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Data Quality Spotlight: Latin America

Date: May, 2014 --

Data Quality Spotlight
Latin America contains some of the fastest growing economies in the world and presents a viable marketplace for the products/services of international marketers. But as many data-driven marketers have come to learn, working with Latin American (and Caribbean) address data requires a specialized understanding of regional nuances. Here Data Services, Inc. answers all your FAQ's regarding Latin American data quality and shares expertise to help you manage more accurate databases!

The State of the Data

Latin American countries are fairly similar in the sense that, for the majority of marketers, their primary interest is going to be in the more developed urban areas where postal addresses are more standardized, access to the internet, and it’s accompanying marketing opportunities, is more ubiquitous and the majority of consumers with discretionary income, or businesses with the same, are going to be located. From country to country, the quality of address data is going to depend largely on the state of modernization of the local postal operator as well as the availability of affiliated postal databases. As we’ll discuss, this is going to vary greatly from one market to the next and is an important factor to take into account within your programs.

Potential Data Quality Issues

In many markets, data, especially outside of urban areas, can present nuances that, while not necessarily rendering the data undeliverable, may require additional reliance on the knowledge of the local postman to get your mail piece delivered to its intended recipient. The most well known of these potential issues is the ‘descriptive address’ in the street field of the contact’s postal address. As the name implies, this type of address record will not contain a typical street level delivery point but rather a description that directs the postal worker to the location. Whereas a traditional address’ street field might read ‘123 Main Street’, the descriptive street field might say something like ‘3rd House from Tennis Court’.

Validating Latin American Data with Address Hygiene

Unlike many companies, Data Services, Inc. utilizes a comprehensive process involving sophisticated address standardization routines developed over decades of working with international address data. Keep in mind this pre-processing takes place before any data hits our address validation software, and is done to ensure records are properly standardized and optimally formatted in such a way that guarantees the best possible outcome in the correction/validation phase, which relies on the postal database for the country to which a given record belongs.

Things to Keep in Mind

1)    A Descriptive Address is Not Necessarily a Bad Address: In many cases very good customers correspond to a record with such an address and, while such a record may be flagged by a hygiene software, it’s important to note that this may simply signal that these addresses need closer scrutiny if/when you decide to mail them.

2)    Be Sure to Account for Special Characters: Latin American data often contains special characters including the tilde (~) and other accent marks (`). While not imperative, it is beneficial if you are able to maintain these characters in your database. This is especially true within the contact name fields given that people will always prefer to see their name properly written out. The importance and inclusion of these accent marks within the mail-ready address block is going to vary from country to country.

3)    Understand Market-Specific Address Validation Capabilities: While Data Services, Inc. is able to standardize and ensure proper formatting for addresses from 240 countries and territories, we employ an alpha scale, ranging from A – E, in order to denote the level to which we are able to validate the individual elements within a postal address record for a given country. This will range from ‘Level A’ countries, where full delivery point verification is possible, to ‘Level E’ countries where no postal data is available and DSI is only able to assist with assuring proper formatting of the addresses on your file (For a complete list of countries with corresponding codes, see here). Countries in Latin America span our scale so, while virtually all data will benefit from being passed through DSI’s international address hygiene services, it’s important to understand the extent to which data will be ‘validated’ from country to country.

Keep in mind that Data Services does not employ a one-size-fits all model to our clients and routinely customizes individual processing methodologies to ensure quality output purposed for your country-specific marketing programs and/or related data management initiatives. This approach is integral to client success in working with Latin American and other international data. Reach out to schedule a no-obligation consultation regarding your data management needs and/or request a Free Data Hygiene Test to see firsthand how your data will benefit from our benchmark international data quality services.