Data Quality Blog: The Situation
A prospect recently asked us to review his sales and lead generation programs because lead flow had dropped significantly. This concerned him because he had just finished a significant new product launch with a well-known interactive marketing agency. We agreed to sniff around.
Every instinct in my body wanted to find a way to bad mouth the agency’s work. But the creative, positioning and execution were brilliant.
We dug deeper and asked to look at the company’s new CRM – the foundation of the entire product launch and the basis for all of its prospecting efforts. It fueled the company’s direct mail, e-mail newsletters, catalog mailings and sales outreach.
Data Quality Blog: The Problem
We quickly spotted the problem—data quality. The client had spared no expense building world-class creative but left the task of data hygiene to marketing interns who would rather mop the floor than scrub data.
In the postmortem, we learned the interns received various Excel files containing old data, questionable lists, incomplete information and exports from a variety of personal contact management applications.
Then, with bubble gum and bailing wire, the master list was normalized, checked for data-format requirements and imported without further quality checks into a new CRM system.
In hindsight, the client was incredibly candid. No one wanted to “own” the data hygiene; it wasn’t sexy and it cost a lot of money to do right.
Data Quality Blog: The Solution
Here are several tips to protect yourself from a data quality disaster like this one.
Data quality is not a one-time event.
Data maintenance is an ongoing set of activities. For example, after an e-mail blast, a single individual should be responsible for removing or updating un-deliverables. Salespeople should also be responsible for keeping data clean. They own the accounts and it’s in their best interest to champion the data.
In an ideal world, manual work would be enough to keep your data clean, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Manual updates often result in errors, inconsistencies, and duplicate records.
A better alternative is to utilize a database resource that performs regular cleaning, de-duping and appending of data. Although this can be accomplished by utilizing internal resources, working with an outside vendor is often the most efficient approach.
By consistently cleaning and updating your data you will improve the overall return on your marketing and sales campaigns.
For a deeper look at data maintenance, check out the following resources:
- The B2B Database Maintenance Glossary
- How to Get More Value from Your B2B Data Purchase
- A Guide to B2B Data Sources
Duplicates cost you.
A single company record should be tied to a set of addresses and contacts. Failure to tie together information about an account to a single company record dilutes the effectiveness of the data –, especially with an account-based marketing approach. Here’s why:
- Duplicate records take up twice as much space and cause inaccuracies in reporting. For example, it may look like you have 45 companies in your CRM, but really, after de-duping, you only have 30.
- It can cause frustration between sales reps. Think about it, if two people are following up with the same company, both parties will end up having wasted their time and feeling frustrated.
- You can lose clients and prospects. If multiple reps follow up with the same company, or your marketing team sends the same person 25 emails, your prospects and clients will quickly get fed up.
- If duplicated data requires updating, you’ll have to update it in both places or else there will be further confusion and inaccuracies down the line.
The human component.
While automation of data clean-up is useful, humans are essential to the process. Computers miss things that are usually obvious to a human, such as a division’s relationship to a corporate entity.
For this reason, it’s important that you set up both automated and manual checks to ensure your data is up to scratch.
Protect your data from good intentions.
With today’s CRM systems, it is far too easy for individuals without an understanding of data hygiene practices to import data from external sources. Import rules should be stringent and followed by everyone. Consider implementing a CRM and data policy to distribute to all personnel who have access. Or, put certain restrictions on employees who shouldn’t have editing access.
Remember, after automated checks are complete, a manual review process should always be applied to external data before it is imported.
The Data Quality Blog: The Bottom Line
There’s no way around it, bad data impacts every aspect of a business—from lead generation to marketing, to customer relationships, to cold calling, to revenue. Think about it, if you can’t reach your prospects or customers, your message, offer, and product no longer matter.
Consider the following statistics (source):
- 94% of businesses suspect that their customer and prospect data is inaccurate.
- 40% of business objectives fail due to inaccurate data.
- Up to 25% of B2B database contacts contain critical errors.
- 62% of organizations rely on marketing data that’s up to 40% inaccurate.
- Bad data costs U.S. businesses more than $611 billion each year.
It’s clear data is a critical business resource. Yet, many companies continue to struggle with database maintenance. If you’re not sure where to start, contact ZoomInfo today. We can help with all of your database maintenance needs.