Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it. — Salvador Dali

Customer and prospect contact data is frequently imperfect or incomplete.

You can’t let that fact paralyze your organization or push it into the direction of flying blind, rather than actively addressing the problem.

Modern marketing organizations recognize that even with perfect contact data, there is a natural decay of contact data quality of about 25% per year, as people change roles, change companies, retire, or leave your industry entirely. To that end, your organization must establish a Parthenon of processes to stay ahead of the game.

Managing Contact Data Quality, Health and Hygiene Is A Team Sport.

Marketing, sales, sales and marketing operations, and even operations play a role in entering and maintaining contact data. Pointing the finger at one group, or the other, without active involvement by the team, contributes to data decay and contamination.

Here are eight essential best practices to keep your contact data clean and actionable for sales and marketing success:

  1. Establish a tight interlock with the sales organization at the highest level, and with frontline sales managers, as sales teams play an essential role in entering and maintaining contact data. Most top CRMs have tools and processes you can embed to facilitate ease of contact data maintenance, including the use of mobile applications.
  2. For event marketing, don’t ever ask salespeople to provide contacts for event invitations via spreadsheets or email. Insist they enter, and tag contacts for event invites in the CRM. Again, most top CRMs have a straight-forward approach to support this process.
  3. Assign a quarantine status to new contacts creation in your CRM. New contacts created can be made available to users, while a quarantine status will allow your sales operations or marketing operations teams to validate data quality and check for duplicates
  4. Integrate your CRM data with your marketing automation tool. If emails bounce, that’s a good sign that someone may no longer with the company.
  5. Develop a battery of contact data quality and hygiene reports in your CRM, and assign a resource (internal or external) to clean and update records on a daily basis. Have them focus on your best customer and prospect records.
  6. Don’t import into your CRM contact records purchased contact lists from 3rd parties. Their data is typically poor and out of date.
  7. Set-up a custom “Inactive” field in your CRM to identify contacts that are no longer active with a company. Using “Do Not Mail” or “Email Opt-out” fields to indicate inactive contacts is not recommended as, increasingly contacts are opting-out of marketing communications, yet they remain with the company.
  8. Establish, measure and publish contact data quality, health and hygiene metrics, down to the sales team or contact owner level, so sales teams know where they stand. And if you don’t help them understand where they stand, they can’t help improve

Maintaining perfect contact data is unachievable. However, great contact data is possible and easier to achieve than you may think. Good contact data for sales and marketing is like Lightning. Poor contact data is like a Lightning Bug.

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