This guest post was written by our partner FormAssembly. FormAssembly is a web-based service that helps businesses and professionals create state-of-the-art web forms and surveys, and collect data without the need for technical skills or desktop software. Learn more about FormAssembly on their website.

Data collection is our bread and butter here at FormAssembly. But what good is data collection when the data you’re collecting is, well, no good?

There are a lot of ways that data integrity can be compromised, whether a person mistyped an email or phone number or deliberately put in a fake piece of information to avoid being contacted. Spam is another possibility. Whatever the reason, having incorrect, incomplete or out-of-date records is never a good thing. Here’s why:

1. Wasted Time

It takes time to build the right form for your needs, create marketing campaigns, send messages and track the results. If you’re working with incorrect records, this could prevent your message from reaching your customers. If this happens, the work you put into marketing materials and emails, as well as the time spent gathering information, won’t pay off as much as it could.

2. Wasted Communication Attempts

Yes, it’s getting harder and harder to reach the modern consumer, but there are still tons of people that want to receive your marketing messages. That is, if you put the time and work into understanding what they want to hear, then put just as much time into creating a message that is both attractive and on-point. It can be downright depressing to find out you’ve gone through all that effort only to have your messages sent to outdated, fake, or incorrect email addresses.

3. Lost Opportunities and Unhappy Customers

You’d be pretty upset if you took the time to sign up for something, but you didn’t get what you were expecting, right? Well, your customers likely feel the same way. In addition to losing the opportunity to turn an interested list member into a customer, bad or incorrect data can create disappointed, disgruntled customers.

4. Incomplete Picture of Your Audience

Having any kind of data on your audience and constituents can help you understand them better and provide better services that better fit their needs. Invalid, error-filled lists do just the opposite: they cloud your understanding of who your customers really are.

On the flip side of all this, a complete and correct email list that’s been verified for accuracy means your messages have a much greater chance of reaching the people they’re supposed to and making the proper impact.

But before you can take any steps to improve your data integrity, you need to know what bad data actually looks like.

Types of Bad Data

Incorrect Information

Sometimes people are in a hurry and simply mistype information. In this case, even if they wanted to receive communications from you, you might not be able to reach them because of the incorrect contact information. Allowing people to view a form before they submit it could help to correct any unintentional errors. Software that checks email validity could also help to avoid any email addresses that were entered incorrectly without a person knowing it.

Missing Information

If people don’t have to enter contact information, say, in a web-to-lead form, they might not do it. To keep this from happening, make the most important fields on your form (email address, phone number, etc.) mandatory, or simply remove any non-mandatory fields and make all the fields required.

Outdated Information

Maybe your list used to be complete and correct, but over time, people’s information can change, whether they’ve moved or switched jobs. According to the January 2014 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people change jobs roughly every four and a half years. If your list is older than four years, you should definitely start working on getting updated information. That said, you should really be checking that your information is correct and up to date much more frequently than that, because there’s no exact way of knowing how often each individual member will change their information.

Falsified information

Sometimes data integrity problems stem from honest mistakes, but in other cases, you might be getting spammed by bots signing up for your email list with spammy information. According to MailChimp, these spam signups reduce your knowledge about the real makeup and demographics of your email list. Do you really want to be sending the content and messages you spent so much time on to fake email addresses?

So, What Can You Do?

The good news about all this is that you’re not powerless. BriteForms from BriteVerify is a new solution that, when used in conjunction with FormAssembly, can help identify incorrect email addresses on the spot and keep spammers out without requiring your users to solve CAPTCHAs, which are jumbled strings of text and numbers used to distinguish between human and artificial intelligence. FormAssembly is the leading choice for form creation and data collection, and BriteForms can help ensure that the data you’re collecting is correct.

Learn more about FormAssembly’s plans and try a two-week free trial today.

BriteVerify provides Real-time email verification solutions that improve email data quality, Inbox deliverability and email marketing ROI. With offices in the U.S. and the U.K., BriteVerify helps over 35,000 customers in 150 countries collect better email data and send smarter campaigns.