The Current State of Things
According to the Salesforce 2nd State of the Connected Customer Report (2018), 72% of business buyers expect vendors to personalize engagement to their needs. The same report also found that 79% of customers were willing to share their personal information in exchange for contextualized information that allowed the vendor to better know and understand them.
In a nutshell, B2B buyers expect better experiences and are willing to give their personal information for those better experiences.
The CRM is one of the top three technologies that is used by marketers to solve the customer identity problem. It is no wonder that 95% of marketers use, or intend to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system within the next two years. This is a projected growth of 55% from 2017.
The Data Decay & B2B Database Marketing Infographic, tells us that databases, such as a CRM database, decays naturally because:
- People change titles, companies, jobs, go out of business or merge into different businesses, and
- Vendors are using databases that are cluttered with invalid, outdated, or incomplete leads
Figure 2: Multiple data challenges
The same report also states that bad data impacts all spheres of business including lead generation, marketing, finance, and customer relationships.
Indeed, CMO’s and marketers spend lots of resources including time and money on marketing automation programs and other tools, only to find that their databases are not accurate within a short time. Essentially, the tools quickly become ineffective and worse yet, businesses keep paying for ineffective tools. By any measure, this is not an ideal situation.
The invalid, outdated, irrelevant, or incomplete data (bad data) can result in various ways including accidental deletion, user error, corruption of systems, etc. The solution to the bad data is data cleansing.
Depending on who you ask, data cleansing can involve data normalization, appending, correction, deduplication, getting new leads and producing market intelligence reports. For the purpose of clarity in this blog post, data cleansing, and in this specific case CRM cleansing, involves uncovering, identifying, correcting, deleting, updating and modifying each data entry from all sources.
A data append refers to the process of opening your entire existing contact database and ensuring that each item actually matches with your customer’s contacts by filling in missing information or other glaring gaps.
If you have a massive database, data cleansing can be daunting. The good news is that there are several automated solutions and data cleansing services that can help to get the job done. Here are some tips to keep your CRM data up-to-date and clean:
- Deploy a maintenance schedule (at least quarterly if not more often) to ensure that CRM records are up-to-date and clean
- Conduct a CRM data audit. The audit should produce a report that will point to the areas of focus in the CRM data cleaning process. The review can be automated or manual.
- If your CRM has an automatic de-duplication feature, use it. Most modern CRM’s have this feature running in the background and even include notifications in case a duplicate entry is found. If you don’t have this de-duplication feature, purchase a third-party tool that will help you do so.
- Use third-party tools and resources including data sources for list building, data verification, data updating, etc.
- Prune unused, irrelevant or old data. Start by separating current, up-to-date data and clean data from unused, irrelevant and old data to deal with the good data first.
- Find better CRM templates to avoid future data entry challenges and to make the data cleansing process streamlined. When you type in ‘find phone number’ or ’find email address’ in your CRM, you should find exactly what you want,
- Outsource to data cleansing experts. If the job is too big, too laborious, too complicated or too resource intensive, to be done quickly and efficiently in-house, then outsource the job to experts.
Why Cleanse Your CRM Data?
From everything we have discussed above, list building is just half the game. If you can’t find a phone number and worse yet if the phone number doesn’t give you access to the right person, in the position you need to help you then the list building is useless. From the customer perspective, if you do not have the correct information that will ensure meaningful engagement, then you will lose your customer.
According to the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report (2018), 76% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. Consequently, 57% of customers stop buying from vendors because a competitor provides a better experience. In fact, 67% of customers confirm that they will pay more for an excellent experience.
In short, the stakes are quite high when it comes to having a clean CRM. If you are not yet convinced, here are a few specific reasons why cleansing your CRM data is important:
A Clean CRM Saves Everyone Time and Energy
A CRM database that is not well maintained doesn’t just affect those managing the database. A bad database will affect everyone from sales, marketing, PR, customer care, customers and anyone that needs to make a call, write an email, follow-up with a lead and such. A bad CRM database can hurt the entire companies’ efforts towards growth.
Clean CRM Data Results in Better Conversion Rates
If you have warm leads or qualified leads your chances of success, not just towards the immediate sale (SQL), but towards building a long-term relationship with customers (MQL) into the future, is significantly improved. 69% of business buyers expect an Amazon-like buying experience, it follows then that if you have accurate data about each customer and if you know exactly what they want, then your conversion rate will grow accordingly.
Figure 3: Personalization increases conversion rates for online channels
Businesses Can Do More With a Clean CRM
With clean data that is appropriately tagged, you can do more than merely use it to find contacts quickly or find out what your customer needs. Additionally, a well-maintained CRM can be used for other useful activities including better decision making that is useful in customer segmentation, customer targeting, and customer positioning (S-T-P approach). An STP approach will lead to a better-quality service and experience for customers which will in turn yield excellent results for the company as a whole.
Avoid Spam Lists and Instead Build a Strong Online Reputation
If a B2B company doesn’t have a relationship with its customer, or if a customer doesn’t feel strongly connected to the vendor, then any emails from the vendor are likely to end being discarded automatically as spam. Getting out of such a blacklist can be a difficult task and worse yet doing nothing about it can lead to a ruined reputation if the spam list is shared.
Bad CRM Data is Costly
When data verification, data updating, and the consistent use of better CRM templates, in addition to other data cleansing activities is done, then a lot of money can be saved.
Figure 4: The cost of a CRM record
Other Reasons to Clean CRM Data
Besides the factors listed above, clean data will also result in:
- Broader market reach
- A higher email open rate
- Better customer engagement and a higher customer connection rate
- Improved customer service
- Higher customer retention
- Higher ROI
- Improved revenue
The integrity of CRM data is critical for the success of every B2B company regardless of stature or size. Clean CRM data that is acted on directly correlates to high-quality service and customer experience which in turn is related to higher revenue and a stronger brand. Bad CRM data will directly affect more than just marketing, customer relationships, and lead generation. Bad data could, in fact, have an intractable impact on B2B companies that could lead to huge losses and even closure.
Cleaning CRM data should be a continuous process for every B2B company because data decay happens naturally for every business in a constantly evolving B2B environment. Even if you have not experienced losses as a result of bad CRM data, your marketing and sales teams, let alone your leads and customers, will be much happier if your CRM data is cleansed from time to time.