Some general-purpose data cleaning utilities, as well as products specifically for mailing lists, are available from third-party vendors. For example, WinPure’s Clean & Match 2006 is a $1,000 utility designed for ease of use by the non-specialist. For more sophisticated users, the company offers ListCleaner, a $250 package of utilities specially designed for removing duplicates and standardizing mailing lists and similar data sets.
These types of products can provide some very useful services, such as the following:
- Spot and regularize common abbreviations (such as Av. and Ave. for Avenue)
- Remove nonprinting characters
- Handle common spelling errors
- Reduce data to standard formats (for example, putting all phone numbers in the form 123-456-7890)
- Perform more elaborate filtering and checking operations
- Generate reports to show trends in the data