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The Cost of a Bad Marketing Database

The weather and data have a lot in common. Both are common topics of conversation and complaints.  Mark Twain once said, “Everybody complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” The same can be said for marketing databases. Put a group of marketers in a room, and it won’t take long for them to start telling horror stories of their databases and complaining about their inability to find “good” data sources. Bad weather and bad data both have the capacity to ruin our plans and cost us money. However, unlike weather marketers actually can do something about the bad data that’s wreaking havoc with their marketing and sales performance. It seems, though, that many marketers have succumbed to the misguided assumption that bad is just like tomorrow’s forecast of thunderstorms – It’s something they must learn to live with.

Most marketing leaders understand that bad data has a negative impact on their marketing’s effectiveness, but if they paused and really counted costs of bad data, they may be motivated to do something about it.

Sales Productivity

Sales complains when they’re given a lead with missing or incomplete data – misspelled names, missing title, wrong phone number or email address. Even a missing title can have a negative impact on the sales team’s productivity. If they don’t do any homework to determine the title of the contact, they run the risk of chasing a lead that’s not a lead at all. How many calls will they make and how many emails will they send to someone who simple can’t make a decision? Sure, they can do a little homework (checking LinkedIn or Google), but that takes time. Doing a little research before a sales call can be a good thing, but you don’t want your sales team surfing the web all day. Maximize their selling time by limiting unnecessary research.

Opportunity Cost

Sales focuses on the deals that are in front of them today and can potentially close this quarter. Marketers should be focusing on the deals that are out there, but you don’t know about yet. What about the deal your sales team isn’t working on, but your competitor is? They’re not working on it because they don’t know it exists. They don’t know it exists because the target company and/or contact isn’t in your database. Or they may be in the database, but they may as well not be because much of the contact data (phone number, email address, etc.) isn’t accurate. You don’t know they exist and because you can’t effectively market to them, they don’t know you exist either.

Negative Brand Impact

It’s an old saying, but it’s true. You only get one opportunity to make a good first impression. It can be embarrassing to call someone by the wrong name, assume they have the wrong title or leave a voicemail message at the wrong number. Leveraging bad data for your sales efforts puts your team at a competitive disadvantage. You may as well tie one hand behind their backs.

Cluttered Tools

Garbage data clutters our CRMs and Marketing Automation tools. Many times your monthly subscription is based on the size of the database. Too many bad records could bump your subscription rate up into the next payment level.

Supplementing USPS’s Revenue

Direct mail still has a place in many organization’s marketing plans. It is effective in many cases. Bad data can up cause organizations to waste money on printing and postage because they’re sending high-cost mail pieces to the wrong contacts and companies at the wrong address.

Unproductive Prospecting

There are only so many hours in a day to make prospecting calls, and your business development team can only call so many records per hour. Their time is expensive. Don’t waste it by having them call bad data. If you have a team of 10 business developers and they each waste an hour per day calling unproductive data, they waste a total of 2,500 hours over a year. That’s like paying one person to sit and do absolutely nothing for over a year. Can your organization afford that?

Marketing Strategies Built on Fantasy

No army would ever want to go to war when their battle plan is based on bad intelligence about their enemy and target objective. If the strategy and planning are based on unrealistic assumptions, then it will most likely fail. Marketing and Sales leaders are often basing their growth goals and tactical business development plans on the wrong assumptions. You may think you have a marketing database of 10,000 targets, but in reality, the list only includes 5,000 records with valid data. This means the lead conversion rates of your campaign need be twice as effective to produce the same number of leads.

How much is bad data costing your organization? Probably enough that it’s worth the time and effort to do something about it and limit your complaining to tomorrow’s weather forecast.


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