Contact Data Hygiene and the Future of Branding

Branding. If you’ve worked in business for any period of time, you likely hear this term thrown around a few times a day. But branding is a fluid, subjective concept that we don’t always take the time to quantify—a must in today’s competitive business landscape.

Today, we explain the importance of a data-driven branding strategy and why contact data hygiene is the key to branding success. Let’s get into it.

What is a data-driven branding strategy?

A data-driven brand strategy is exactly what it sounds like—a strategy which requires the use of data to inform any and all decisions made about branding. Although it’s a simple concept to understand, data-driven branding isn’t always easy to put into practice.

Technological advances and the spread of information via the internet have given companies unprecedented access to data. Yet, most companies still aren’t entirely sure how to access, analyze, or apply this data to their work. In fact, 87% of marketers consider data to be their company’s most underutilized asset (source).

What is dirty data and how does it impact your brand strategy?

To complicate matters further, most companies don’t even realize they’re relying on outdated, incomplete, or inaccurate data to do their work. The problem with data, particularly customer and contact data, is that it decays rapidly. Consider these statistics (source):

  • 40% of email users change their email address at least once every two years
  • 15% of email users change their email address one or more times a year
  • 20% of all postal addresses change every year
  • 18% of all telephone numbers change every year
  • 21% of all CEOs change every year
  • 25-33% of email addresses become outdated every year
  • 60% of people change job titles within their organizations each year

Dirty data impacts every aspect of a business from sales to customer service—but dirty data is especially detrimental to branding initiatives. Here’s why:

1.     Dirty data impacts your ability to understand who your best customers and prospects are.

Branding success lives and dies in a company’s ability to understand their target audience. Here’s why: The best way to know who your best buyers are and, therefore, who to target with your branding efforts is to analyze your existing customer and contact database.

If your database is completely clean and accurate, you can compile details regarding your best customers and identify commonalities between them. Thus, creating buyer personas.

But, if you’re working with outdated, incorrect, or incomplete data, you’ll never get an accurate view of your customer base. Instead, your view will be fragmented and your branding efforts will miss their mark because, well, you’re targeting the wrong people.

2.     Dirty data impacts your ability to understand how to engage with your target audience.

Not only does bad data impact your ability to understand who your best buyers are, but it also impacts your ability to reach and engage with them effectively. Take lead source as an example. If you’re working with accurate data, pinpointing lead source is relatively simple. From there you’re able to dig even deeper to figure out which of your buyer personas use specific channels and respond to specific messaging.

But, if your contact database is contaminated and lead source isn’t tracked correctly, you’re basically starting at square one—with data-driven insights that are no more accurate than best guesses and gut feelings.

3.     Dirty data impacts your ability to understand how the general public perceives your brand.

The main premise of a branding strategy is to gauge and influence the public’s perception of your company and products. But, without accurate data it is very difficult to form any sort of conclusions about the general perception of your brand.

Let’s look at an example: After conducting the appropriate research, you identify a list of contacts you’d like to target through an upcoming email marketing campaign. This list is composed of people who work in HR at companies that have more than 5,000 employees.

After the first email send, you’re already seeing dismal results. Without first considering the accuracy of your data, it’s easy to assume your messaging was bad or ineffective. But, if you don’t prioritize data hygiene, the error could have happened at any stage of the process. Maybe your best buyers don’t actually work at companies of that size. Or maybe, all of your email addresses are out of date.

When you work with dirty data, the variables are endless, making all tests sloppy and inaccurate.

What is contact data hygiene and how can I make it a priority?

Now, as catastrophic as dirty data can be, technological advances have made data hygiene a simpler process.  If you’re new to data hygiene, here’s what we recommend:

Audit data collection methods:

Consider the methods you use to collect customer and contact data. Most companies use some combination of website forms, mass uploads, or manual data entry and even though your contact database will never be perfect, there are steps you can take to streamline and clean up data collection methods.

For example, you can eliminate any unnecessary or redundant form fields, relabel anything that might cause confusion, and use form validation to require certain data points. Cut back on any manual data entry and develop controls to normalize how certain fields are entered.

Clean up existing data:

Work with a B2B data provider to fill in holes, update inaccuracies, and normalize inconsistencies in your current contact and customer database. This service, although it can be done manually, is best left up to the professionals. Especially for anyone new to hygiene.

Invest in the tools you need to regularly cleanse and update your database:

We’ve already illustrated the perils of data decay. Unfortunately, data decay renders most data maintenance useless unless you regularly append your business database. 

Now, we know data hygiene isn’t what gets most people out of bed in the morning. In fact, it’s often a task most professionals dread. Fortunately, the latest and greatest data technology makes it simple to schedule and automate data maintenance on a schedule that works for you—with no more effort than the click of a button.

To learn more about testing data providers and choosing the right database solution, check out the following article: How to Get More Value From Your B2B Data Purchase.

Key Takeaways

And there you have it, a quick guide to data hygiene and the impact it has on your branding initiatives. We cannot stress the importance of data hygiene enough. In our highly competitive business landscape, data is currency and those who can understand, reach, and influence their target audience will always come out on top. Don’t be left in the dust. Take care of your data today.

Contact ZoomInfo today to learn how our USA business database can further your sales and marketing initiatives.