When you work with enough data sets across clients, you get a clear sense that data integrity and health isn’t always a focus or top priority. But when you’re faced with the facts about just how bad our data is, and the impact is has on our sales & marketing programs, it’s a wonder why data health and cleansing isn’t among the most important focus areas of B2B organizations.

If you believe the findings of NetProspex‘s B2B Marketing Data Benchmark Report out today, we’re killing our campaign effectiveness rates without even knowing it. Email deliverability, incomplete fields, phone connectability and more are reducing the impact and reach of our campaigns, and materially decreasing the productivity of our sales teams.

Yes, it takes focus and resources to proactively address this and then keep those records clean over time. But if you do the before-and-after math on campaign performance, it’s typically a slam-dunk investment.

I asked Maribeth Ross, VP of Marketing for Netprospex, why this is such a big problem for B2B companies, and how they make it a bigger priority.

Why do so many companies ignore data hygiene as part of their marketing operations? Is it because they don’t understand or can’t quantify the impact of the problem on their campaigns?
I think that is partly the case, however when we spoke firsthand with folks, we learned some interesting things. First, they told us that they aren’t sure exactly WHAT to do. There is no one school of thought out there for managing your marketing database and, frankly, people are going with their instincts.

Secondly, this stuff is hard. People told us that they don’t have the tools they need to manage all aspects of data quality. Sure, many of them can manage duplicates -which is why we see good scores in that area- but they aren’t sure where to turn for managing the harder stuff.

Why is it that smaller companies tend to have higher health scores than enterprise organizations? Is it because their lists are newer and therefore less prone to aging and decay, or is something else going on?
It is a combination of things. When we looked at the data and subsequently spoke with people, our biggest takeaway was that their databases are smaller. Smaller is easier to manage and that layered on top of newness of data were the major factors.

How often does this work need to be done to maintain campaign effectiveness?
As we discussed earlier, there is no one school of thought here. However, our recommendation is that companies have ongoing activity. First, assessing the state of your database quarterly is a wise first step. There are vendors that do this.

NetProspex provides this as a free service, called Data HealthScan, to lower the barrier for folks wanting to manage their data. Secondly, have controls for data coming in – whether its high standards for purchased data or an enhancement product for appending registration forms, this goes a long way in controlling the influx of poor data.

In addition, be swift about getting out the bad. Remove hard bounces immediately and have ways to flag erroneous data so that it can be addressed and doesn’t continue to be used.

Many companies worry about not having the resources to property execute the right database hygiene tactics. How would you respond to that?
You speak the truth. But, we are seeing an explosion of marketing operations roles being added in marketing departments. This shows that companies are realizing that managing the systems and their data can no longer be ignored and they need a dedicated resource for it.

Simple back-of-the-napkin calculations about the financial impact of not managing your data makes it easy to see the ROI of filling this role. The costs of storing bad records in your MAP, plus the costs of missed opportunities, plus the cost of lost time of salespeople… it adds up to for more than the cost of a marketing operations head to manage the problem from the beginning.

To get a free copy of the B2B Marketing Data Benchmark Report, click here.

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