Data Dilemma: Companies Struggle with Incomplete, Duplicate Data

A new report shines a spotlight on organizations' barely functioning databases and emphasizes the need for companies to maintain good data hygiene.

Cars are equipped with windshield wipers because automakers understand that if you can't see where you're going, you're never going to get there. Much like drivers, marketers must occasionally clear away the murky data that hinders their journey toward success.

Because data drives revenue, many marketers have hopped on the analytical bandwagon, adopting the latest tools to enhance their efforts. However, when it comes down to establishing the essentials, how well one maintains the brand's contact and company data stands as the primary pillar for success. Published by NetProspex, "The State of Marketing Data" annual benchmark report emphasizes the importance of good data hygiene and its ability to drive revenue, improve consistency, and boost ROI. Of the more than 61 million databases analyzed, 84 percent are barely functional, highlighting the fact that the ability to segment audiences and deliver relevant messaging requires complete, well-maintained prospect and client records to perform the necessary tasks. Additional findings include:

  • Only 35 percent of the databases analyzed were classified as functional.
  • Sixty-four percent of the records analyzed didn't include a phone number.
  • Of the records analyzed, 88 percent were lacking industry, revenue, and employee fields

The study, which analyzes records supplied by a broad range of organizations from the full spectrum of industries within the B2B marketing space, outlines four best practices for companies looking to augment their company's data health and clear away the clutter:

1. Record Completeness: Though B2B marketers continue to usher prospects into the sales funnel via Web registration forms, many of these records remain incomplete as marketers often reduce the number of required fields in exchange for increased conversion rates. Of all the records analyzed, 88 percent were lacking basic firmographic data, such as industry, company revenue, and number of employees-elements critical for successful segmentation and targeting. Partial information will ultimately lead to inefficiencies, making segmentation and automated marketing practically impossible.

2. Record Duplication: Poorly maintained databases typically contain duplicate contact records as the result of multiple data sources and disparate data platforms. Not only do duplicate records increase storage and maintenance costs, but they also create inefficiencies in the marketing process, as duplicate sends can damage brand reputation and customer relationships. However, 90 percent of the files analyzed featured less than 10 percent duplicates, demonstrating great progress in this area, which can largely be credited to the adoption of marketing automation platforms.

3. Email Deliverability: Because it's imperative to reach each target's inbox, marketers must work to clear their database of false or dormant email accounts in order to preserve brand perception and deliverability. Record accuracy tends to degrade over time, leaving outdated and incorrect email addresses to interfere with the success of outbound marketing campaigns. Thus, undeliverable emails can hinder the sender's reputation, ultimately causing their address to be flagged, and thereby shutting down their demand generation engine for an extended period of time.

4. Phone Connectivity: When looking to close the loop between marketing and sales, reaching buyers by phone can make all the difference. However, of the more than 61 million records analyzed, 64 percent didn't include a phone number. Conversion rates typically decline, as these incomplete leads then tend to fall out of the funnel. Though marketers believe they're promoting qualified leads to their sales departments, empty or invalid phone numbers require said teams to spend time and effort sourcing phone numbers, resulting in the breakdown between marketing and sales alignment.

Key takeaway: When one stops to consider how much data flows in and out of an organization on any given day, it's easy to understand how this information can become muddled along the way. But, according to the report, companies that regularly maintain their databases realize 66 percent higher conversions to revenue compared to those who don't. Such companies understand that databases are much like living organisms, as they must be fed and cleaned to remain accurate and productive. And, while today's diverse range of channels makes data cleansing even more difficult to manage, this influx of information makes good data hygiene that much more vital. Marketers must make an effort to reduce data hoarding by periodically cleaning out the old so they may usher in the new.