Who owns the contact data?

“3 out of every 4 commercial businesses believe that they are losing as much as 73% of revenue due to poor data quality”…Experian – QAS. U.S. Business Losing Revenue Through Poorly Managed Customer Data


A common issue I see in enterprise companies is the ‘perceived’ ownership around ‘data’ amongst sales and marketing – specifically I see marketing underestimating the value of clean contact data and overestimating sales ownership of contact information.  CRM systems like Salesforce.com and others have been around for 10+ years and many larger enterprises have a Salesforce admininstrator, reporting into sales, responsible for the policies and procedures within their company’s CRM System.   So naturally, marketers tend to say ‘contact data is a sales problem.’  I disagree.  Data Integrity is a business issue.  Marketing needs to take a more active role in data ownership and data quality around the contact level – and the need is acute if all contact level data is housed in the CRM system as it is likely the marketing organization is not digging in their CRM system as often as they should be.

With more B2B companies leveraging the capabilities of marketing automation vendors to do batch and blast email among other tactics, suddenly, the contact information has become very relevant to marketers – clean contact data means more conversions which means more revenue. 

A variety of issues cause the data to be bad or incorrect.  With this in mind, marketing can take a business leadership  position by inspecting data samples or sets– to then present to the heads of marketing and sales on what the quality is. As an example, either sales or marketing should reports to analyze the following areas:

  • Complete a Country Code analysis – think global
  • Look at Duplicates (even Leads that duplicate Contacts or Accounts)
  • Verify and enrich address data (data appending)
  • Compare external data to CRM data for accuracy
  • Run Reports on fields, test to see how often fields are used
  • Analyze all or a subset of your records for verification

With this information in hand, a leader will have a more precise understanding of the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.  Better data = better campaigns = better conversion which makes for the right business mix.

What have you found successful in your data analysis?

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2 Responses to Who owns the contact data?

  1. Max Kalehoff says:

    Hi Jon. Good post. Our team is on the same page. Wasn’t always that way, but surely is now. I’m curious which methods and staffing strategies you’ve seen successful in operationalizing clean data entry and maintenance, even before automation and sales prospecting begins. Lead acquisition has to start with data scrubbing to remove junk and dupes, and to make appendages as the leads come in. What’s worked well for you here?

    I’ve found that automation alone absolutely doesn’t work on its own, because the same leads will often come in under different email addresses, and even offer slightly different variations of their company data.

    In my situation, we have an army of college interns doing this mission-critical scrubbing and retroactive clean-up/maintenance. I like interns for a few reasons. One, you can find ambitious ones that really care about their work, despite how tedious it may be. Second, if your workplace is near good universities, they can work alongside you, so your team can monitor their output quality and productivity. Third, the entry process forces them to get to know the CRM database and nuances of the leads very well and they can easily progress to more sophisticated tasks, like reporting and analysis, programming marketing automation campaigns, and more. Fourth, our intern team is staffed with juniors, seniors and very recent graduates — and inherently serves as a farm team for future, entry-level sales and marketing hires. Fifth, interns are cost-effective (we do pay them), and this is important because we are not printing money (yet).

    While we use a lot of interns, I’m curious if you’ve seen other methods work when you absolutely need some human, manual oversight into the initial lead entry and scoring process.

  2. Jon Russo @b2bcmo says:

    Hi Max,

    Thanks for leaving a note!

    Your intern idea is a really solid one, I visited a company near us recently that has taken that approach (albeit just one intern so you are more robust). Here’s a few other approaches I’ve seen other people use:

    1. Depending on the marketing automation selection, the more industrial grade tools have increased their sophistication to catch data quality problems up front *if* the system front end loads the contacts ahead of CRM. If the data in the marketing automation database is uploaded from the CRM, the bad data issues persist. This is tricky because most people have invested in CRM ahead of marketing automation .

    2. Similar to your intern idea, others are starting to rely on offshore companies to do the data appending (Salesify, Nexsales) at cost effective rates. With precise instruction to these types of companies, these companies can get more intelligence around data field structures.

    3. With data.com on the horizon from salesforce.com (assuming your company is a user of their service), the contact information in Jigsaw will have more robust account level information from D&B. Jigsaw data becomes more important with time.
    You are ahead of the curve with the intern thought. I’ve been in 3 or 4 companies recently, all are paralyzed at the thought of digging into contact information relegating that to the SFDC admin and calling it a sales issue. That’s when a marketer gets into trouble imho.

    Hope that helps.
    Jon

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