Garbage in, garbage out: The importance of data cleaning to grow companies

Jennifer Mancusi 4 minute read

As businesses try to grow, data-driven marketing strategies face increased challenges. Privacy policies and consumer protections make tracking attribution more difficult, while audiences show less tolerance for irrelevant, untargeted campaigns. To cut through the rising digital noise and create more impactful, authentic marketing, meticulous data cleaning and management is no longer optional – it’s imperative. So, let’s take a look at the importance and benefits of data cleaning in this article.

As discussed on “Marketing, Demystified,” we can expect the traditional demand generation playbook to decline even further. Tactics like gated content and broad outbound advertising see diminishing returns in a buyer landscape that craves inbound personalization. At the same time, marketing data suffers from inaccuracies like wrong names and titles, eroding consumer trust. Moving forward, the path to revenue lies in an inbound strategy supplemented by precision outbound efforts. Brands that fail to align sales and marketing through shared, reliable data will struggle to convert cold prospects into delighted customers.

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The Challenges Marketers Face

It’s clear that the tried-and-true demand generation methods marketers relied on even a few years ago are fading out. Consumers bristle at invasive tracking and expect every interaction to feel genuinely personal and relevant. Meanwhile, consumer privacy legislation gives audiences more control over data sharing than ever before.

The Critical Role of Data Cleaning

No matter how sophisticated your marketing automation and segmentation capabilities become, everything falls apart if you don’t start with accurate, unified foundational data. To cut through noise and make an impact, companies need to leverage the data they already have to drive relevant, personalized interactions across the entire customer lifecycle. This is only possible through comprehensive data cleaning.

So, where should you start? First and foremost, carefully comb through your database and CRM to correct any inaccuracies. Scrub out duplicate contacts, standardize formats (especially for names/addresses), fill in missing fields, and verify data like titles and company names. While this can be tedious, manual work, it pays dividends across every customer touchpoint.

With a clean database, you can prevent embarrassing mistakes like addressing email recipients by the wrong name. Nothing erodes trust and goodwill faster than a sloppy personalization fail, so avoid sending “Dear John” emails to contacts named Jane at all costs. Data maintenance is critical for sending new customer promotions to actual new customers instead of your loyal longtime buyers. It also empowers your team to identify new contacts earlier in the buyer’s journey by recognizing existing relationships.

Clean data also makes effective segmentation possible, so you only market to relevant personas. Without confidence in your contact records, you risk misplaced ads, inappropriate outreach to non-buyer stakeholders, and missed growth opportunities. Essentially, high-quality data gives your entire go-to-market motion a solid foundation. The more unified, accurate, and complete your CRM data is, the better every campaign will perform.

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Additional Benefits of Data Hygiene Initiatives

While the marketing use case likely provides sufficient motivation for most brands to prioritize data cleaning, there are ancillary benefits across the business:

More productive sales conversations. When customer data is unreliable, sales reps waste time researching basic questions and correcting outdated assumptions. With a unified CRM, reps can focus on building rapport and discussing needs.

Higher quality customer service. Support teams rely on customer records to resolve issues quickly. But when data is messy, agents struggle to piece together relevant order history, preferences, and other details needed to deliver exceptional service.

Improved team alignment. Discrepant data causes confusion about strategy and performance between departments. Shared data integrity improves collaboration and progress toward unified business goals.

Enhanced operational efficiency. Duplicate records waste storage capacity, while missing information leaves teams unsure about the next steps. Clean data minimizes redundant manual efforts across teams.

Foundational AI/ML readiness. As artificial intelligence and machine learning transform businesses, usable foundational data is required. Otherwise, algorithms inherit existing data issues and limitations.

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Marketing data hygiene must become a top priority in today’s ultra-competitive, privacy-centric landscape. While perfect data remains an unrealistic ambition with constantly changing inputs, brands who invest in continual, comprehensive database cleaning will see outsized returns across metrics. Not only will scrubbed data bolster marketing efforts in the coming year, but it also improves critical business functions in the short and long term.

Prioritizing Ongoing Maintenance

For many companies, executing an initial thorough data cleansing initiative makes the most sense to align go-to-market motions and establish a trustworthy analytics foundation. But data integrity can never be “one and done” – as long as new inputs enter your systems, inaccuracies will creep in over time. The solution lies in establishing solid data governance models and workflows.

After the initial cleanup, tap internal data experts and leverage data quality tools to automate ongoing monitoring. Proactively identify unfinished records, duplication opportunities, and mismatched data types. Provide relevant teams access to dashboards highlighting areas needing attention so data issues get resolved quickly.

Schedule periodic comprehensive analyses as well – an annual audit can uncover systemic gaps, leading teams to input incorrect data from the start. Identify the root causes behind such patterns, then update processes, documentation, and tools accordingly. You might also consider tying data quality KPIs to team incentives to keep standards high.

For the greatest efficiency, strive to keep databases automatically in sync across tools. Eliminate tedious manual duplication of effort by connecting your CRM with marketing automation software, support ticketing systems, analytics platforms, and other critical business systems. Enterprise automation platforms now allow extensive integration without intensive IT lift.

The future of marketing – and, arguably, business as a whole – depends on trust earned through relevant personalization only possible with precise data.

While privacy legislation and consumption shifts make accurate attribution tracking difficult, marketers can still demonstrate value through creative “implied attribution” and goal alignment across revenue teams. Now is the time to prioritize database cleaning initiatives and ongoing data governance as foundational capabilities on which tomorrow’s most successful brands will be built. The tolerance for messy, unusable data has reached its end – there’s simply too much at stake.



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