How to health check your data

Customer data decays at an alarming rate (approximately 37.5% every year), with thousands of people moving home or passing away daily.

We recently conducted some research which found that nearly two-thirds (61%) of small businesses do not run any data cleaning or update processes on the data they hold. This is despite the fact that almost four-fifths (79%) were aware of the legal requirement to keep data clean and accurate, and that the most successful marketing activities are those that use data to inform them.

Giving customer data a health check to ensure it is current and compliant is not only a legal requirement, but it also improves marketing communications, avoids brand damage and saves money on wasted activities.

Legal requirements and ethical foundations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires data be kept clean and accurate or be deleted, irrespective of the size of the business. Despite GDPR being more than three years old, cases and fines are on the up: the cumulative number of GDPR violations increased 113.5% between July 2020 and July 2021, and last year, the number of fines was 332: this has risen to 709 in 2021.

There are other, ethical, considerations too. Customer data can bring real value to your business, and as such it should be respected and nurtured, which puts the onus on the organisation to shape the data they are given. After all, if customers are trusting your business with their data, then you should be doing everything you can to repay that trust and to use that valuable data wisely, ethically and responsibly.

While GDPR enshrines what you must do by law, you should always be asking what you should be doing or saying. It is increasingly important that we consider our values as individuals, organisations and societies, to ensure we’re putting in place the right ethical foundations for how data is used for future generations.

With all this in mind, then, what are the practical steps needed to give your customer and prospect data a health check?

Store it correctly

Our recent research revealed that only 40% of SMBs hold their customer and prospect data in a CRM or other database: a surprisingly low figure given that businesses need to maintain contact with their customers for sales and marketing purposes, and never more so than since March 2020. 

Irrespective of the format it is held in, centralising the customer data you hold into a CRM or database makes its storage, management and upkeep much easier. That means that any marketing processes will also be so much more efficient and effective too. Customer engagement – which we see as a combination of data, creativity and tech – relies on the ability to interrogate, analyse and select data to contact customers and build ongoing relationships.

Over the last 18 months, as face-to-face engagement has declined, this has become even more important. We have seen many companies come to realise that they don’t hold their customer data in a manageable way, that they need to keep it up to date and then that they need to use it to communicate with their customers and prospects. The companies that have done well during this period have created relationships with consumers, as well as making it easy for those customers to buy from them.

Cleaning your data

As we’ve mentioned, the law requires personal data to be kept clean and accurate, and customers expect it too. But on top of that, having a current database not only saves money and resources but also delivers better ROI and reduces the risk of brand damage. Choosing a trusted data cleaning solution to optimise the quality of your data and maximise compliance is now business critical.

Fully automated data cleaning solutions which provide real-time access to data cleaning products enable you to remove both deceased contacts and those who have moved away. Being able to remove anyone who has passed away from your marketing database not only reduces the risk of reputational damage but also keeps your data clean and enhances campaign performance

Likewise, there are solutions to identify people who have relocated, consisting of consented data sets from organisations that have been notified when someone moves in or moves out of a property. This includes information from the government or local authorities and blue-chip organisations that have a transactional relationship with their customers.

By cleaning your data regularly, you reduce the risk of having to delete data and reduce your marketable database; avoid heavy fines for non-adherence to the GDPR; and save time, money and resources by not marketing to people who will not receive the communication.

Engagement matters

No matter what size the business, customer engagement is vital. And customer engagement rests on good quality data and keeping it clean and updated. Buck the trend and give your data a health check: your bottom line will thank you.

Startup Details

Startup Details


REaD Group

REaD Group is the UK’s largest independent data driven communications group.

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