5 Top tips for B2B data cleaning

B2B data cleaning is one of those areas of marketing that seems to attract endless questions about how, and why. The mystique is probably down to the fact that data is pretty high-stakes, yet opaque. Companies worry about the state of their data in case it affects their growth potential. Almost every time a Blue Donkey client presents their database for telemarketing, they do so in the shadows of shame. Usually, their anxiety is unfounded and the company database performs better than a newly purchased one would. This is simply because some previous thought or reason has gone into adding a record in the first place. This may be an enquiry that’s gone cold or a buyer that stopped buying.

So if data is the precious lifeblood of marketing, how do you know if it’s good enough to use? And what’s the best form of B2B data cleansing? A few simple tests can usually determine whether it’s worth using existing data, or doing B2B data cleaning first. Or if it’s worth binning altogether and starting again with bought data.

1. Try a telemarketing & data cleaning combo

In general terms, B2B data cleaning by telemarketing tends to drive more positive outcomes than any other method. A human voice asking questions and responding according to answers will get results. This is mainly because you can profile and prioritise the data as you go along. If you’re outsourcing to a professional agency, they will usually move straight from the data cleaning to the lead generation. This can even happen in the same call.

So it’s not always the case that B2B data cleaning has to happen in an entirely separate exercise to your lead generation. In fact, if you’re cleaning data and doing lead generation simultaneously, the data is in the best possible shape. And if you’re lucky, your project will begin paying for itself with leads before your investment is complete.

2. Be cautious

Good campaigns start with good data, and if the data is bad, the project will underperform, sometimes spectacularly. If you’re using your data for a marketing activity before your telemarketing team starts work, check it first. Data itself can be purchased quite cheaply. By contrast, the cost of irrelevant data going in the top of your sales funnel can be high. Everything you do with the data once it’s in your database is what starts racking up costs in wasted marketing. B2B data cleaning doesn’t always have to be a lengthy or complicated process. Sometimes it’s just a case of electronic pre-screening against the preference services, address checking, standardising and deduping. After that, you can add and append new data and information as you touch it, with telemarketing, email, etc.

3. Link your B2B data cleaning to your marketing

Data should be carefully checked for accuracy and completeness before you start plugging it into your broader marketing cycle. You can do this quickly and simply by dialling every few records and checking the information at reception level. Look out for changes in decision maker name, job title, and postcode. Your B2B data cleaning should follow a pattern that’s linked with the broader goals of your marketing. If you target companies with a certain turnover, for example, make sure that’s built into your questioning. There’s a lot of information you can gather at reception level. How many sites, website address, number of staff, etc can all be gathered at reception. Do remember however that the receptionist doesn’t have to help you, so be kind, and show respect.

4. Mind what you ask for

Take care to ask questions in the right way. That might seem obvious but it’s easy to add incorrect information to a database simply because the question was vague. For example, ‘what’s the name of the person who deals with your company finances’ – is probably the wrong question. Unless you want the day-to-day contact, rather than the decision maker, the question won’t yield the right outcomes for marketing. Instead, ask for ‘the name of the person who makes decisions about company finances’. If the question was wrong, any communication you have with the irrelevant contact is wasted. Even worse, they could turn into gatekeepers and render that company record lost forever.

Under GDPR you don’t have an automatic right to names, job titles and emails so check out the rules. According to the ICO, “GDPR applies wherever you are processing ‘personal data’. This means if you can identify an individual either directly or indirectly, GDPR will apply.

Equally, do make sure your team obtains consent for calls and marketing as they progress through their sales or telemarketing. By doing so, their B2B data cleaning becomes more robust, whilst also building the database into a valuable company asset.

5. B2B data cleaning is never completed

Data is never an infinite resource. Even if there was a company database, once the B2B data cleaning and telemarketing starts happening, you see gaps appear. As fast as people are moving jobs, company characteristics, and targeting evolves, so data comes in and out of criteria. Therefore, all databases are constantly a work in progress. Additionally, there are decisions to be made about whether it’s quicker and cheaper to make or buy the data. Where the data is simply based on turnover, sector, geography, it’s quite possible to purchase a list faster and cheaper than B2B data cleaning by phone can manage. Unless decision maker job titles are common ones like Finance Director, it may be better to build a database. This means buying a selection based on targeting characteristics, then qualifying by researching and appending decision maker names.

Database headings and drop-down menus can be used to help uncover patterns or similarities in decision types. Anything you need to select or target on can also be built into the structure of your database before any B2B data cleaning starts.

To find out more about B2B data cleaning or our intelligent telemarketing approach, speak to us today.

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