Data is a B2B marketer’s lifeline. To be successful in reaching potential customers, elevating existing customer relationships, and cultivating new sales leads, marketers must ensure that their contact databases are clean, current, and complete.
Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy and viable contact database is easier said than done. As was shown in NetProspex’s The State of Marketing Data 2013 report issued earlier this year, even in today’s business landscape, where data mining technology is readily available to the B2B marketer, marketers struggle with issues surrounding phone connectabilty, email deliverability, and record incompleteness. In fact, more than 50 percent of companies work with unreliable or risky data. So what causeses marketers’ contact databases to remain lackluster and, more importantly, what are the strategies marketers can use to improve and ensure the constant health of their overall data quality?
We’ve turned to three industry experts, who offer marketers the following advice on what it takes to clean up and maintain a healthy contact database.
Beverly Chiarelli, Mimecast Senior Marketing Manager
“When building a marketing budget, ‘data cleansing’ often gets left behind because it is invisible when compared to events, email, direct mail, and advertising. Yet data cleansing will be the main factor to make or break a campaign’s or event’s success. A key component in the cleansing process is creating complete data that enables meaningful communications. As marketers up their game to provide appealing thought-leadership with the buyer’s needs and interests in mind, the effort will fall flat unless that content can go to specific audience segments that would welcome it rather than resorting to ‘buck-shot marketing.’”
Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing President
“The primary reason marketers struggle with database hygiene is that they simply don't pay attention to it. They focus the majority of their time on creating new lists, new leads, new offers, and creative materials while leaving their existing databases to remain stagnant and ignored. It is a huge hidden productivity drain for organizations. Their email delivery and response rates are suppressed. They're more susceptible to spam filters and black lists. Their sales reps are calling phone numbers that do not work or are calling contacts that no longer exist. That is valuable time spent on generating unproductive leads.”
Samantha Stone, Marketing Advisory Network Founder and Senior Analyst
“While there is no fairy dust we can sprinkle to make our database magically complete, there are many tactics we can use to make an imperfect data set an efficient marketing device. The three strategies I use most often to operate under imperfect database conditions are give to get, incent sales, and append data.
“First, give to get: Content marketing has taught marketers to draw in potential buyers through great content, but we often end up forgetting about the opportunity to give to get in an ongoing fashion. Give to get isn’t just about the first time a visitor accesses a marketer’s assets–it’s about getting to know each other and trading information about the buyer’s challenges and the marketer’s offerings.
“Second, incent sales: Sales people talk to a company’s database everyday to gather information that could be hugely valuable, but that data does marketing no good if it sits in the notes field of the database or worse, on someone’s desk-side notebook. Incent sales by making information capturing easy and rewarding to those who excel.
“Finally, append data: By integrating contact databases across multiple data sources, marketers can append and converge known information to round out a meaningful picture of their potential buyer.”
The first step on the road toward clean, healthy data is, of course, identifying one’s database issues. Marketers should strive to assess the current state of their databases across email deliverability, phone connectability, record duplication, and record completeness. The real challenge lies in maintaining that healthy data on a constant basis. By working to adopt best practices, companies will be better positioned to avoid such risks and impact, such as:
- Falling short of revenue goals by not reaching target buyers.
- Damage to brand and sender reputation from poor email deliverability or redundant sends.
- Financial impact from increased records storage costs and inefficiencies.
- Limited segmentation, low conversions, and incorrect lead routing from a lack of sufficient data and incomplete records.
It’s time for marketers to stop ignoring the plague of dirty data in their marketing automation systems and CRM databases. According to a recent report from Eloqua, by simply maintaining good hygiene practices on the data driving campaigns, marketers can realize seven times the number of inquiries and four times the number of leads. So what are you waiting for?