. Each time a new name is added to the database, determine how it will be flagged and what process it will go through to ensure accuracy. Define the business rules that determine which sources will override others. Implement low cost, quarterly cleansing processes, including NCOA and DSF file matches and updates, to ensure mailability.

Starr: The primary cause for data degradation is the lack of a clear and consistent data gathering and maintenance strategy. The plan starts with how and why data are captured at the source to ensure your customers can provide clean data to start with. You then need good hygiene and business rules to ensure clean data are loaded. The best tool a marketer has is to contact their base regularly always ensuring there is a mechanism for recipients to amend or enhance their details. However, even with constant updates from the customer, it is imperative that the business realizes the value of the information that a customer provides. Therefore, business rules and maintenance processes must be put in place at every touch point. These processes should range from technological business rules to individuals within the business taking responsibility for the information they collect.

Boyle: Have qualified staff on hand who can recognize data quality problems or find someone who can. Introduce or re-evaluate data hygiene measures and run these on the entire database every quarter; strict data hygiene rules need to be applied to all new customers and records. A key business rule is to apply strict data hygiene rules when adding new fields or tables to a database; develop measurement metrics that can easily detect data quality issues.

BtoB: Take a b-to-b marketer that has not engaged in any sophisticated database marketing. What can that marketer do right now to get more value from its in-house database?

Starr: First they need to have a vision of what they want to do with the data. Once you have a vision, start with analyzing what you have on the base and start to build some simple segments. This may be no more than high-, medium- and low-value [customers], but at least it informs you on where your returns are likely to come from and where you should invest your resources. After this, devise programs that look to gather more relevant information, which can be used moving forwards to define more detailed and advanced strategies that can be refined and revised to improve effectiveness. It will never be possible to move forward or maximize the strategy's effectiveness unless tracking and measurement are put in place at the start.

Haas: Invest in data cleansing. Without quality data, any efforts to perform database marketing against these businesses will at best be minimized. At worst, the marketer could easily see inaccurate and negative results. Identify key information needs; then develop questions that can be consistently integrated into customer touch points (such as in-bound customer service calls, direct response pieces, Web site profile information, etc.). Append the information gained to the customer record and start to profile and segment customers. Identify your best customers and look for others who match that profile. Simple segmentation and profiling processes can enable the company to purchase records of prospects that meet the same criteria.

Boyle: Identify some simple segments within their customer base-largest or smallest customers; highest- or lowest-value customers-and then create some simple marketing programs. The results will help you refine which segments to focus on and what realistic marketing goals should be. Any savvy marketer can identify segments of opportunity-and associated marketing initiatives-without a sophisticated econometric model or the use of state-of-the-art CRM technologies.

Kourtis: My best advice is to do something. Too many companies collect data for the sake of collecting data. Use your most recent and relevant data, create test segments, mail them the best packages you can create and then see what happens. Sales results are the best possible data.

Guest Column: Maintaining the right data on the right people

By Mac McIntosh

"Less is more" is an adage that seems strange in a world that always wants bigger, better and more. But in managing a database, keeping it simple is usually the best strategy. It's not difficult to fill a database with information about companies and contacts at those companies. What is difficult is making sure the information is both relevant and actionable.

One of the first things to decide is what type of data to capture. Putting every bit of information about companies and contacts into a database just because you can, or think you should, leads to overload and paralysis. You must know what you'll do with the information before you create new fields in the database for it. Then you won't get bogged down with managing minutiae that have no relevance to the tasks at hand.

There are, however, a few occasions when "more is more," especially when it comes to maintaining multiple contacts per company in your database. An effective b-to-b data-base must include not just the buying decision-makers, but also the three, five, 10 or more individuals at a company who influence the sale.

Who are these influencers? Start with the users of your products or services. Although they might not be able to make a buying decision themselves, they can open the doors to the right people. Additional influencers, such as attorneys, CPAs and consultants, might also have the ear of your top decision-makers. And finally, look to include key people at trade associations, industry analysts, company investors and trade press editors and reporters.

