Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Christmas Rant - Who Needs Data Quality in Marketing?

A few days before Christmas my family received a Christmas card in the mail from the real estate agent who handled the sale of the house we bought about 18 months ago. It read:

"Dear Scott, Louise and family, hope you are enjoying the big house. Thanks again and warm regards...."

No doubt it was part of a campaign to have us keep the agent top of mind next time we choose to sell a house, but a nice touch nonetheless. Or at least it would have been had my wife's name been Louise!

What's more the "big house" reference was odd as we had down-sized when we bought this house in order to get a property closer to the city. Something the agent should have known only too well as it had come up in conversation on a number of occasions.

Whilst I found the use of the wrong name a little amusing and the reference to the size of the house didn't bother me, my wife was less than happy. It's a safe bet that when we do choose to sell this house this agent will indeed be top of mind - as someone we will definitely not be using.

For less emotive reasons, I'd actually arrived at the same conclusion as my wife. When I sell a house I want the agent acting for me to employ numerous tools to ensure the fastest sale for the best possible price. One of the tools I expect him to use is a database of potential purchasers which he or she has compiled and curated over time. Now, if the agent in question is unable to get basic details right (such as the name of a purchaser and the size of houses they have lived in) then what faith can I have that any of the other details he has will be accurate. Chances are that all he has is a list of names and a collections of facts which may or may not be right. the marketing campaign he'll conduct on my property may well be targeted incorrectly, either missing an obvious potential buyer or having me waste funds marketing to those who have no interest in my property.

So, he's lost a potential future client. So what? Does that really matter, he hasn't really lost any money, has he? Well, I think he has. If you consider the standard fee for an agent (where I live at least) is 4.25% of the sale price and my house might sell for around half a million dollars then he'll actually miss out on the chance of around $21,000. What's more, if my wife tells 10 of her friends that number balloons out to close to a quarter of a million dollars. Sure, not all of those would have been in the market to sell, nor might he have been one of their considerations for a listing agent, but the point is that there is indeed a cost to what at first glance seems like an almost irrelevant data quality issue.

You don't need to work in real estate to be subject to cost stemming from data quality problems. I'm sure that something of the same ilk could happen in many industries. So next time you're faced with what seems like a data quality issue too trivial to worry about just remember John* and his lost income.

* Name changed to protect the not so innocent.

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