Monday, November 9, 2009

Cultural Translation and Data Management

There is always something interesting to learn when looking at marketing data. In looking at the raw data for the “Title” field within a client’s marketing database, we saw an interesting trend. The usual data was there; “VP of Marketing”, “Vice President of Sales”, “Dir. Finance”, etc, and it certainly made the need for inline data management obvious. However, there was another interesting trend that was more confusing. A reasonable portion of the fields contained values of “Mr”, “Mrs.”, “Herr”, or “Frau”.

Digging in to the data to see who it was that submitted this data, it became obvious that these were mainly from Europe. A quick chat with our European best practices team confirmed what we were beginning to suspect; the field on the landing page was asking for “Title”, and whereas in North America this is interpreted as “Job Title”, in Europe, it can just as easily be interpreted as “Salutation”.

Paying attention to data, by using reports like the Contact Group analysis dashboards can give you insights into problems, opportunities, and cultural differences before they are allowed to continue and become problematic. Data, in general, is often an overlooked, but critical area of any marketing dashboard strategy. Likewise, thinking about how questions might be misinterpreted in geographies, social groups, and industries outside of your own can allow you to find ways of phrasing questions, or approaches to marketing problems, that are more effective.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely. We work with dentists in the UK, and many do not use Dr. as a salutation, but use Mr/Mrs/Ms. We were lucky to know this in advance of moving into the UK territory so that potential clients weren't culled from our dbase in error.

Amit Varshneya said...

You're not referring to our database here, are you? ;) We faced exactly the same issue.

So exactly like you mentioned, we've now renamed "Title" to "Job Title" and added a field called "Salutation". Did some cleansing to get the "Mr" and "Mrs" over to salutation and then finally internal training so that the correct fields are used in forms going forward.

Mark H said...


If you're really interested in the challenges and nuances of international data collection via forms, check out Graham Rhind's ebook 'Better data quality from your web form':  

It's an informative read.

Steven Woods said...

Mark H,
thanks for the link to the PDF on international data - you're right, that's a great resource. Free to download also, which is a nice touch.

Graham Rhind said...

Glad you enjoyed my e-book, Steven and Mark.

Using "title" as a field label is one of the most common errors on web forms made for international audiences, and even within countries we find that it causes confusion - unambiguous field titles, such as "Job title" are the way to ensure better data quality.

Graham Rhind