5 Steps to Cleaner Marketing Data

5 minute read

Upland Admin

Hey Modern Marketers, do you smell something?


Well take another whiff, because your database is almost certainly full of dirty, stinky data. Check out Oscar over there. He loves trash so much he lives in a garbage can. If he’s excited about the state of your database, it’s a pretty good sign that you shouldn’t be.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some numbers.

First, SiriusDecisions recently found that between 10% and 25% of contact records in B2B marketing databases contain “critical errors1.” Critical errors are exactly as bad as they sound. They’re errors such as not knowing which company a lead works for or having the wrong contact information.

Even more distressing, NetProspex reports that over 60% of companies have databases that are “unreliable2.” That means their database, on average, contains 20-30% duplicate records and only 50%-65% of their records are complete and accurate.

Whew! That’s some dirty data.

And this isn’t just a housekeeping issue. Bad data absolutely destroys your ability to segment and target your audience appropriately. Combine that with marketing automation, and it can cost you money, annoy your prospects, and make your brand look just plain sloppy.

Time to Get Scrubbing

A clean database can make all the difference when it comes to targeting your leads and making certain the right message is reaching the right prospects. Here are five things you can get started on today to clean up your data:

1. Examine Your Data for Completeness and Accuracy

First, you need to know exactly how bad your database is. Do an audit for key data points that are important to your organization. Figure out what percent of your records have all the data your organization needs to target them appropriately and what information is missing.

Your data may not only be incomplete, but also inaccurate. On average, information deteriorates at 25% to 35% per year. This isn’t surprising when you consider that 48 million people changed jobs in 2011 alone! Not only do you need to figure out how many of your leads and prospects are missing data, you also should evaluate your data for inaccuracies.

2. Standardize Fields

Every field you can standardize is a field that you will find it easier to target and segment based on. Some fields that you can standardize are pretty obvious, such as state and country fields. But don’t just go for the low hanging fruit. Think about standardizing other valuable data points, such as job title or annual revenue as well.

Take a look at the information that is most useful for your organization when evaluating leads. If you can standardize even a few of those fields, you’ll be making your life a lot easier when it comes to setting up a marketing automation campaign or when you need to contact just those prospects who live in Fiji and work in fire spinning.

3. De-Dupe Everything

Duplicate records creep into every database. Do leads enter your database by downloading resources? Do you ever upload lists of leads from conferences or shows? Do your salespeople add leads manually? These are all ways you can get duplicate records in your database.

Duplicates make your database a lot less powerful because you never know if you’re seeing all the information you have about that prospect when you look at their record. Even worse, you could be spamming them with conflicting messages from your marketing automation system. Invest in some de-duping software to block duplicate records from entering you database. Some tools will also help you identify duplicates in your current data and help you ensure each record is a unique contact.

4. Append Data

Okay, you’ve figured out what information you’re missing, you’ve standardized your fields, and you’ve removed your duplicates. Now you’re ready to start addressing your data completeness issues.

One way to get a few more data points filled in is data appending. Data appending tools take the records already in your database and flesh them out with additional data. This can help you get a more complete database by adding valuable information such as company size, industry, and location, that can help you get a better understanding of your prospects.

5. Use Progressive Profiling

Progressive profiling is a clever way to get more information from your leads, without asking them to fill out a giant form. The idea is that when contacts first fill out a form, you collect only a few data points, but then you use dynamic forms to gather different data points on subsequent visits.

Using dynamic forms lets you slowly fill out all your key data points about your prospects, without risking form abandonment by asking prospects to fill out 10 fields at once.

So there you have it. With some planning ahead, and a little bit of elbow grease, you can have your dirty database cleaned up and smelling like sunshine and roses in no time.

1. 2013 NetPropsex Marketing Data Benchmark Report
2. SiriusDecisions, The Impact of Bad Data on Demand Creation

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