Best Practices for Data Appending: Tips for More Strategic Database Management
There’s an old saying that cleanliness is next to godliness. And in few places is that truer than in today’s marketing landscape.
The most successful marketers — the ones who best and most frequently engage their target audiences with outstanding content — rely heavily on all kinds of data to determine what information to send, to whom, and when. Of course, their success hinges heavily upon using clean, current, and complete data, which is why so many organizations have invested significant time and money in data cleansing tools and strategies.
Smart marketers know that working from outdated or inaccurate information is a surefire way to guarantee their efforts miss the mark, tank customer confidence in their brand, and waste valuable time and resources. Data cleansing — identifying outdated, incorrect, or incomplete contact records and correcting any typographical errors and duplicate entries — is an essential first step to making sure you’re working from the best source information possible.
But sometimes simple cleaning just isn’t enough. Wiping off the counters and surface areas of your house before company arrives isn’t the same as sterilizing every crevice, nook, and cranny in your home to keep your family healthy and happy. And when it comes to your data, simply cleansing the surface isn’t the same as digging in to deep clean your data and keep your operations healthy and productive.
Data Appending: More than a surface scrub
There’s great value in reviewing top-level data for inaccurate, incomplete, or duplicate information. But just knowing that an email address or contact phone number is incorrect isn’t enough. Data appending takes cleansing several steps further, replacing outdated or incorrect data with new, up-to-date information such as swapping a contact’s business email and title from their old job with their new title and email at their new company.
The real value in data appending is that it takes the data points you already have and supplements them with correct and (often) new information that supports more thorough buyer personas, improves lead quality, and ultimately delivers greater conversions and returns on your marketing investment.
Sometimes referred to as data enrichment, appending your records with additional intelligence is key to providing your team actionable and accurate information where they need it most.
Appended or enriched records might include such information as:
- The customer’s tech stack
- Company demographic and geographic data
- Contact-level personal details such as marital status, birthdates, and social media presence
- Phone vs. email contact preferences for individual stakeholders
No matter the specific details you’re adding, each new data point arms your sales and marketing with the information they’ll need for more meaningful, personalized, and productive conversations with prospects and existing customers.
How to be a data appending superstar
Data integrity has quickly crept to the front of most marketers’ minds, but cleansing and appending still isn’t something most marketers would necessarily list as their core competency. So, here are a few best practices for data appending to guide your data management operations and help you and your team develop further expertise in effectively managing and mobilizing your marketing data.
Best Practice #1: Start with Customer Data
In most every organization, customer data is among the most accessible and valuable information the company has. So it only makes sense that it should be the first place you look for data to append, especially since keeping an existing customer is much less costly (and requires much less effort) than acquiring new ones.
Start with existing and active customers, adding contact-level details like skills they possess or technologies they use they belong to, or other organizational data like technographic information. From there, work your way backward from your highest value prospects — namely marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs) — on down the line to lower value contacts, such as those with a low-close probability, until your entire marketing database has been cleansed and appended.
Best Practice #2: Append in the Off-Season
Data integrity doesn’t have an off-season. No matter what industry or sector you’re in, there’s certain to be a busy season. Fortunately, it also means that there’s a “low season” on the other end, a perfect time to take care of essential data cleansing and appending tasks. If you don’t already have an ongoing data management strategy in place, taking advantage of any downtime between trade shows, holidays, or typical high-sales activity periods should provide ample opportunity for enriching your data and preparing it for the next high-season wave.
Best Practice #3: Append for Yourself
Outsourcing is a common approach for taking care of activities your team isn’t well-versed in or simply doesn’t have time/energy for. Need marketing collateral? Hire a copywriter. New website? Get an agency.
But data appending? That’s something you should do yourself, even if you don’t have the in-house expertise or inclination to do so.
Shortcut and simplify the process while asserting greater control over your own data by selecting a data management vendor that enables complete, end-to-end self-service. The ideal data platform should make it as easy as possible to continually append your data in real-time, while simultaneously cleansing data on your own schedule without having to wait two months or more on a third party to do it for you.
Best Practice #4: Append on the Reg
You brush your teeth regularly because dental hygiene isn’t a one-time thing. Well, data hygiene isn’t a one-time thing either.
Data is more dynamic and volatile than ever. Some sources estimate that customer data decays at a rate of 30% per year, while the volume of other essential data continues to explode.
In fact, in just the next hour, nearly 300 businesses will change addresses. More than 1,200 will change their phone numbers, nearly 700 new businesses will open their doors, and approximately 800 professionals will either start or leave their post as CEO.
With such rapid and constant change, can your team really afford to append data once a year, or even once a quarter?
Instead, seek out vendors and technology partners that allow you to easily, quickly, and consistently cleanse and append data in regular intervals — preferably each month or at least once a quarter — so you always know when, where, and how to reach the contacts you need to meet.
Necessary evils are key to success
Data management might not top many people’s lists of fun things to do. But for marketers looking to improve targeted marketing, resource allocation, and ROI, it’s a business imperative for success in today’s evolving digital landscape.
Click here to see first-hand how Synthio can empower your entire marketing team to more efficiently and effectively manage essential marketing data and boost your marketing efforts.