Data development and analysis: Reaching the right target audience

Data quality

High-quality data is critical to the success of your organization. It enables you to target, reach and influence your ideal prospects with laser-like accuracy. It empowers you to convert more of them into customers, donors, members and students. 

Trying to do business without accurate and complete data is like shooting darts blindfolded. You may get lucky and hit the target with a few of your shots. But most of them are going to miss the mark by a country mile.

Having high-quality, accurate data about your target audience enables you to give them exactly what they want. You’ll create a better customer experiences that keep them happy and satisfied. Moreover, you’ll grow your business and extend your reach by attracting even more people who look and behave like them.

Not only that, but high-quality data can help you maximize the return on your marketing investment, turning a greater percentage of marketing touches into qualified leads and sales. In short, improving data quality is a key area of improvement for most organizations.

The high cost of poor data quality

According to a Validity study, 27% of business owners reported that bad data cost their company over 10% in revenue. That’s a HUGE loss for something that could easily be fixed by proper data development and analysis.

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Many business leaders know their data can use improvement. According to Experian, 55% report that they lack trust in their data assets. Many organizations believe about a third of their customer and prospect data is inaccurate in some way.

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This problem has been exacerbated by the global pandemic and the business downturn it caused. More people have left or changed jobs than at any time in recent memory. That means your data is becoming outdated faster than ever. 

So how can you improve your results with better data? What should you do to ensure the data you have is valid, accurate, and reliable? Here is a three-step approach to help you make sure your data is lean, clean and helps you win more of the green.

1. Data validation

Data development starts with a cleanup of your old, inaccurate records. Yes, it can be a big job, but it will help you ensure that your existing data is complete and accurate.

During the data validation step, you’ll clean up inaccurate records, delete any that are irrelevant or invalid, and then fill in any missing data. This requires research and someone with experience in data clean-up to ensure that this process is done right. Look for third-party services that can help you append your existing data – filling in missing information in them.

2. Data segmentation

Once you’ve corrected and validated your data, the next step is to divide your target audience into useful segments, based on their qualities, behavior or other key characteristics. This will enable you to target each group with messages that are tailored to their interests and needs.

Segmenting your data has another important benefit: It enables you to identify more people who are aligned with each of the audience profiles you’ve developed. This will enable you to attract more customers, donors, students and other people who can benefit from what you have to offer.

3. Use data to drive decisions

Once you have accurate and complete data, you can use it to track the behavior of your audience every step of their buyer’s journey. That, in turn, arms you with additional data you can use to set strategy and guide your decisions. 94% of marketers report that they HAVE sales data, but a third don’t use it to inform their decisions. Data should be a critical driver for every step of your marketing programs. 

A good, better, best approach to success with data

In the last Forward Thinking article, we introduced you to Amy, an experienced marketer who has a solid background in design, writing and marketing. But she’s stuck. Increasingly, her target audience is ignoring her messages. Metrics for her recent campaigns have been dwindling. She needs a clear, practical roadmap to help her turn things around and improve her marketing results.

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Once again, we’ll use the good/better/best framework to explore how she can improve her data development and analysis strategy. This a what each level looks like:

  • Good approaches are adequate. They tend to follow the status quo. Many of us operate at this level. 
  • Better strategies incorporate best practices and are more focused on actual customer needs. 
  • The best strategies set a high bar for success. They elevate strategy, messaging and measurement to an exceptional level of effectiveness.


To create good data, Amy needs to define her organization’s ideal audience. Based on that, she can decide which records to keep, which to update and correct and which to discard. Once she has completed this first pass clean-up, she needs to design processes for data input and updating that will help her organization maintain data cleanliness on an ongoing basis. 

She should also establish a timetable for ongoing data cleanup. No matter what, data tends to get “dirtier” over time. Outdated, duplicate and inaccurate records can be an ongoing challenge, especially if her firm has multiple people doing data input and updates.

Next, Amy should begin segmenting her organization’s audience based on their demographics, industry, job role, buying habits and other key criteria. This will enable her to start delivering messages that are customized to their unique needs.


It’s time for Amy to level up her approach to data by looking for ways to grow it based on the ideal customer profiles she has created. In other words, she now has a clear picture of what her best customers look like. Now it’s time to find more people just like them. 

To do a better job of data development and analysis, Amy also needs to leverage tools to help her expand, clean and cull her data regularly. She should identify third-party data sources that can help her grow her database with new prospects as well as append her existing data. 


What are the best practices Amy can employ to improve her organization’s data? Ideally, all of its data sources should be integrated into one database that becomes the single source of truth—a 360-degree view of its customers, prospects and constituents. Armed with these insights, she can easily reach, build relationships with and persuade more of them to become customers, donors, members and students. 

If you’re ready to get a handle on your data and make it work harder for you, contact Heritage Printing today to discuss your needs. Data development and analysis are part of our new Heritage+ family of enhanced marketing services.

Direct Marketing Webinar:
Data Development & Analysis

Webinar #2

Get your database organized! In this 21-minute webinar, we’ll show you tips and tricks for gathering your data and making it a focused, effective tool.

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