Edward Touw

Database Marketing and Web Surveys, Avoid Corruption

Written by Edward Touw on

When it comes to database marketing, corrupted lists are your worst enemy. Not only should your data be as up to date as possible, you also want it to be relevant and qualitative. Because the more irrelevant data you have, the higher the risk of a corrupted database.

Good database marketing starts with gathering the right information. Web surveys are a great way of enriching your database with relevant data. But there are some pitfalls you want to avoid. By asking the wrong questions, you could be gathering irrelevant, or even incorrect data.

To illustrate the issues this can lead to: according to research from Dun & Bradstreet, in an average database 60 per cent of the files is corrupted. A nightmare for anyone who works in database marketing. A lot of companies even turned out to have 35 per cent less customers than they thought.

That’s why you should always maintain a clean database. Starting with the gathering of correct and relevant data. A few tips for composing a good web survey:

Ask the right multiple choice questions
When composing a survey, a lot of marketers tend to ask multiple choice questions. A logical choice, since these answers are the easiest to process automatically in your database. It can also be a very good decision, as long as you choose your words carefully.

1. Avoid false dilemmas
Sometimes when filling in an online survey, you stumble onto questions like: what is your favourite food? Where the possible answers will be something like: pasta, potatoes and meat. This however is a false dilemma. With all the different kinds of food in the world, a lot of your respondents are bound to have other preferences than just one of these three options.

2. Don't be suggestive
In the example above, even if you add an option like ‘other:’ you should still be cautious. By suggesting three other possibilities first, a respondent could unconsciously be steered into choosing one of those options. In other words: you’ll get incorrect information which eventually will make you less effective in database marketing.

3.    Be careful with answers that don’t exclude each other

‘Are you satisfied with our services?’ An excellent question to ask in an online survey. But not very effective if you give respondents the following options: 

  • Yes, I’m satisfied
  • Yes, I would recommend your services to my friends
  • No, I’m not satisfied

Answers 1 and 2 don’t exclude each other. In a case like this, don’t use radio buttons that only allow someone to choose one option in your survey. Rather give your respondent the possibility to tick multiple answers.

Don’t ask unnecessary questions
To be able to do database marketing effectively, it’s important to restrain yourself from  gathering irrelevant information. Is it really important for a camping material reseller to know how far away their customers go camping? Or as a tea manufacturer, how significant is it to know if your target audience rather drinks from cups or mugs?

By asking unnecessaryquestions, not only are you gathering irrelevant information and increasing the risk of database corruption, you are also taking up more of your respondents’ time. So for every additional question you ask, you increase the risk of a respondent not finishing the survey.

Don’t get greedy
Information is the key to successful database marketing. Relevant data is what you want, and as much as you can get your hands on. That’s why as a marketer, you might feel inclined to make all questions in a survey ‘required’.

Respondents however aren’t always able to answer a certain question. Or sometimes they just don’t want to. By compelling them do so anyway, you aren’t exactly increasing your chances of getting reliable information. So if you want to keep your database clean, offer your respondents the option to skip a question.