How to Use Data Appends

By Sean Mulvaney

The landscape of data is ever changing and has evolved more in the last 15 years than it has in the previous 50 years.  And using it properly can greatly aid financial marketers.

As data providers continue to grow and expand, so too have data aggregators who (for the most part) have no real original data assets other than their ability to:

  • Bring in many different data providers
  • Cross reference data feeds
  • Produce their own unique set of data assets

The purpose in doing this is to allow aggregators to provide more data (and more complete data), eliminate any false positives, and ensure it is the cleanest and quickest data available.

A data append is the adding of demographic data to a bank’s existing customer file. This additional data allows for further refinement and targeting during a marketing campaign.

Validating and appending email.

One of the most valuable appends available is email.  A valid email address can be a valuable resource to a marketing team—and if an institution has a 50% penetration of valid emails, they are definitely in the minority.

Institutions may believe they have “well over 50% email penetration,” but are those emails all valid?  The answer starts with an analysis of the email database (this is almost always done at no charge). The data hygiene provider will first take in the email data set, along with the related names and addresses, in order to provide a report outlining the percentage of emails that both agree on, the percent disagreed on, and of that percent, how many the provider can append and correct.

In addition to this process, emails should be appended where they are missing. Similar to the process mentioned above, this starts with a free analysis of a simple name and address file.

This is where working with a data aggregator can be very beneficial. If an institution were to single source this process, they could expect to get 20%-25% verified/valid email addresses returned. Working with multiple sources would get this percentage up to about 40%-60%.

With a new or updated email address, the communication process can begin. The first step is to send an email to these new or updated contacts informing them that the institution is updating their records and wants to confirm how they prefer to be communicated with. If email is not one of those channels, the user is instructed to “simply unsubscribe by clicking here.”

In doing these two very simple and inexpensive processes, you can clean up 25% of existing emails and add 50% of new emails where they were missing, opening up a vast new channel for low cost marketing. Of course, these emails should be used wisely and not abused with too much content too frequently.

Identifying demographic data and share of wallet.

There are many different additional data resources available to append to a current customer base (and prospect base). In fact, there are over 1,000 different demographic data points that can be assigned to most households. These appends include:

  1. Affluency data
    • Age
    • Income
    • Investable assets
    • Home value
    • Spending habits
    • Debit ratio
    • Lending risk score
    • Presence of children and ages

2.  Social media

3.  Ethnic data

4.  Email preference

5.  Religion/politics

6.  Roughly 200 lifestyle preferences

    • NASCAR fan
    • Arts
    • Outdoor enthusiast
    • Books
    • Gardening
    • Pet owner
    • Charitable contributions
    • Cooking
    • Gaming
    • Wine

7.  Likelihood to respond to direct mail, email, social offers

8.  Modeled in-the-market data (are they in the market for a car, new home, etc.)

There are many different assets available that can help get a better understanding of customers and prospects. Simply by appending some affluency data, an institution can have a better understanding of the share of wallet they have with current customers.

Lifestyle data can also be appended to the most valuable customer base to get a better understanding how to target and model for prospect acquisition and what lifestyle images may be used in creative.

In addition to these different data appends, marketers can also take advantage of life stage trigger monitoring appends. These allow an institution to not just communicate and sell to current customers, but to connect at just the right time.

Sean Mulvaney is vice president of product development at WordCom, Inc., located in Ellington, CT. WordCom is a direct marketing agency specializing in target marketing and data analytics. Email: Sean@wordcom-inc.com.

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