A How-To for Marketers: Maintaining a Clean Marketing Database

Databases ‌• May 30, 2013

As a follow-up from my last post about building a clean database, I thought I’d discuss how to keep it in usable condition. Databases deteriorate at an alarming rate. HubSpot estimates that email databases deteriorate by 25% each year. If you’re not taking care of your database investment in a consistent and ongoing manner, you might as well start burning two piles of money–one for what you wasted on purchasing now-defunct contacts and one for what you’ve lost in potential sales by sending emails that go nowhere.

To avoid this, here are my top six recommendations for keeping your marketing database in great shape:

  1. Measure and replace bounced emails. After every new message send, take the time to analyze which emails bounced. Then, work with the list provider who provided you with the contact and have them replace it. Many list providers will replace the bounce contact for free so this exercise is well worth your time. Make sure that the contact the list provider gives you to replace the bounce fits into your Total Addressable Market (TAM), is not in your suppression list, and is not already in your database.
  2. Triage all responders. Just like in an emergency room, triaging helps to quickly diagnose and assign treatment. Triaging your responders is a great way to ensure your database contains only companies and contacts that fit into your Total Addressable Market. If the responding contact/company does not fit into your TAM, make sure to mark it in your database. By marking it you can make sure that you isolate these contacts and companies and handle them appropriately. This is especially powerful for inbound leads as it ensures that only contacts/companies in TAM are receiving follow-up from your busy and expensive resources.
  3. Take the time to scrub lists before they’re imported.  Although it sounds obvious, this step is often overlooked, especially when there’s pressure from above to get some new blood into the messaging queue. Prior to importing any list into the system, double check that:
    • All required attributes are included on the list. Required attributes are defined as attributes that must be completed to determine whether the company/contact fits into the TAM.
    • All contacts/companies fit into the Total Addressable Market. If the contacts do not fit into the TAM, do not place them into the database; they’ll only cause you heartburn later when a rep complains he received an unqualified lead.
  4. Optimize all responding companies. Optimizing is defined as updating, adding, and cleaning company records. By optimizing responding companies, you can add desired titles to a company record, update any information that is missing or is incorrect (change of address, contact title, phone number, etc.), and finally clean up and remove any contacts that are no longer with the company.
  5. Continue to attempt to fill the gaps in your database. On an ongoing basis, you should continue to attempt to fill in the gap between your database and your Total Addressable Market. Since you’re always striving to penetrate 100% of your TAM, this should be a fundamental component of your optimization efforts.
  6. Use analytics to determine your best provider partner. Make sure to track and see how data from various providers performs. The best will have the lowest bounce rate, the lowest number of contacts/companies failing triage, have the best response rate, and create the most MQLs.

As you can see, it’s no small feat to keep a marketing database clean and functioning, but it is worth the effort. Ultimately you’ll be able to show better ROI and more of an impact to sales’ pipeline. It’s a win all around. Check out out how-to guide for more information.

Sam McCue
Inbound Marketing guru, avid fisherman, and all-around backcountry enthusiast.

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