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How to Manage Your Marketing Database

June 27, 2020 | Justin Gray | No Comments |

If, today, you had to immediately engage each key stakeholder at your top 10 accounts in order to grow that account or lose it, could you? Your marketing database, which is arguably the biggest asset in your business, is consistently filling up with dirty contacts and you may not even know it. Studies show 57 percent of businesses find out about dirty data when it’s reported by customers or prospects. Outdated customer information negatively impacts the customer experience and can lengthen the sales cycle by eight to 14 percent on average. To fix this, you have to put a purposeful and strategic process in place.

The Reason to Invest in Your Marketing Database

We’re not breaking any ground by talking about the importance of clean databases.

Having dirty data leads to unnecessarily wasted resources –– on average 21 percent of a company’s marketing spending is lost chasing bad leads. On top of that, Kissmetrics has shown that businesses lose up to 20 percent of their revenue because of bad data. The vast majority of marketers are still missing the boat, and revenue is paying the price.

The hard work B2B companies  put into marketing strategies hinges on having up-to-date data, and yet only 22 percent of marketers have complete confidence their data is correct. The reality is a whopping 47 percent of businesses have lost a client or failed to sign a new contract due to incomplete or inaccurate data.

Dirty Data’s Huge, Sharp Teeth

If you’re sending tokens of appreciation and they’re ending up in the wrong hands (or worse, returning to sender), they’re wasted. If you’re billing a customer who’s moved on from their role, you’ll be in permanent scramble mode. This should be common knowledge, but companies don’t prioritize data cleanliness as an ongoing process. And it always comes back to bite them.

Cleaning up your data today starts by taking a high-level look at your information. How much of your target database do you actually have represented? Are all of your current customers in there? What about current prospects? If anyone is missing, you have to add them first before tackling the different dimensions of a robust data clean.

Four Steps to Fixing Marketing Database Issues

Step 1: The initial clean

This is where you determine if the key fields in your CRM that need to be populated are actually getting captured—revenue, employee size, standard demographics important to your business, etc. Then comes the hard part: figuring out how healthy the database is in relation to those fields.
Proper process in nomenclature is one of the most important processes to systematize. This means setting (and sticking to) the named values within each field. It’s all about proper process so one guy doesn’t go in and mess it up for everyone else—trust me, it happens.

You’ll find more details on how to resolve these conflicts here: “Steps to Cleaner Marketing Data

Step 2: Get your relationships in order

Ensure people are where they belong. You’re probably also aware of the process of de-duplication. Make a point specifically to examine your leads vs. your contacts, since leads often exist separately in most CRM databases. Are there leads that should actually be contacts because you have an established relationship with them? Having un-merged contacts existing in different locations is an enormous waste of resources for sales. Decide how each relationship is defined and proceed accordingly.

Step 3: Gather new insights

Knowledge of what your customers are talking about and what is going on in their worlds recently is business intelligence now being built into CRM directly. In the past, those items resided in different platforms and it was difficult to capitalize on intent. With increased relevance comes a premium on making sure the information is correct and in the right place.

Step 4: Set it (and DON’T forget it)!

After shoring up these aspects of your database, you could probably send a timely email to key accounts with confidence. But what about next week? A month from now? What about when an opportunity arises and you need to act fast to capture it next year? Keeping your data clean is a commitment you must follow through on.

The reason we haven’t solved the prevalence of dirty data is because companies don’t think about it in terms of a never-ending process. The next trade show, new partner, or update from a data provider will bring with it a whole new set of inputs that can easily get confused if you don’t have a process in place to standardize them.

Every element of how information enters your database must be thought out in order to keep up. Companies should be prioritizing systems that intercept all data, standardize it, and wash it clean before allowing it to pass through. All of your CRM and marketing automation software should be encased in a data layer that only lets the clean stuff in.

The Cost of Doing Nothing

Unfortunately, data management ranks low on the list of priorities, despite organizations’ concessions about its importance. Ultimately, how you choose to clean your marketing database depends on your mentality and your bandwidth. Do your marketers want to tinker with settings on a regular basis? Then work with one of the many vendors offering data solutions, keeping in mind you’ll be paying for it on a recurring basis. That said, you’ll also be paying for it in lost revenue if you don’t. It roughly costs one dollar to prevent a duplicate, ten dollars to correct a duplicate, and $100 to store a duplicate if left untreated.

The Bottom Line

Old cliche’; when’s the best time to plant a tree? 20 Years ago. When’s the second best? Today. 

With data, the bottom line is you have to start now. There is no way to brute force the solution yourself. Be up front about how much you’re willing to spend to determine who you’ll work with, then commit to working with someone—even if it’s your in house team. Most of the time, no decision is made—but now is the time to end the cycle of dirty data and make it a merry Christmas (card).

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