Marketing databases, a.k.a. “lists,” are one of those things that every business has and frankly, few truly understand. In my work as a consultant, I work with many businesses over time and one of the first orders of business is to analyze the existing database. The incoming CMO must make an assessment of the value of that database and determine if what is there is sufficient to meet your lead generation goals.
After many iterations of this, I have a set of observations about the process. In general, my going-in assumption is that “something is useable here” That’s a good assumption to start with but as they say, “your mileage may vary.” Here are 4 clear signs that you should be thinking about a database refresh and clean up:
- No one knows where the database came from. This is the first sign of a dead database. If there’s no documentation and you truly do not know how the database was built over its life, you are headed for disappointment when you actually use the database. It’s even worse when you get more than one story about what is contained in the database.
- Most records are just name and email. It seems to be human nature to overestimate the completeness and quality of our data. Having just an email address is not a marketing database, it’s an email list. A database has enough data such that you can begin to tell what is what and start to segment the data. No one would intentionally build an email-only database and expect segmentation from it would they?
- Each mailing brings spam notices. Many of the vendors that we use to send out email (e.g. Marketo and Eloqua) will ding you whenever some level of bad emails are sent out from your account and ultimately will reduce your ability to execute. If you do not clean it up, it will be more difficult over time to send out emails and the vendor may shut you off altogether until you clean up your act. Use an email verification service and only mail verified emails addresses. It’s not cheap and takes some effort, but it is worth the hassle. It will keep you out of hot water.
- The percentage that have opened an email in the past year is tiny. In general, if you email someone and over some extended time they do not open your emails, they are not likely to all of a sudden begin opening your emails and acting upon them. Consider reducing the database to just those records that have opened or clicked on an email in the past year. While this feels like a radical action, the non-openers are very unlikely to ever respond, so you will not miss them in your database. You may also pay less to your Marketing Automation vendor for housing a smaller database.
The joy of having a clean database is a marketers’ dream. Once you have one it’s real hard to go back. A clean and maintained database will become a source of new leads with minimal hassle. A database filled with unclean data will yield nothing but frustration. Bite the bullet and clean up your database now! You’ll be glad you did!
What issues do you have with your marketing data? Have you taken steps to clean up your database?
You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/
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