Database Health and Market Visibility: Why Bigger Data Isn’t Always Better Data
Big data is all the rage, but bigger doesn’t always equal better. Not when it comes to marketing databases.
Data is the foundation of everything we as marketers do. Any kind of outreach to prospects or customers will utilize the information contained in that database, and the success of every program is reliant on the quality of the data inside.
Unfortunately, missing or incomplete data is the norm.“Database quality has an unprecedented impact on the success of our marketing campaigns,” says Michael Bird, CEO of NetProspex. “Simply put—data drives revenue for your company. While enhanced analytics are increasingly seen as a key tool to identifying new sales opportunities and improving marketing efficiency, so much of your success as marketers still boils down to how well your contact and company data is maintained, and how well it aligns with your go-to-market activities.”
What is the condition of your database? It depends upon your answers to these questions:
- What is the profile of your ideal customer, and how well do the organizations and contacts within your database align with this profile?
- Does your database include all key decision makers in each organization? Can you be sure they cover all the levels/functions that are involved—directly or as influencers—in the buying process?
- What is your level of market coverage—have you identified 100% of the organizations in your target audience universe?
- How clean, consistent, complete and accurate is the information? Do you have verified opt-in email addresses for every contact?
- Have you set up a five-year plan to use as a database roadmap?
If you think your database could use some work to reach the level of accuracy and completeness you need to be successful, you are not alone. In Dunn and Bradstreet’s 2016 study of 695 million records in B2B companies’ databases, inaccuracies were found in over 70% of the records. In addition to inaccuracies, the following graph shows the lack of completeness of the records.
If you want to improve the health and quality of your database, where do you start? It all begins with an audit and cleanse of your current data. Here is a list of 8 actions you can take to begin that process:
- Combine records and standardize field formats
- Preliminary cleaning on critical fields (removal of bad data, clean-up of existing data etc.)
- First/Last Name
- Company Name
- Email Address
- Create scoring structure and scenarios for deduplication
- Final deduplication of records
- Conduct a gap analysis of critical data fields
- Send list to 3rd party data source for cleansing and appending
- Populate critical fields
After cleansing, the next step is to fill in net new accounts and contacts that fall within your target universe. Building a targeted database is not just buying a list. Building a targeted database is:
- Identifying the entire universe of possible target accounts that are not currently in your database
- Identifying decision maker titles within those net new accounts
- You have enough data for each contact in order to identify which persona they match
- Make sure the new contacts are reachable through your marketing programs (you have their email addresses and phone numbers)
To make this initiative even more challenging, Dunn and Bradstreet estimates between 1-3 percent of your data will be obsolete every month! Successful companies invest in continual database auditing and cleansing, making sure new records are complete and standardized and old records are refreshed as needed.
According to SiriusDecisions, companies that regularly maintain their database realize 66 percent higher conversions to revenue compared to those that do not.
Cleaning up a database isn’t a one-time occurrence. It has to be an ongoing effort. It’s the only way to ensure good data, and good data is the best way to maximize marketing and business performance. Routine telephone outreach and data maintenance has a positive impact on your marketing program outcomes.
Finally, data governance is established. This includes the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity and security of data used by your company. A sound data governance program includes a governing body or council, a defined set of procedures and a plan to execute those procedures, such as:
- Establishing data flows and lifecycle
- Determining how new data will be collected and managed
- Identifying how marketing data will be aligned with and utilized by other platforms, such as CRM, sales, ERP and e-commerce systems
- Developing a process for data handoff from marketing to sales
Call it what you want: “modern marketing,” “data-driven marketing,” but in the world of B2B marketing today, data is the game changer. Dunn & Bradstreet 2016 B2B Marketing Data Report
It’s worth the effort! Accurate, clean and complete data is the key to effective sales, marketing and customer management strategies.
Marketers know that a complete and accurate database is a prerequisite to any successful marketing activity—so why does the marketing database typically get so little attention, with sporadic and disconnected efforts to keep it updated?