In marketing complex or big-ticket products or services, include more of these influencers, recommenders and decision-breakers at fewer companies. For example, store information on 10 individuals at 1,000 companies rather than one individual at 10,000 companies.

Keeping data active Traditionally, direct marketers use recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) measurements to make decisions about whom to keep active on their database. However, using only RFM may cause you to miss some of your best opportunities. Keep tabs on emerging customers that haven't yet spent their way to the top tier but that are showing the kind of growth over time that will get them there. Treating these customers as if they already have "top customer" status can be the quickest way to make them actual top customers.

At the same time, make sure your data are up to date. Every marketing "touch point" is an opportunity to verify a contact's information. Ask more about the contacts, get corrected addresses and learn about the sales opportunities they represent each time you mail, e-mail or call. When you ask them to help you update their records, be able to tell them what's in it for them. Make relevant offers, such as useful how-to guides and notifications of upcoming events, so it's worth their while to participate.

Targeting the marketplace Now that you have a fit and trim database, you are ready to target the marketplace.

Many chief marketing officers don't fully understand the marketing database and what to expect from it. Conversely, tactical database man-agers are often well acquainted with the nuts and bolts of the data but are unable to see the bigger picture. It is imperative that the top marketer thoroughly understand the marketing database and its capabilities and applications so that he or she can provide clear direction, obtainable goals and relevant strategies to the tacticians managing the database.

To improve your ROI, reconsider how you allocate your marketing budget. Instead of spending the lion's share of your budget on branding and lead-generation activities, put up to half your budget into database-driven relationship marketing programs that develop relationships with known prospects, and into programs aimed at existing customers for retention, upgrades and sales of other products or services.

M.H. "Mac" McIntosh is president of Mac McIntosh Inc. (www.salesleadexperts.com), a sales and marketing consultancy in North Kingstown, R.I. Data quality needs to be assessed before cleansing

Special Report: Psst… It's not your CRM, it's the data!

By Jack Waite

A recent satisfaction survey revealed that up to 73% of companies deploying CRM applications questioned the return on their investment. All finger pointing aside, the inability to implement a results-oriented CRM strategy can likely be traced to the quality of databases rather than the CRM software's utility.

Unlike fine wine, your database does not improve with age. The accuracy of its records deteriorates daily. Companies go out of business every day while new ones open. Area codes change daily, and ZIP codes are in a constant state of flux. Add in faulty data entry and the problem becomes self-evident.

Inaccurate data result in diminished employee production and wasted marketing dollars. For example, if a database of 10,000 entries has 4,000 duplicates or other indices of outdated information, the cost of a direct marketing campaign using this data will be 40% higher than it needs to be. Most would consider that a failed campaign.

Cleaning a file can cost $12 to $20 per record for a simple cleaning or as much as $90 or more for extensive appending. For small businesses that are inclined not to spend the money, consider this: In Chicago last year, 600 restaurants went out of business and 742 restaurants opened their doors. If you're selling to restaurants and you sent out a mailer to a year-old list, you just missed 1,342 prospects.

The good news is regardless of the size of your database you can maintain the integrity of your data files for a fraction of the dollars you stand to lose.

But while you might believe that cleaning your database is something you can do yourself, I would advise against it. In-house scrubbing is ineffectual for one simple reason: human error. A couple of missed keystrokes as you manually update your list and you might as well have done nothing at all. Database vendors go through several automated steps to ensure the accuracy of their data.

Not only will a clean database result in more qualified sales leads at a lower per-unit cost, a database vendor can beef up addresses with ZIP-plus four coding and carrier route information that will help lower your mailing costs. The ZIP-plus four code is just as important to businesses as it is to consumers. A financial institution, required to mail statements to its corporate clients on a quarterly basis, can drastically reduce the cost of returned mail by cleaning its database prior to that mailing; a heating and air-conditioning company may clean twice a year, before advertising tune-up services for HVAC systems before summer or winter hits.

The amount of time between cleanings is up to you, but databases of any size will work more effectively with periodic maintenance.

