How to Clean Up a B2B Database and Prospect List
March 22, 2018
Healthier Data, Healthier Leads, Healthier Sales
Are you concerned about the “health” of your prospect list? You should be. According to a report by Integrate, poor data quality (e.g., duplicate data, invalid values and missing fields) on average 40 percent of the leads generated for SMB and enterprise businesses alike. Unfortunately, incomplete or inaccurate databases can have serious bottom-line consequences.
Data is the oil of any sales and marketing engine, and companies that wish to grow their sales pipelines (and revenue) need to be focused on the quality of their prospect lists. Clean prospect lists minimize waste in terms of both the time and money spent tracking down or reaching out to leads. They also ensure that high-value leads don’t fall through the cracks and become unreachable because of inaccurate contact information.
The good news is that data quality issues are easy to fix.
But how do prospect lists get out of synch in the first place? There are several causes of a “dirty” prospect list. Unclean databases most commonly share the following characteristics:
- Poorly entered data, yielding inaccurate records
- Improperly maintained data, leading to out-of-date information
- Non-normalized data, leading to redundancy
- Loaded with spelling mistakes or spam traps
You might wonder how often prospect lists need to be cleaned. The answer depends on several variables, but mainly on the condition of your database. In most cases it’s good enough to clean up a prospect list a few times per year; lists should be cleaned more often—even as much as once a month—if you:
- Have a massive prospect database, especially if you purchased it
- Generate new leads every day
- Offer incentives for signing-up (new leads can add up fast if people are just opting-in to receive your offer)
- Worry about your quality of leads
- Send email blasts regularly
- Conduct other ongoing outreach campaigns
Prospect List Cleanup Tips
First, be sure to back up your database before making any changes to your prospect list. Export the original data before you start modifying fields or pruning contacts to ensure that you have a way of recovering a lead if they are mistakenly removed or their contact information is altered.
Standardize data entry
Uniformity is key to a clean prospect list, and it’s also one of the easiest places to start when undertaking a database cleanup project. For each field, determine whether the data should be “standardized” or not. State names, for example, can make it hard to build a geographically segmented list if the data is inconsistent—instead of “Massachusetts,” “Mass,” or “MA,” choose a single value and stick to it. If you capture leads from an online form, have prospects choose from drop-down menus for clean, consistent results.
Filter out inactive leads
“Inactive” leads are prospects who have not interacted with your company for a period of time. Even if the information is correct, a database full of inactive leads is still problematic since your sales and marketing teams may be wasting time reaching out to prospects who have not shown any interest in becoming a customer, sometimes at the expense of white-hot leads.
Champion good data hygiene
One of the best ways to keep a prospect list clean is to create a culture of “data hygiene” within your organization. Whoever is responsible for entering, updating, and appending data should know what constitutes “clean” data—and more importantly, they should know why clean data is so important. Explain how a clean prospect list will benefit the organization (more sales, for example) and the potential consequences of incomplete or inaccurate information. And make sure that any sales agents or marketers who have access to these lists understand the importance of being careful and thorough when entering information manually.
Better Prospect Databases, Better Results
Sales and marketing decisions are only as good as the data that informs them. Intelemark can help make certain that your efforts are focused on real prospects, using current and valid information. We will thoroughly cleanse your databases, helping you reach prospects to gain the best results. Learn more about our prospect list cleanup and database vetting services.