Data decay is killing your lead generation response rates

It always starts innocently enough. The company is just getting off the ground. Perhaps a long gone VP of Sales uploaded his entire contact list into the CRM to get things going. A sales person is hired and she then uploads her contacts to the CRM. A marketing person buys a list and uploads it to the CRM. The company completes a webinar and then uploads the names to the CRM. And so it goes…

So what’s the problem?

At first there is no problem. The company is able to launch direct marketing campaigns (mail, email & phone) that produce healthy response rates (assuming a strong value proposition and a well chosen target market segment).

Six months or a year in, things begin to go sour. The company now has perhaps 15,000 names in the CRM. The problem is response rates have dropped off dramatically.

At first this makes no sense to anyone because nothing else has changed. The dynamics of the market space look no different to the company, or anyone else for that matter.

The problem is not external, it’s internal. The problem is data decay. Due to a host of demographic, psychographic and macro economic factors, list names obsolete – quickly.

Target market list names are like fruit. They spoil with time. The day you buy a brand spanking new target market list of names, it’s 20% obsolete. Phone numbers, addresses, email addressed, job titles and interest windows change all the time.

Six months out your list has spoiled to the tune of up to 50% depending on segment. Don’t waste your time or your company’s money marketing to a list that’s a year old.

The only solution to this costly and mostly invisible problem is data cleaning. Someone, yes a real human, must call, email and physical mail every name on a regular basis. Anything that does not validate and or can’t be updated is tossed.

The cost and time associated with cleaning is substantial. That’s one of the reasons it’s not done. Although, the single biggest reason it’s not done is because people don’t realize the cost of a dirty database.

One solution is to make database cleaning part of the Inside Sales mission. The synergy is strong. Inside Sales sort of does the work anyway, assuming a lead incubation or nurturing program is in place. For example, mail a postcard, broadcast an email and call everyone in your database once every other month.

If you decide that you don’t want to be in the data maintenance business you may be able to buy maintained current names. The easiest and cheapest is jigsaw.com.

Jigsaw is brilliant because they have figured out how to provide maintained current names at a very affordable cost.

If you’re focusing on Fortune 500 companies and can afford the $17,000 annually, you can step up to the top of the line, ITS Profiles. ITS is a service and all they do is update and maintain the most comprehensive database of all Fortune 500 companies, I have ever seen. The detail and accuracy will blow you away. They have a group of 20 analysts that review and validate every record, a whopping six times per year.

The ITS Profiles data is so good it will make sales guys drool and marketing guys will have record response rates and campaign ROIs.

You can either do it yourself or you can pay someone else to do it, but you are going to have to find a way to get and keep your data clean, or you’ll pay a very steep price in response rate, campaign ROIs and lost time.

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