As studies show, dirty data takes a toll in undermining marketing effectiveness and profitability, yet many organizations fail to implement data-quality programs. A 2013 Marketing Data Benchmark Report by NetProspex supports these findings, showing that more than 60 percent of companies surveyed had an overall data health score of “unreliable.”
The data for these companies was found to be only 50 to 65 percent complete. Missing contact data means marketers cannot reach prospects and customers through those channels. This, said NetProspex, means their databases are likely exposing their organizations to unnecessary risk and having a negative impact on lead generation.
The average overall health rating for email deliverability was 2.8 on a scale of 5, putting these organizations in the “questionable” and “unreliable” range. The average email deliverability rate was 72 percent, which means 72 out of 100 emails were being delivered. Overall survey results showed that email deliverability rates were likely introducing unnecessary risk into email marketing programs.
Undeliverable emails impact a marketing program in three critical ways:
Many B2B marketers have serious data quality issues to deal with in regard to email and phone contact information, the study found. The average overall data health rating for all companies was 2.7 on a scale of 5, a rating of “unreliable.” The incompleteness of the data for these companies impedes segmentation and multiple methods of contact, said NetProspex.
Of the total sample, 34 percent had data that was “questionable,” meaning their marketing efforts may be plagued by redundant marketing efforts and lost responses. More than one-half had an overall score that put them in the “risky” or “unreliable” category.
Data decays at an average rate of 2 percent per month, which means you can expect 25 to 30 percent of your organization’s contact data to go bad each year under normal circumstances. However, as John Gaffney noted, the U.S. job market is in a greater state of flux than ever before, with more than four million people per month changing jobs in 2012, a jump of more than one million people per month over the previous year. Thus, the task of maintaining data quality has become even more challenging as the number of workers switching jobs continues to escalate.
“The ability to manage relationships is impaired by bad data,” said Maribeth Ross, vice president of marketing at NetProspex. Ross believes that organizations have been focused on putting in place marketing automation and have disregarded data hygiene. “Marketing technology has grown leaps and bounds over the last ten to fifteen years, and we’ve been so busy getting up and running that the management of the actual data has fallen to second priority,” she said.
Besides job turnover, human error is among the main factors that affect data quality (for contact, demographic and firmographic data). NetProspex cites the 1/10/100 formula from Sirius Decisions and other analysts that postulate that it costs $1 to verify a record as it is entered, $10 to correct it later and $100 if nothing is done.
With the potential loss of revenues and high cost of correcting bad data, it is imperative that data hygiene should be a proactive company initiative rather than an afterthought or one-time activity, said NetProspex. Regular data hygiene will improve email data quality and marketing campaign performance.
Eloqua, for example, found that companies that practice consistent data hygiene achieve seven times more inquiries and four times more leads. Similarly, NetProspex president Michael Bird relates that data cleansing will be the main factor to make or break a campaign’s or event’s success.
With so many companies failing to focus on data quality, a dedicated data hygiene practice can propel a company to the top tier and provide a competitive advantage. Experian QAS and ZoomInfo are among the many authorities that recommend data hygiene services to obtain these advantages, for verifying email addresses, updating incorrect addresses and obtaining missing data. To avoid having to correct bad information later, experts also recommend verifying email addresses in real time at the point of entry.
As Experian QAS points out, business data is fluid, and “important contact data must be run through address management programs to eliminate information that's outdated, or companies will be using expired content.”
Analysts also recommend data appending to help keep contact databases clean, current and complete. By integrating contact databases across multiple data sources, says Marketing Advisory Network founder Samantha Stone, marketers can append and converge known information to round out a meaningful picture of their potential buyer.”
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