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When was the last time you did a manual quality check for your marketing data? If you’re like most organizations, at best, it was probably months ago, or, at worst, you’ve never manually reviewed your data. I hope you are sitting down because what I’m about to say might make you light headed. On top of everything else you already have on your to-do list, a routine  manual marketing data check is an absolute must. In this article we’ll shake out the common errors marketing data can accumulate over time and stir up a few effective ways to spot check for them.

Better Data Quality Is Worth The Effort

Before you stop reading in fear, let me tell you what you’ll gain by doing regular spot checks. There are few things in marketing that can make an almost immediate and huge impact on direct marketing success. Cleaning your database is one of them. There are hidden treasures in your database lost behind bad email addresses, faulty phone numbers and misunderstood interests.  You’ll gain:

  • Loyalty from your sales team – Good quality data takes away the excuses to ignore leads. When sales people can efficiently follow up, they not only fall in love with the data, they love marketing just that much more!
  • Better email open rates – Aren’t you tired of looking at low campaign open rates? It’s very frustrating for your good content to go unread. Clean databases ensure there are real, interested people on the other side of your efforts.
  • Bigger conversion rates – Because you are targeting more effectively you’ll see immediate improvements in open to click through rate and lead to opportunity conversions. According to a March 2013 Aberdeen report, those who have good data quality spend 33% less time looking for data. That’s 33% more time spent ACTING on data.
  • Less cost/lead – Best of all, you won’t be wasting money communicating with people who don’t exist or are not interested in your offering. With more accurate data you can see what’s really working across the business and make better investment choices.

More sales satisfaction plus better conversion rates and a dash of lower costs equals one enticing marketing cocktail. Now, let’s go earn that tasty treat.

 Three Manual Steps Worth Taking

Automation and quality tools have dramatically improved database integrity, but they can’t apply human intuition. These three manual processes are worth following to optimize your data quality even when good automation processes are in place.

  1. Before uploading a list into your database give it a manual once over. Look for the following:
  • Are the columns labeled correctly? You’ll be surprised how often data ends up in the wrong field because no one noticed incorrect labels.
  • Find someone you know on the list. Does their data match what you know to be true? Or did rows become transposed by mistake?
  • What fake names can you spot right off the top of your head?
  • Select a random handful of records and look up the person in LinkedIn or Hoovers. Does the data match?
  1. Check your new leads queue once a week. Look for leads that sales have not converted. Can you tell by looking at them that the data is poor quality? Are you seeing the same name appear eight times in a row? How many people with titles you don’t target are you seeing?
  1. At least four times a year do a total database assessment. Use the same techniques as in step one ‒ only this time, look across your entire database. You’ll be shocked to learn how much your database has degraded over time.

Common Pitfalls & How to Eliminate Them

Delete Phobia – Say it with me, its OK to delete data. No one likes to take names out of the database, but if that contact hasn’t responded to a single piece of content in the last 2 years, or the phone number is disconnected, you may want to take a deep breath and let go! Take out those Mickey Mouse and Joe Smith at ABC company records. I promise, they aren’t real people with real interest or they would have given you a real name and address. Whatever criteria you build, just do it. Your response rates will go up and your energy can be focused on the people with true interest.

Turning a Blind Eye to Blanks – It’s great that someone visited the website and downloaded a few case studies. But what does the sales rep in the territory know about them? Do you know their physical location? Can you identify their industry? How large is their company? We create fields in our database for a reason – because they help us segment and align messages to buyer need. Don’t let them sit empty; use third party data augmentation services and some manual elbow grease to fill in the blanks.

Forgetting to Trust Your Common Sense – Do you think Jon Smith from ABC Company in Denver is the same person as Johnny Smith from ABC Company in Colorado? I bet they are even if they have slightly different email addresses. You have common sense, it’s OK to rely on it. Go ahead, merge the records!

Not learning from unsubscribes – Don’t force unsubscribes by giving contacts only one choice – get our email on our terms or don’t get any at all. Give them choices, and honor their requests. And when they do decide to leave, ask them why. A good percent of people are willing to click a one question survey to tell you why they are leaving.

Was the frequency of your communications too much?

Did we bore you?

Were we too impersonal?

Look for patterns that you can respond to with better content, more aligned frequency and just the right tone of voice.

Just like a good cocktail needs high quality ingredients, your high performance marketing starts with good quality data.  Through these steps, you can shake up your data and be on your way to delivering results. Cheers!

For more on the impact of data quality on marketing efforts, download Aberdeen’s free report, Marketing & Sales Performance: The Roadmap to Revenue and Its Tollgates.

Samantha-StoneI’m a fast growth, B2B marketing junkie, mother of four high energy boys and wannabe gourmet chef. Throughout my career I have launched go-to-market initiatives and lead marketing strategies for award-winning, high growth technology companies including Netezza, SAP, Ascential Software and Powersoft. In 2012 I founded The Marketing Advisory Network to help enterprises unleash the possible within their organizations. You can read more about my marketing philosophy and get practical advice by visiting www.unleashpossibleblog.com or following me on twitter @samanthastone .

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