40 Million Reasons Your Customer Data Isn’t As Current as You Think (or Hope)

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While not getting as much buzz as social media when it comes to hot topics for in 2009, “customer data management” is something that marketers are starting to take seriously. It’s easy to start envisioning fancy pictures of capturing and using customer data:

  • Using behavioral data to drive timely and relevant emails
  • Integrating information across different customer touchpoints/channels to deduce customers’ and prospects’ preferred communications medium
  • Building analytic models to predict which customers are most likely to churn and making special offers to retain them

Those are all admirable goals. And, they’re all attainable. AND, they’re all going to be expected baseline capabilities within five years.

Before you tackle these higher order applications, it’s worth grounding yourself in an understanding of how rapidly customer data decays. Here are a couple of fun facts to wrap your head around on that front:

  • The U.S. Postal Service processes over 40 million address changes annually [source]
  • The population of the United States is estimated as being just north of 300 million [source]

Clearly, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. But, we tend to imagine that our customers and prospects are more static than, in reality, they are — who they work for, what their job title is, and, yes, even where they live.


  1. I agree, clean customer data is very important. Back in the 90’s when I was doing nationwide direct mail, every list purchased and our customer data used in a mailing went through NCOA to maximize delivery. Our customer files were updated either monthly or quarterly. Growing up in that industry taught me to value ‘clean’ customer data. The cleaniless of the data went beyond the address records.

  2. I’m in agreement too! I just ran into this a few weeks ago doing client email sends to a verified/qualified list of UT students that had entered a ticket drawing. Within 3 weeks of the students registering to win concert tickets (winner was communicated via email which recipients were informed of this), we were going to use the same list to do another raffle. 32% of the addresses bounced back!!! YIKES… what went wrong and did info go bad so quickly? I’ve not figured this out, but vouch that information changes much like breathing! 🙂

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