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Data decay plagues every single business. Under normal circumstances, around 25-30% of your database will be bad in a year! Data doubles in size every 12-18 months, according to Sirius Decisions. Companies must take proactive measures to preserve the quality of their data.


The success of marketing campaigns is dependent upon the accuracy of the data. Why? Marketers are tasked with 2 major responsibilities: generating leads, and qualifying leads. If marketing departments cannot reliably communicate with prospects neither goal can be accomplished. Data decay is the roadblock.

Data Decay

Is your B2B database full of toxic data?

According to Target Marketing, between 50 and 75% of B2B marketing campaigns success is decided by the accuracy of the available data. B2B sales cycles are complex for 2 reasons: they’re long, and involve many influencers and decision-makers.

The misconception behind B2B exchanges is that you’re selling to a business. In reality, you’re still selling to individuals; just those that have decision-making power to purchase products for the business. According to a DemandGen report, 67 percent of B2B buying cycles involve more team members. So, the most important information for B2B marketers is targeting the right individuals.

CRM’s help businesses segment data to organize every lead, prospect, opportunity, and contact record. But software is only as useful as the data it contains. Good quality, updated information is hard to come by because of data decay. Businesses invest tons of money in generating leads, but they don’t invest in preserving those leads. The breakdown of causes of data decay is outlined by Target Marketing, from survey results:

  • Job or title change → 65.8%
  • Phone number change → 42.9%
  • Email address change → 37.3%
  • Change of company name → 34.2%
  • Move companies → 29.6%
  • Change of name → 3.8%

Even though this survey is dated by a decade, the results are still troubling. Simply put, data decays at a faster rate than ever because job turnover is very high. The rate of decay is continually accelerating.

Accelerated Decay

Hubspot posted a study on marketing databases, claiming that business databases naturally decay at 22.5 percent per year! Put another way, 1 out of 5 contact records is completely lost due to data decay. Waste cripples profits, and data decay is the biggest source of avoidable waste for every business. The decay rate is so high that healthy databases can be completely useless within 5 years. People grow, change jobs, and move on. Business change accordingly. Do not waste resources generating leads if you cannot act on them.

Don't get your wires crossed.
Don’t get your wires crossed.

Marketing lists are business assets. The database becomes unusable if businesses do not take proactive measures to combat natural information churn. Databases, by definition, are a dying asset with diminishing returns. Here are some consequences of dying data:

  • Businesses have to invest more money into replacing contacts with new leads. Longer the decay, bigger the investment.
  • Data decays, and there are no signs.
    • Businesses can still use bad data for marketing practices, increasing sunk costs before anyone takes the time to check. DQ Global estimates that UK businesses waste 220 million pounds sending mail to the wrong people!
  • Bigger the database, bigger the problem

Solve the Problem

detective sherlock holmesYou don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to solve the data decay problem. All you need is to start.

Data decay clearly has financial consequences for businesses. But what about other challenges from bad data? Here are some examples:

  • Maintaining communication → decaying data makes it difficult to stay in touch with key decision-makers at a company
  • Inadequate lead scoring → inaccurate data prevents companies from segmenting leads to target their best customers
  • Brand strength:
    • Multiple mailings can frustrate customers and harm credibility
    • No one wants someone else’s mail. Persistent misdirected mail can be a serious irritant

The largest cause for CRM failure is inaccurate or duplicate data from data decay. If lead generation, qualification, and scoring techniques are dependent on the data, the incentive to increase quality is natural. Do not neglect data decay because you cannot physically see the effects. Assume your data is decaying constantly and take the necessary steps to fix it:

The last recommendation is perhaps the most important. Data is the single most valuable asset to any business. Data will always decay, and the larger the database, the harder it is to maintain. Businesses need to be proactive with their data.  

Ensuring your data is accurate and updated is an obligation, not a choice. Don’t wait to get started, your data is decaying right now!

The author:

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