A new report from Informatica is highlighting the importance of clean contact data for marketers who want to ensure they are communicating effectively and providing the best possible experiences for their customers.
The report – Contact Data Verification Strategies for Marketing and Sales [viewable here as PDF] – gives a good insight into the thoughts of US marketers leading the way with data-related strategy.
For me, what really struck out from the research was how marketers rightfully want the best possible value from the contact data they collect and keep. But it is how they verify and how often they validate that data which ensures it is the best it can be.
So here we have: The 3 Vs of Contact Data…
Informatica’s findings are pretty clear cut when it comes to the negative effects of bad contact data.
Respondents cite wrong phone numbers and emails not hitting the inbox as two key problems arising when user details are wrong or out of date. This, of course, can be a massive waste of time and resources.
There might be little semantic difference between the terms ‘verify’ and ‘validate’. But it can be handy to highlight initial verification as a separate process compared to the validation that occurs later on in the B2C (or B2B) relationship.
The report finds that the outset is still the most important time to collect names, emails, phone numbers, etc. 63% of US marketers agree that verifying data upon point of entry is the most productive piece of best practice relating to contact data. The importance of the website at this stage is not understated:
“The channel that collects the most accurate contact data is website and content marketing, pointed to by 55 percent of respondents.”
But only 48% of enterprises and 20% of SMBs say they currently have a technology solution in place to collect contact data as people complete forms on their website.
If we take initial verification – ideally via the website – as the first step to good, clean, accurate contact data, then there needs to be some strategy in place in order to validate that data going forward.
Respondents are very varied in regards to their contact data validation habits, 16% even admit they never bother and a further 15% only do so annually.
Yet, finding the time to check databases to ensure data is still accurate is considered a productive piece of best practice by 45% of US marketers. 41% say the same of validating data directly with customers when possible. 76% are also using ‘third-party data to append or enrich incomplete contact data.’
As I mentioned earlier, websites offer the most valuable contact data – according to 55% of respondents. For comparison, just 27% say the same of social media and 19% say the same of search.
Those marketers on the quest for the most valuable data need also to have an understanding of the ‘types or fields’ deemed most essential by contact data leaders.
Informatica’s research finds that 83% consider the email to be the most essential piece of contact data to have. One might expect that the contact names of customers are also very important to those surveyed (66%). Yet, perhaps surprisingly, title or job function is considered most essential to 39% of US marketers – a higher percentage even than phone numbers or mailing address.
With the importance of email so commonly accepted, it is interesting to note that the report also finds that on average businesses say they’re missing email addresses for 22% of their contacts.
This research reinforces the need for a good strategy to ensure contact data is valuable. Of course, value here is not only referring to the business case or ROI of data efforts – but also to ensure consumers have a valuable experience when they interact with content and messages.
For US marketers at least, a lot of weight is put on the initial verification of contact data with the website being the channel of choice for this first stage. But keeping good contact data is an ongoing process, and validation needs to happen with regularity to ensure numbers and addresses are accurate and up to date.
With this in mind and an understanding of the best channels and types of data to collect, marketers can ensure they have the contact data of the utmost value.