I’ve noticed a pattern — companies that mine reply emails (manually or automatically) follow a 3-phase deployment strategy.
- Phase 1, Stem Database Decay: Maintain and enhance the customer database
- Phase 2, Expand Database: Deepen and broaden knowledge within target accounts
- Phase 3, Grow Revenue: Discover actionable sales trigger events
Over the next few weeks I will address each of these phases by discussing the market dynamics, exploring customer needs, and detailing the benefits of reply email mining. At a high level, leveraging email replies increases our knowledge of target accounts and this insight enables us to better serve the market.
I invite you to explore these phases with me … first up, Stem Database Decay.
Market Dynamics of Database Integrity
Bad data costs US businesses more than $611 billion annually, and causes 40% of business objectives to fail. What’s more, 94% of organizations suspect that their customer and prospect data are inaccurate. In fast-paced corporate environments where employees change jobs frequently and mergers and acquisitions are the norm, B2B data decays at a rate of 70% per year.
We’re not just talking about an inconvenience; bad data is a real, measurable and tangible bottom-line problem. That’s why data integrity is – or at least should be – such an integral focus for any organization’s sales and marketing teams.
I want to make it clear that data integrity is a multi-faceted issue that requires a holistic approach. There is no silver bullet when it comes to consistently maintaining a complete, accurate database. Data comes from many sources, and your processes for physically updating your database may vary. The responsibility may fall on sales or marketing, or a combination of both.
If you’re currently on a journey to better data health, here are some considerations.
Hey, We’re All In This Together
Sales and marketing play critical roles when it comes to maintaining the integrity of your customer database. While the ABM movement in the B2B sector has made great strides in aligning these two teams, there’s often still a disconnect when it comes to shared data. Marketing looks toward the next campaign and adding new leads, while sales is busy selling. Because sales is usually the one actually talking to leads, it often falls on their shoulders to update the database when they learn about a change. But sales people are busy…selling. Finding time for data entry is nearly impossible. And I’ve found that marketing is aware of this, and actually, wish they had better insight into the changes sales is learning about so that their campaigns could be more targeted.
Everyone wants to be in it together, but alignment is challenging.
The solution lies in automation. When you find a way to automate database maintenance, sales is freed up to spend more time selling, and marketing receives notifications of the changes that are occurring, allowing them to increase personalization and fine-tune messaging.
When sales and marketing are aligned and working toward the same shared revenue goals and they’ve nailed down a solution for automated, continuous database maintenance, they’re unstoppable. Imagine being in the elite 6% that is confident of their data integrity.
Here’s a secret: it’s not as difficult to achieve as you may think.
The Challenges With Bad Data
Bad records in your database are like pebbles in a pond. A bad email address may instantly sink a record, rendering it useless in your marketing efforts. And like the ripple on the pond, the effects extend far beyond the initial impact.
Bad data hurts your brand reputation – The most obvious example of this is failing to act on unsubscribe requests. Not all recipients of your emails use the convenient link to automatically opt-out of your communications. Some hit “reply” and manually ask to be unsubscribed. When you don’t catch these requests, you anger recipients, risking backlash on social and review sites, and face potential legal recourse under CAN-SPAM and CASL laws and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Beyond non-compliance, bad data can make your brand appear unprofessional. Using the wrong name when personalizing emails, continuing to send to a person that has left the company or changed email addresses, writing “Dear Sir” to a female, and even sending untargeted, irrelevant content, can all cause a recipient to scoff and write off your brand. We’ve talked about personalization in the past, but it warrants a reminder that improper personalization is just as damaging as good personalization is beneficial.
Bad data impacts your email deliverability – It may be easier to ignore inaccurate records, but continuing to send to the wrong email address or the wrong person can land you in hot water with corporate spam filters. When leads that have technically opted-in never open your emails, you could be flagged as a graymail sender, which can cause all of your emails going into an organization to get quarantined. Likewise, if one annoyed person receiving irrelevant content marks you as spam instead of unsubscribing, it may cost you access to other leads in the account – even if they actually want to hear from you!
Additionally, 43% of people’s phone numbers change annually. For sales representatives that rely on this more direct means of connecting with prospects and customers, a wrong number can mean the end of the road, or at the very least, a time-consuming workaround as they look for another another channel to connect.
While it’s crazy to think bad data could have such far-reaching effects, these are the very reasons database inaccuracies cause businesses to lose so much money.
Bad data impacts your sales – Name, email, title, phone number, and address changes are integral to data integrity. When you use frictionless forms to collect inbound leads, you may only get a name and email address. The next step is to learn the additional contact information so you can segment your lists and personalize messaging.
Additionally, when a lead leaves the company or an account undergoes a merger or acquisition, these changes are sales opportunities. Not only do you appear uninformed continuing to market to the wrong people at the wrong company, but learning about these trigger events can be fantastic selling opportunities. Stay tuned for phase 3 of this series where we discuss how data integrity impacts your ability to leverage these valuable trigger events.
Best Practices For Customer Database Integrity
Ok, so it’s clear why database integrity is important, but realistically how do you get there?
Complete, accurate and consistent information is the heart of data integrity. You need to learn about changes with your leads and accounts as soon as possible to both improve the results of your sales and marketing efforts, and also to avoid the negative effects of bad data.
There are many ways to get your hands on fresh data. Your sales team can provide input as they interact with leads and learn about changes, you can pay a database vendor for the information, you can mine reply emails using an automated reply email mining service like LeadGnome, or you can use some combination of these strategies.
Zak Pines, VP Marketing at Bedrock Data, says “Reply email mining is the secret weapon of keeping your customer database current and up to date. There is so much information coming back to you through email replies – you want to get that data out of your email inbox and automatically into your CRM and marketing systems.”
The key to any cleansing strategy in my opinion, is frequency. No matter what methods you’re using, if you shrink the time period between database cleanups, your data is cleaner. Some organizations do annual, some do quarterly, or even monthly. What frequency is ideal? I submit that none of these are good enough. In today’s data-driven world, the only way to beat your competition is to maintain your data continuously.
Reply email mining is the closest thing to a continuous database cleansing solution you can get. Every time you send an email marketing campaign, the replies that come back contain information that allow you to enrich and cleanse 72% of records annually. While there is no silver bullet, reply email mining is a powerful component of a database cleansing strategy.
Stay tuned for phase 2 and phase 3 in this series about data integrity. We will take a more in-depth look at best practices for adding new contacts to your database, and discuss how data integrity affects your ability to learn about, and capitalize on, sales trigger events. If you’d like to see reply email mining in action, download our free eBook with examples of the most common replies and exactly what information can be mined from them.