The Big Data Issue is BAD DATA

Will the fascination marketers have with buzz words never end? (Well, no actually it won’t)  and now it seems that the talk of the town is Big Data.

For the minuscule percentage of marketers with pristine data and the wherewithal to afford the talent and tools to create added value for their organizations through the manipulation of enormous data-sets- big data is a genuine issue. And, when something becomes a genuine issue for the marquis marketers, everybody hears about it. Leading edge issues are the subject of white papers, conferences and blue ribbon reports, not to mention the marketing of the software to deal with those issues, but they are not what everyday small or medium sized companies should be looking at right now.

Right now, the big data problem is bad data, it’s unbiquitous and tedious little cousin. But make no mistake, bad data is hurting you.

Bad data is limiting your lead generation programs

  • You’re wasting time and money to market to contact who are not there
  • Your response metrics are useless when you can’t tell the difference between not interested and not there- so how will you every improve?
  • Improved targeting and audience segmentation programs are impossible to build with garbage data

Bad data is killing your sales team

  • You’re wasting money on contact attempts to companies and contacts who are not there
  • Your sales team are wasting their time and your money trying to make contact with contacts who will not be involved in a buying process
  • You’re getting far fewer leads to your sales team than you could be

Bad Data is hurting your customer relationships

  • You’re sending communications to contacts who are no longer there. not only does it just look bad, you’re missing out on up-sell, resell and renewal opportunities.
  • Your A/R is stalled when the contact info is out of date
  • Your apparent lack of interest in your customers is creating a hole your competitors will drive a truck through one day

Why is this happening?

Most companies are struggling with data problems because they are holding too many inactive records in their active databases.  A report from SiriusDecisions identifies that every 12-18 months the volume of customer and prospect data is doubling.  List building is like lead generation- first everyone wants more and bigger, until they realize that small and accurate is the only way to go.

If you’re like a third of businesses, you’re struggling with bad data, but not doing anything about it. Roughly another third is relying on their sales teams to update the databases, which is probably worse than admitting to doing anything at all. Sales reps were not hired and have not been trained for their superb attention to detail, patience and perfectionism. You think you’re staying up to date, but in reality your data is degrading and you’re in denial.  Besides, with 3 sales people and 20,000 contacts in your database, how can you possibly think that “sales updating my database” is going to have any impact?

Here’s what you need to do: Use it or Lose it

Bite the bullet now and concede that your database needs some help- or maybe a lot of help.  Consider refreshing your database using an append service to clean up some of the empty fields in your records- although it won’t do much to help you with a lot of your contact information that looks ok but is actually wrong.

You need to use the data. Your first priority is to identify and isolate the good stuff. Email campaigns are where most companies will start because they’re fast and cheap. So start there and flag both your confirmed deliveries and your hard bounces. Start to migrate your data to a mirrored base, only moving what you know is good and when you’re qualifying data bases on a parameter like confirmed email delivery- take the opportunity to immediately ensure you’re moving a completed record with name, phone, address, company, title- the information you need.  If, like many companies your marketing and sales teams are sharing the same database, allow your sales people to flag records that they personally confirm to be good.

Take the data that you know is bad and either start a program to update it and reintegrate into your new active base or lose it.  Hold your unconfirmed data in its own isolated base, ready to update and migrate or trash when you know more about it. It will take time, effort and some money to work through your base, so put data hygeine steps into your sales and marketing processes so you don’t just end up in the same place 2 years from now.

Good data, not more data is your only qualification.

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