Is Anybody Responsible for the Health of Your Customer Contact Database?

February 29, 2024

The foundation of any customer marketing and advocacy program is your customer database. According to Marketing Sherpa, every month 2% of it decays. In the four customer marketing practices I initiated, a key early task was cleaning up the database and making it much more effective than it was.

Issues include outdated and inaccurate information, misspellings, duplicates, blank fields, poor geo location, and the wrong information type—such as the email address in the title field. This results in the inability to properly segment, decreased open rates, and increased opt-out rates.

We recently conducted a survey of customer marketing professionals.

The results were not good! We asked, “How would you describe the health of your customer contact database”?

0%       Excellent
20%     Very good
48%     Ok
24%     Not so good
8%       Poor

Respondents wrote: “Keeps me awake at night and the mistakes are embarrassing” and “Customer data hygiene (or lack thereof, actually) has been a consistent theme across all of the positions I’ve held in the last 8 years”.

These are your customers, and this can’t be acceptable. If your database was in better shape, would you be able to:

  • Identify former customer contacts and convert them to warm leads?
  • Upsell more effectively?
  • Decrease your GDPR and state email privacy compliance risk?
  • Increase attendance at your in-person events?

The survey also asked, “Whose responsibility is it to keep the database as accurate as possible”?

40%      Marketing ops
20%      Customer success
20%      Multiple groups
9%        Don’t know or nobody
8%        Sales Ops
0%        Customer marketing

Is anybody responsible for the health of your customer contact database?

Marketing Ops, Customer Success, Sales, or Customer Marketing?

At most companies, various silos have a piece of the puzzle. Nobody is looking at the big picture and the customer data continues to decay. Generally,

  • Marketing Ops is focused on the prospect database. They maintain the structure of the customer database, but not the actual data.
  • Customer Success manually updates information for their VIP contacts, but data hygiene is not a KPI.
  • Sales adds contacts during pre-sales, and this is usually the messiest.
  • Customer Marketing is focused on acts of advocacy and defers to others.

Customer Marketing is in the unique position to lean into updating contact data, which can move the health of your database up a notch. Working with Customer Success and Marketing Ops, determine which data points are important and manageable. Then, monthly for some data and quarterly for others, run a report in Excel. Either manually make a few changes in your CRM or make the updates in the spreadsheet for Marketing Ops to bulk upload.

Customer Marketing sometimes struggles to show value. By doing this, you will gain credibility and may build up the capital to suggest some of the more structural changes needed to communicate more effectively with customers. By spending time with the database, you will become better and better at understanding the subtleties of your accounts and segmenting the list so that the right customer receives the right message at the right time.

Want to go deeper? I have developed a Customer Contact Database Health Assessment. It is an analysis with a benchmark score that includes short and long-term recommendations to improve the management and effectiveness of your database.

For more information please contact the Advocacy Mavens Coalition.

Is anybody responsible for the health of your customer contact database?

This is a guest blog by Irwin Hipsman, member of the Advocacy Mavens Coalition.

The Advocacy Mavens Coalition is an association of open for contracting customer-led professionals, each with extensive industry experience. We’re experts in building advocacy and community programs, designing experiences, running advisory boards, creating content, managing and migrating platforms, and more.

Our members are experienced advocacy marketing strategists, community and customer success managers, educators, designers, video producers, analysts, and technical consultants. Whatever your program goals, this coalition has you covered!

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