The 5% Data Solution

One field at a time. One day at a time.

That’s how the quality of your database erodes.  It doesn’t go from perfection to garbage overnight, but you can be sure that with every passing day your data quality is degrading, if you’re not doing something to fix it.

Updating information in a database is the marketing equivalent of upgrading your drains.  It’s a boring, expensive job that no one wants to do.  Spending money on lead generation, nurturing, customer events and advertising creates programs that you can directly tie to more revenue and justify your very existance.  But upgrading a database?  Nope. No one wants to spend their budget on that.

But it IS necessary. Your data quality is CRITICAL to deliver ROI (even though it might not be instantly evident). So, how can you make it less painful?

I’d like to propose the 5% Database Maintenance Program.  Conceptually it’s about as simple as it gets.  Tack 5% onto the budget for every single marketing program that is driven off your company database and at the end of the program invest that money into improving the data in the records where problems were found.

If it’s something that you haven’t been doing already,  in the beginning, that 5% will not be enough to fix all the bad records and flawed fields you find.  You’ll need to prioritize your data improvements.  Here are some examples of the types of information you might choose to fix first:

  • Verify that companies are still in business
  • Correct company phone/fax fields
  • Fix email addresses (although I suggest that an email that suddenly starts to bounce back is probably a bigger issue than a bad email address)
  • Verify contact employment
  • Fix address information
  • Update/replace/verify employee names and titles
  • Contact phone numbers – direct lines and extensions
  • Key qualification information – system types/current product sources/fiscal dates/planning cycles

Early on, when there isn’t enough money to complete all the fixes, you’ll probably focus on replacing lost contacts and confirming whether companies are still in business, but if you choose the right partner to do the work with/for you, you can communicate your priorities and over time, bring your data to the standards required to deliver good campaigns.

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