Opinion: 7 Ways to Diagnose Your Sales and Marketing Data Decay

opinionThe following is a guest contributed post from William Wickey of LeadGenuis.

Like bananas, your customer data starts out green, begins to yellow, and before you know it it’s attracting flies.

Data from LeadGenius shows that the average B2B sales and marketing database decays at over 3% per month —across all industries. Without action, over a third of your business contacts can go out of date each year, including key company information, personal details, and most importantly, accurate contact information.

Some industries —Entertainment, Advertising, Food Service and Human Resources, just to name a few — are especially susceptible to high turnover. Natural contact database decay affects companies selling to small and large businesses alike. Half a million small businesses closed their doors last year, as even more rose to take their place.

How many of the old contacts are still sitting in your database? How many of the new?

Large companies such as Google, Amazon, and AFLAC, all see an average employee tenure of only one year.

How effective can your enterprise strategy be when you’re still email nurturing the Director of Sales who switched jobs 3 months ago?

Modern sales and marketing teams need accurate customer data for automation and efficiency.

When it comes to customer records, quality beats quantity every time. You depend on a CRM such as Salesforce to move prospects through your pipeline. You rely on a marketing automation system such a Hubspot, Marketo, or Pardot to effectively target and nurture contacts. Accurate, data-rich customer records keep marketing and sales teams on the same page. Without a lead enrichment program in place, your most value asset (your customer data) is just rotting in the bowl like a piece of old fruit.

Indicators of Inaccurate Contact Data

You don’t have to audit every single contact to get an overall impression of your B2B database’s health. The numbers you work with every day paint a picture.

1. Hard and Soft Bounces.

Constant Contact reports that the average email bounce rates range from 2-15% depending on industry. MailChimp’s estimates for email bounce rate by industry are a bit lower. The real numbers lie somewhere in the middle.

Ask yourself,

  • Is my email bounce rate above or below the industry average?
  • How many total bounces do I have on a typical email blast?
  • Is my month over month bounce rate increasing or decreasing?

2. Auto-Replies

Those autoresponders from your last email blast… is the contact just out of the office (OOTO)  or did they change companies? You want to keep an eye on how many auto-replies fall into the latter category.

When a prospect changes companies, that “undeliverable” email doesn’t show up in your bounce report, but the effect is the same: your message is lost in the mail.

In this situation, contact decay is causing two separate problems. You no longer have the correct contact information for the account in your database, and you’re missing an opportunity to maintain communication with a prospect you have already spent time nurturing at their new company.

3. Last Touch Reports

Pull a “last touch report” in your CRM and examine how many contacts have not been contacted by marketing or sales in the last 90 days. Most companies are alarmed to discover that this number makes up a sizable portion of their database.

How many more have not been touched in over 6 months, or even a year?

If your database decays at an average rate of 3% each month, you can do some quick back-of-the envelope math to get a picture of how many of your customer records have gone bad.

4. Lead Status

Non-Responses. If your marketing or sales team has repeatedly contacted a prospect without any response, ask yourself why. It may be that they’re simply not interested and have consciously ignored your last 6 emails. It may also be that you have the wrong contact information. A big chunk of your non-response list is likely unrealized pipeline potential.

Disqualifications. Most sales teams set up a picklist that looks something like this: budget, timing, authority, use a competitor, poor product fit, etc. Every few quarters you want to work these leads back through your marketing and sales funnels. A once disqualified lead could very well become a good fit down the road. The trouble is, by the time you try and reconnect with these prospects half a year later, many of them have gone out of date.

5. Personal Emails

CMS Wire reports that when a sales account is initiated with a personal email address rather than a company address, the average spend is 55% lower than average.

Pull a report of all contacts in your system using Gmail, Yahoo, and other generic email providers. You should enrich this list by adding business emails.

6. Filtering By Key Field

Even if you’re not explicitly grading or scoring leads, you know there are certain characteristics shared by your best customers. Depending on your product, this key data point could be something as simple as number of employees or as specific as what type of payment processing software a prospective company uses for their online store.

If you know a particular data point is more likely to indicate a good fit or close a deal, check how many of your customer records are missing that field altogether.

7. Industry

Customer data decays at a fairly consistent rate across industries. The average decay rate across all industries is over 3%. For many industries, that number is more like 6% monthly contact decay.