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How clean CRM data makes or breaks customer experiences

Your CRM is a goldmine of insights about your customer and supports your ability to create a positive customer experience.

CRMs provide a clear picture of who your customers are and your relationship with them at any given point in time. And the information stored in a CRM can be used to improve your marketing messaging, sales strategies, and customer service.

Too often, though, the CRM is treated as a catch-all for data on the customer. And it isn’t strategically organized or used efficiently by marketing and sales teams.

As with any collection system, it collects junk over time. And that makes utilizing the data for crafting experiences, service and personalization more challenging.

Its ability to help you perform the simplest of marketing tasks well is ultimately tied to the quality of the data it contains. This especially pertains to its use in more complex tactics employed along the buyer journey, such as demand generation, segmentation and lead nurturing.

How much of our CRM data isn’t clean?

Data enters the CRM in many different ways, both through manual input and mass import. Controlling the entry process can be challenging. And managing its quality after entry presents a whole new set of hurdles.

Some data simply decays naturally. People are constantly on the move, changing jobs and shifting email addresses, or moving to new locations and making their contact information obsolete.

Some data may enter the system incorrect from the outset.

Customer surveys we’ve collected show that over 15% of the emails on marketing lists are invalid. Importing those lists adds those errors to your database. Some poor data is created at the point of entry by users submitting their information incorrectly in web forms with typos across your digital landscape.

Controlling and managing data means ensuring the system is free of duplicates, data is standardized, and the information is accurate and timely.

According to the Sales & Marketing Institute, every 30 minutes:

  • 120 business addresses change
  • 75 phone numbers change
  • 20 CEOs leave their jobs
  • 30 new businesses are formed

That’s a lot of information to keep updated. But when CRM data is clean, you have a clearer picture of who your customer is or when their information has changed.

The competitive advantage of quality data

As the relationship with your customer progresses, you can add even more valuable data to the CRM. You can amass a detailed purchasing history and collect specific information relative to your customer’s preferences, demographics and more.

Specifically, these insights can be used to establish rapport with customers and increase brand affinity. No doubt your competitors are seeking to establish the same through their CRM. However, the brand that truly thrives is the one that couples insightful data with clean data.

You can have every customer detail available. But if their email address is incorrect, or customers are duplicated that are in fact different people, then your perfectly tailored marketing tactic doesn’t deliver the way you intended — or even at all.

Data quality’s role in guiding the buyer journey

If you plan to use your CRM to guide the buyer journey, then it’s especially important to implement a process and the right tools to clean up your data and prevent dirty data from entering the system in the first place.

Additionally, to activate more complex marketing initiatives with bigger spend and increased effort behind them, the data has to be viable.

1. Making lead nurturing more successful

Lead nurturing is part of even the fastest buying cycle.

Every buyer takes a journey from hearing about your product or service, to recognizing its potential as the right choice, to buying it. Knowing where your customer is and — equally important, isn’t — in this journey is largely powered by the data in your CRM.

With quality data, you will begin to see patterns emerge in what works and what doesn’t.

Creating this visibility fosters trust in CRM data and the insights it provides.

According to Marketo, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at a 33 percent lower cost.

When the system isn’t cleaned up, companies end up wasting time connecting with the wrong buyer or sending misaligned communications because the CRM served up foggy lead information.

2. Better customer segmentation

Customer segmentation through targeted campaigns is not new. But it can still be tricky, especially if your data isn’t up-to-date or correct.

In fact, poor data quality can render your segmentation efforts useless if a customer is accidentally misidentified and receives the wrong campaign as a result. This misalignment can result in the inability to effectively monitor trends in the data and relate it to the success or failure of the campaign.

3. Giving demand generation its best chance

Knowing more about your customers and their purchasing habits means you can more intelligently create demand for your products or services.

It is easy to see how everyone in the organization benefits from these insights:

  • The marketing team tailors campaign messaging and the best times to hit send.
  • The product team learns what products are favored and sets pricing strategies that trigger consumers to take action.
  • The sales team focuses on offering the best, most timely solutions.
  • The management team makes more accurate sales forecasts.

It is also easy to understand how these campaigns, strategies and forecasting can be off-target if the data you’re working with to generate these insights is incorrect.

According to a report from IBM, bad data accounts for trillions of dollars spent annually by U.S. businesses. And its impact can have a domino effect on many business decisions, not just marketing.

Where should you start with prioritizing data quality?

Accumulating data in your CRM shouldn’t be your focus.

Instead, focus on the successful implementation of a long-standing data quality program that aligns your business strategy with your marketing execution.

A great place to start on your data quality journey is by performing an audit to fully understand how much clean up is required. At Validity, we offer a complimentary email and duplicate scan to help do that audit. And there are many other third-party tools available as well. The goal is to boost the native functionality of your CRM and help you establish and implement a data quality process.

In the end, it will put you one step closer to being not only a data-driven business, but a highly competitive one.

Brooke Maynard is Director of Marketing at Validity.

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