And how about finding those businesses and the right contact person? Did you know that in 2003 2 million new businesses were formed, 2 million contact names changed and almost 700,000 businesses changed their names? Some of them might have been your customers. But with a new name, at least according to your database, they no longer exist. Your primary contact at a particular business may have changed. Unfortunately, your database doesn't have a clue. The new contact could become your new best customer-that is, if they knew about you and, more importantly, you knew about them.

Most companies that clean databases also maintain qualified prospect lists that mirror your current clients. Information can be compiled by ZIP code, business size or other criteria that you select. You get your database back with not only accurate information on your current clients and prospects but with new data on qualified prospects-all clean and shiny for your next marketing campaign.

Give it a try. You paid thousands of dollars to empower an effective CRM platform. Shouldn't you fuel it with the best possible database?

Jack Waite is president of Mid Markets, a division of infoUSA, a provider of proprietary business and consumer databases and sales and marketing solutions based in Omaha, Neb. He can be reached at jack.waite@infousa.com.

Database Marketing: Companies learn they can't manage what they can't measure

By Christine Blank

Recognizing that the success of their marketing efforts hinges on the quality of their databases, companies are more committed than ever to data cleansing efforts. But before conducting a complete database overhaul, marketers should assess the quality of their lists, experts say.

"The first step, instead of believing that your data are garbage, is find out if that is true," said Bernice Grossman, founder of DMRS Group, a relationship marketing firm in New York. After the marketer knows exactly what type of data they have, they can assess whether or not they need data cleansing and integration software, she said.

"Companies are understanding now that you can't manage what you can't measure," said Steve Varsalona, market development director for Firstlogic, a data quality software firm in La Crosse, Wis. Marketers can use data profiling software to evaluate the quality of lists before cleansing, Varsalona said. "You can run a quick test on a file and make a determination of how good or bad that list is. Based on a this quick snapshot, [marketers] can see which [list] providers have the highest completeness of records, the most e-mail addresses and the most phone numbers," he said.

Catching inaccuracies earlier In the past, b-to-b firms invested a significant amount of money to quickly integrate their data, then, once the system was implemented, they saw many inaccuracies in the data. Now, more marketers are assessing the quality of the data early in the process.

"There is becoming more of a need for data assessment rather than data quality," said Bob McGrail, director of marketing at Trillium Software, a division of Harte-Hanks.

Trillium customer Alfa Insurance Co. began a data cleansing overhaul about two years ago to ensure compliance with the insurance industry's strict regulations regarding changing names and addresses on policies.

In addition, Alfa executives said they needed to streamline their customer information: It was spread across several different files, which led to data inconsistencies. "We did not want a customer to be contacted multiple times on the same issue," said Cathy Mason, systems manager for Alfa Insurance.

Executives also knew they had to clean data before they implemented a new policy management system by the end of 2004 and before they switched data management from a mainframe to a database system, a project they're currently undertaking.

Alfa implemented in-house software from Trillium to ensure that the proper fields-such as job title, a field not included in Alfa Insurance's old system-are filled, data is consistent across all databases and anomalies are identified so the specific customer can be contacted.

Marketers must also decide whether to handle data cleansing in-house or to outsource it.

"There is some acknowledgement that outsourcing has been a fairly expensive proposition for some of its specializing work," said Jeff Kanter, exec VP-operations at Innovative Systems, a data integration company in Pittsburgh.

"Some organizations can run it more efficiently in-house, using vendor-supplied software," he added. Running the system in-house, marketers can have more control over the data cleansing specifications, including identifying duplicates and grouping certain customers together, he said.

Outsourcing hinders view When b-to-b firms outsource, they do not have a complete view of their customers, said Brian Kordelski, data quality product manager for Ascential Software, Westboro, Mass. "If they are outsourcing for suppression or demographic overlays, they are most likely continuing to outsource for a clear view of their customers and prospects. This limits the ability to monitor and manage these critical customer information stores," he said. Yet outsourcing still makes sense for many companies, Grossman said. "If the marketing database is inside, then you have to do all your data hygiene inside, but most companies are still not at a level where they can do all their own database marketing."

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