The Problem with (and Solution to) Database Decay [Slides]




Lead quality needs to be built on the best foundation; but a lead generation campaign is only as good as its data.

Therefore, the best foundation for quality leads is accurate, updated dataVery simple logic.

For those who need numbers to see things more clearly, according to research, between 50 and 75 percent of the success of a B2B marketing campaign is down to the accuracy of the data available.

Businesses also rely increasingly on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems – software that retains every lead, every sales opportunity and every contact record. Companies invest thousands of dollars (and man-hours) in obtaining leads that allow them to generate profit.

“But what happens a year later, when it’s time to sell something new and the data in your software is not reliable?”


The Acceleration of Decay

HubSpot published an interesting study on marketing databases. By using simulation, it found that business databases naturally degrade by 22.5 percent per annum. In another study, NetProspex reported that data decay occurs at a rate of around 2 percent per month. Its president, Michael Bird, calls this problem a “huge potential nightmare” for B2B marketers.

Donato Diorio, process automation specialist and Interim CEO of another tech company, Ringlead, claims data decay occurs at a rate of between 2.8-5.5% per month, or around 36% every year (I don’t know how they came up with 36%, but obviously, it isn’t as simple as simple addition). Either way, both numbers look grim.


In other words, more than one in five contact records in a marketing database is lost to data decay in a single year.  

That’s a contact that your business invested in, and a contact that could have yielded your next big sale.

Worse, this rate of decay is compounded over time. A healthy database with tens of thousands of contacts could be useless within half a decade.


“Look at it this way,” Bird said, “if you have 100,000 records in your database and you don’t do anything to update and maintain them, in four years they’re gone.”

Businesses grow, change, shrink, go bust, merge and split into new businesses. People grow, change and move on. It’s about time we guarded our software against data decay.


Causes of Database Decay

The most visible cause of data corruption is poor data entry. If there are no rules defining how data is entered into your information systems, inconsistencies will inevitably fester. Another is data migration—when information from one system or application is moved to another. Then, there’s what we call data mergers—when data is combined from different sources into a master file. Data consolidation—when companies attempt to eliminate redundant data.

Eliminate redundant and outdated data, check out our data cleansing services!

Add to these the fact that people move jobs, and they rarely take their email address with them. If you lose contact with one person, you effectively lose contact with their organization as a whole. Even if you have a personal email address for a valued contact, the contact probably won’t retain it for more than a couple of years


Obviously, nobody can prevent this from happening. However, there are certain ways to mitigate the risks of database decay? Basically, it involves a continuous process of collecting the best customer data from reliable sources, identifying the most potential value for clients and refining those contacts into the most relevant contact information and responsibilities within the company.

  • Keeping decay at bay requires not only a steady flow of inbound leads into your funnel (to replace the existing decay), but also a deep understanding of the contacts in your database and how they engage with your marketing (to stop further decay).

Related: The 5 to 5 Calling Rule for Inbound Leads (That Generated Over 40% Increase in Sales)

  • Once or twice a year (or quarterly, if you feel your prospects and clients don’t feel harassed) send an email request to customers and prospects that contain the information you have on them and their company. Request verification. Most individuals will correct their information if it’s inaccurate.
  • If you’re a small business with less than a thousand clients, you could have a team manually review your database once a year. It could visit every website, telephone every contact and cross match records with public databases. It would cost money and take time, but it’s possible.
  • Hire an Outbound Telemarketing firm. If your data have decayed badly, it may be cost-effective to hire an outbound telemarketing firm to verify, correct and add additional information. This is particularly cost-justified if you’re selling products or services that have a high dollar value.



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