Any B2B marketer who has initiated an email or direct mail campaign lately knows that business marketing data degrades quickly. Bounce rates are hitting the ceiling. Direct mail return rates are shockingly wasteful. Data master Dun & Bradstreet says the current level of data quality costs U.S. business $600 billion per year in printing, mailing costs and staff overhead alone.
Blame this instability on the volatility of today’s businesses. D&B says:
- A new business opens every minute.
- A business closes every three minutes
- A CEO changes every minute.
- A company name change occurs every two minutes.
Overall business data is said to breakdown at a rate of 3% to 6% a month. That’s one-third to three-quarters of obsolete data per year. Bad data is an enormous liability that can lead to:
Annoyed prospects or customers
|An unprofessional image
Correcting data fields and standardizing formats and data elements - data hygiene - is some of the least interesting and most tedious task in B2B marketing. It takes an ongoing commitment of time and resources. Holding on to dirty data can clog up your marketing efforts and your opportunities.
Marketers dependence on CRM systems like Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics has highlighted the need for data scrubs and input standards even further. Automating these systems to assist busy sales representatives or customer service reps can help improve data entry practices.
Here are some steps to keep your B2B data clean and accurate:
Enter clean data.
- Create a data entry protocol that all those providing that function enter data the same way.
- Use the USPS standards for entering addresses. Ensure that abbreviations are consistent.
- Automate entry processes with field dropdowns or prompts where possible.
- Create pre-defined lists that fit your product, service, or target type
Regularly update the manual process of data entry.
- Use a data cleansing service on your house list once or twice a year.
- Delete all duplications; watch for prospects who uses a business email and a personal email.
- Invite your customers to help you maintain their information correctly.
- Train staff on data entry rules, repeat quarterly or half-yearly as necessary.
- Train customer-facing staff to request information updates at each meeting.
- Analyze and confirm your data errors with test mailings
- When using first-class mail, request the address correction service provided by the USPS. Research, then correct or remove inaccuracies.
- When using email, pay attention to hard email bounces. Research, then correct or remove inaccuracies.
Direct response demand generation is a key component of many B2B marketing campaigns. Be sure to keep these lists accurate and clean. With a little elbow grease and focus, your lists will generate leads and sales.