While standing in line at a cash register in a woman’s retail store, I observed an interesting scenario, which got me to think about duplicate records in a different way. The store clerk asked the woman for her e-mail address. The client replied, "Which one?"
Although most of us have multiple email addresses, few of us ask strangers which account they prefer. Store clerks are unlikely to be sophisticated marketers, but this exchange made me realize they are on the front lines when it comes to data collection and entry. After all, a major brand was going to use this information for their lead gen efforts.
In the past marketers never had to worry about duplicates, as direct mail campaigns are easily de-duped by address. However, what's a marketer to do in today’s world where every prospect has at least two active e-mail accounts?
If other demographic information is available about the individual, it's possible to merge the different e-mail addresses together. However, it is very rare that this information gets used any further.
Companies work hard to de-dupe records, which is particularly important when sending out different marketing messages, but how do marketers account for the reality that message recipients open different e-mails at different times? What happens if one e-mail becomes a bounce-back? How do companies weigh the fact that the prospect was interested enough to supply two e-mail addresses? What about the traditional marketing perspective that the more times a person sees an ad the more likely she is to respond?
The above are all questions that should be considered by marketers. For companies who have not asked the individual anything other than their e-mail, there is more information available to you than you may think. For example, what is the source of the information?
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