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Have you ever attempted to connect with a decision maker, only to be told they left the company five years ago, or in worse cases, the business has closed down altogether?
Unfortunately, this tends to be a common occurrence within the B2B industry, due to databases decaying and losing their value over time, leaving information gaps and inaccurate data records. This is inevitable due to countless pieces of information constantly being updated externally, such as changed roles, contact information, tech stacks, contract lengths, communication channels, and so on.
As this happens, your B2B data becomes obsolete and must be constantly monitored and appended to continue to hold its value. Inaccurate data can lead to financial resources and efforts going down the drain, resulting in decreased productivity levels, lower conversion rates and ultimately, negatively impacting your bottom line.
However, even today, an overwhelming number of businesses do not pay adequate attention to securing their data hygiene, causing serious damage to their operations and overall success.
In this blog, we will explore the following:
• How data decays
• At what rate data decays
• Ways to test if data needs updating
• Level of data accuracy to aim for
How does data decay?
Your company’s data decay rate may be affected by several factors, including the customer type you are targeting, the location where you operate, and the industry you are working in, especially financial and high-tech sectors.
Another reason why B2B data decays is because many sales and marketing people find comfort in having a large number of records. As a result, they may be reluctant to let go of old data. It is relatively uncommon for businesses to regularly assess the relevance of their data and understand its true value.
There may also be a fear that reducing the amount of data and reporting lower numbers to leadership could be perceived as a failure. However, carrying on marketing to the irrelevant records would highly likely cause brand damage and loss of credibility due to marketing to the wrong individuals or accounts.
At what rate does data decay?
Data decay rate depends on the roles and companies you are targeting. For example, if you are targeting senior executives in mid-large companies, on average, the tenure is about 3 years. So, if you have not been cleaning that data and you've been using it for the last 18 months, it is likely that up to half of them are no longer relevant.
On the other hand, if you are targeting mid-level operational public sector individuals, the average tenure is about 7 years. The decay becomes a little less critical then.
Marketing Sherpa’s research indicates that on average, B2B data decays at 2.1% a month, which is an annualised rate of 22.5%. If you are not refreshing your database consistently, then you may need to allocate some of your budget towards getting it done, ideally every year. Realistically, it is better to perform this more frequently in smaller batches.
A few ways to test if your data needs updating:
1) Have you been regularly cleaning it?
If you haven't been cleaning your B2B data regularly, and it hasn’t been done for more than 12 months, then a significant portion of your data is inevitably going to be out of date.
You should also ask yourself, where did the data originate from? If for example, the data is inherited and you are unsure of its source, it can be dangerous to hold on to that data without reviewing it, due to data protection and privacy laws. It is critical to be sure of your data source and method of collection to ensure appropriate targeting. Clean, accurate data is fundamental to any sales and marketing initiatives.
2) Have you got data in your system more than five years old?
If your operations are based in the UK, another way to test if your data is clean is to check if it has been in your system for over the last five years. This is incredibly pertinent due to the GDPR regulations being enforced on 18th May 2018.
If you've got data from before then, make sure to carry out an audit and take a good look at whether the data you possess meets the GDPR regulations. There is often a reluctance amongst sales and marketing teams to get rid of data. However, data that is obsolete may be doing more harm than good to your business, if there has been no dialogue or interaction with a contact for several years. Be ruthless and clear it out!
3) Running a CRM system query
Run a quick query on your CRM database and identify contacts missing phone numbers or email addresses, business accounts without contacts, missing job titles and so on.
Also check for the last updated date of your records. By last updated, we don't mean when the contacts in question were sent an automated e-mail, instead, when was the last time a real individual did something meaningful with that record?
Even if the contact data is correct, if it hasn't been engaged with in the last year or so, it may no longer be relevant.
4) Look for persona gaps in the CRM
Once you’ve done the above, dig deeper and carry out an analysis of your contacts’ job titles. Are they still the right personas? Job titles and personas are constantly evolving, bringing about roles that may have been non-existent in the past. For example, the role of sustainability manager has recently become more common as companies are focusing more on carbon footprints and reducing energy consumption.
Ensure you have the right personas and contacts in each account relevant to what you are promoting. You want to be getting to the audience that are ultimately going to be utilizing your services or products.
5) When was your targeting & segmenting last adjusted?
Have you changed your target audience over time? Are all the records in your database relevant to the new target industry and segment?
If for example, you were targeting multiple industry sectors previously, and have now switched to targeting just one sector, that may make a big portion of your B2B data irrelevant, and you may end up targeting the wrong people. Marketing to the wrong individuals can make you seem unprofessional, which risks losing your credibility within the industry.
What level of data accuracy should I aim for?
If getting your database to 80-90% accuracy costs you, as a rough example £10,000, getting it to 95% accuracy may cost a disproportionate amount. The cost would likely increase exponentially the higher the accuracy you aim for.
Despite our emphasis on the importance of highly accurate data, aiming for 100% accuracy is practically impossible due to the law of diminishing returns with cleaning data. Therefore, it is recommended to assess what level is good for you - which is typically around the 87% - 92% mark - and aim for that.
To sum it up, test your data hygiene with the following questions:
- • Where did your data originate from?
- • Does your database have any missing gaps?
- • How often and when did you last market to your contacts? What's the response rate?
- • Are your target sectors, segmentation and target personas still relevant to where you are as a business now?
- • Do you have enough depth of those personas at the moment?
If your B2B data is not relevant and is not adding value, don’t hesitate to scrap it off and build out what is relevant to you. You need to ensure your database is as precise as possible to be able to guarantee high-quality opportunities for your business. By cleansing and enriching your existing database, you allow yourself to invest your efforts into the contacts that matter, build a valuable sales-generating pipeline and receive a more promising ROI.
Once you have identified your database needs, it is crucial to establish a well-defined plan to get you to where you need to be. This includes setting clear objectives, defining your targets and allocating a dedicated budget (internally or externally) for what you are trying to achieve in terms of data coverage and breadth. Additionally, implement ongoing cleansing processes to maintain long-term data accuracy and value.
We understand this can sometimes be a tedious and time-consuming task, which is why we are here to help. Our team has put together an extensive data health check guide, to share everything you need to know about having a highly effective and valuable database.
If you would like to discuss your B2B data services needs, reach out today for a chat with one of our account directors, who would be more than happy to guide you through the process.