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Winery Customer Database or Digital Junk Drawer

Dirty customer data is the silent killer of marketing campaigns.

Everybody has a breaking point. Mine was the week after Christmas when my 4-year-old son, high on gingerbread and fresh pine scent, needed a new toy opened up. Of course, it was one of those that comes packaged in its own SuperMax prison of zip-ties, packing tape, and staples. I needed scissors, but when I pulled on the junk drawer in the kitchen to retrieve them, I found it swollen shut. Much to the dismay of my son, the simple task at hand had taken a back seat to grappling with a cumbersome, unruly catch-all.

It’s the central location where all of your data ends up, but with time, it begins to fill up with incomplete records, old irrelevant data, and unusable information. And the honest truth is that your dirty data is costing you.“Dirty data is the silent killer of marketing campaigns. It makes you look bad, depresses the impact of great content and offers, and can put your brand, reputation, and domain at risk.” – Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing, Digitalist Mag

Your digital junk drawer is an embarrassing mess. There – I said it. The only way to make it better is to clean it up. So where do you start?


Until you know what you’re working with, you can’t do anything else. You’ve got to step back and look at your entire customer database. Examine your situation, identify where your customer data lives, and do what is necessary to get a complete view.


Blank customer records, incoherent email addresses, and isolated data fields are the digital equivalent of orphaned pen caps, crusty rubber bands, and rogue tic-tacs. Ask yourself if there is any opportunity for the data to help your business at any point in the future. If you can answer “No” right away, it’s got to go.

So, what are some obvious examples of data garbage?

Customer records that don’t have enough info to make them useful for any purpose:

  • Only a City Name
  • Only a first Name
  • No contact info whatsoever

Nonsense email addresses:



When you don’t know what you already have, it’s really easy to get that same item again. That’s why I found 4 copies of the same Thai takeout menu in my drawer.

The question is not “Do you have duplicate records?” but “How many duplicates do you have?” You might have a perfectly good reason for having some duplicate accounts. But more than likely, it’s a result of poor/lazy/rushed data entry. Email address is most likely your best qualifier to use to find duplicates, so start there. Wherever possible, merge the duplicate records to retain all of the data. When it makes sense to delete, do so without mercy.


Now comes the hardest part – organizing and segmenting the data. This is where you lay the groundwork that will allow your data to become an asset and a tool, instead of a headache. When you’re segmenting your customer records, think about what kinds of conversations you might have with them. Would you talk to a 73-year-old woman the same way you would talk to a 27-year-old man? Probably not. What about someone who lives a few miles from your tasting room vs. someone from the other side of the country?


Customer hierarchy: Figure out which customers are your best and isolate them. Spend history? Club Members? Spend frequency? Visit frequency?

Customer engagement: Knowing how and when customers are engaging with your brand is great! Knowing who isn’t engaging is even better. Keep your finger on how customers react (or don’t) to your marketing efforts and adjust accordingly when you see performance degrade.

Purchase history: What? Where? When? Tailor your message to your customer’s preferences and watch your conversions soar.

Location: Geo-targeting your marketing efforts can help you deal with local events, weather related issues, special winemaker appearances, exciting events, and many other scenarios with a personal touch.

The biggest takeaway from your segmentation exercise should be relevance. The power of your data can’t be fully exploited until you can deliver personally relevant content to your customers. Today’s consumer expects to receive personalized, relevant communication.


Almost there! All that’s left to do is place your clean, orderly segments back where they came from. This is also a good time to remove any irrelevant, useless data fields or add new ones to enhance customer profiles. Maintaining and maximizing your sparkling database is another topic for another day, but you should feel good about your fresh start to the new year.

A few days ago, my son brought me the last Christmas present still in the packaging – same SuperMax prison incarceration as usual. I casually approached the drawer, tugged lightly, and smiled victoriously as the scissors slid into view. Within a minute, the package was opened and I gained 45 minutes of uninterrupted NFL playoff bliss.

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