At some point in our careers, we’ve all had a data mishap. A colleague recently shared a direct mail promotion he received from a high-end jeweler. The headline read, “KEVIN, this Valentine’s day, give LESLEY the gift she really wants,” along with an image of a beautiful diamond necklace. The only problem—Kevin and Lesley are brother and sister. (And yes, they were horrified at the jeweler’s suggestion.) Was the jeweler trying to promote sibling love? Doubtful. More likely: Major. Data. Fail.

Obviously, this example is variable data gone wrongeither mismatched data points, misinterpreted data relationships or just plain bad data. But whatever the reason, with GDPR just around the corner, it’s crucial that your data is in order. Understanding who’s in your database, as well as the age and viability of each record, is a foundational piece of GDPR prep. Think of it this way: retaining junk data is a liability for you. Why risk costly fines due to keeping questionable records?

What’s Lurking in your Data Pool?

GDPR Database Management

Over time, junk records creep into your files and weigh down your performance metrics, create potential marketing disasters and set you up for GDPR problems. Time to scrub the pool! The best way to identify junk data and gain more insight into the composition of your database is by creating a marketable records segmentation. Any groups regularly suppressed should be pulled into this segmentation. What should you be looking for?

Inactive Records: Since GDPR stipulates not retaining data longer than necessary, flag outdated recordsor in the absence of a defined expiration datethose that have not opened or clicked on an email or have not visited a webpage in the last 12 months. We’ll try to reactivate these names—more on that topic in a minute.

Disqualified Records: Be on the lookout for trash and disqualified records especially, usually corresponding to a lifecycle stage of trash or disqualified and including names rejected by sales.

Role Accounts: These are email addresses for a specific role that don’t have a human associated with them. Under GDPR, such records are not considered “personal data” but since they don’t benefit sales, remove them. To do so, include a filter for email that starts with and contains descriptors such as news@ administrator@ unsubscribe@ customerservice@ webmaster@ info@

Junk Domains/Data: Just as the name suggests, these bogus domains include data strings such as “ABC,” “XYZ,” swear words and email addresses without an @ symbol. Dump the junk!

Undesirable Personas: Examples include students, retirees, and maybe the media. If not a viable lead, they are not worth the potential risk of retaining.

Country Data: Run a query to determine if all records have normalized country information. Flag those that do not or are missing country data altogether.

Opt-In Sources: Is consent GDPR compliant? Do you have proper record-keeping to back that up? Create a separate segmentation based on current compliance status and deploy a whitelisting campaign for records compliant with current EU Directive legislation that may fall short of GDPR standards. Remember, this may include records that have consent, but the consent is dated.

Preserving Potentially Viable Records

OK! You’ve done some cleaning on your database; now it’s time to look at the questionable and non-compliant records to retain as many as possible before GDPR goes into effect. Campaigns you’ll want to run sooner rather than later include:

Whitelisting: Using the records you’ve flagged as being compliant with the EU Directive, but not quite GDPR-standard, send an email requesting permission to receive future marketing communications. In that process, also ask the recipient to whitelist your sender domain. Be sure to include a link to your privacy policy and obtain proper consent records, which includes a date-timestamp, opt-in source, and opt-in IP, if available.

Wake the Dead: Every database has a group of inactive records. Maybe user interest has changed, your emails were lost in the inbox noise, or they were just too busy to respond. Launch a “wake the dead” nurture campaign, targeting records which stand out from the “junk” in an attempt to re-engage potentially viable users. Using a “we miss you” approach combined with your best content is usually most effective, but creativity is your friend. If your emails were getting lost in the noise, bold messaging could be the solution to capturing their attention. And obtaining appropriate consent to receive ongoing marketing communications goes without saying. Non-responders to your campaign efforts should be considered “dead” and permanently removed from your database.

Database Management: It’s All in the Details

Like many of the tasks necessary for GDPR preparation, data cleansing isn’t the most exciting or glamorous aspect of your job. As I’m sure you’ll agree, database maintenance is meticulous and time-consuming. But, if an afternoon’s work potentially prevents a €20 million fine, it’s time well spent.

Grow your Marketo skills, ask your GDPR questions and meet the Perkuto team at Marketing Nation Summit April 29 – May 2, 2018. Register as a Perkuto referral and save $300 when you use promo code Perkuto300.  (Woo Hoo! Who doesn’t love to save money?)