Is Dirty Data Costing You Money?

Dirty data is customer data that is inaccurate, redundant, or incomplete, and it is the scourge of big data marketing. However well thought-out your marketing campaign is, it can't achieve its goals if decision-making is based on dirty data. If you have to manually intervene in your data to be able to get any useful insights from it, you can conclude you have dirty data.

Bad data works its way into databases in any number of ways. Time itself corrupts a significant amount of data, because customers change jobs, move, or change phone numbers. In fact, you can count on about 2% of your data going bad during a given month. Additionally, when departments lock up their data in silos, incomplete customer profiles can result, and sometimes third parties don't check data for quality before providing it to marketers.

How Dirty Data Costs Money

Problems with data quality cost US businesses an estimated $600 billion a year, according to the Data Warehousing Institute, and this may be an understatement. It's easy to see how marketing and lead generation are directly affected by dirty data, but things like finance and customer relationships are affected too. When you rely on marketing data that's incomplete, inaccurate, or redundant, decisions are bound to be faulty. You'll market to the wrong people or attempt to deliver marketing information that never reaches its target. When customer relationship management (CRM) databases contain faulty information, customer relationships suffer. It's the classic "garbage in, garbage out" scenario.

Consequences of Using Dirty Data

When big data marketing operates on dirty data, money is misspent and labor is misapplied. The productivity of marketing teams drops because they're pursuing inaccurate leads, resulting in multiplication of effort, which costs money. Duplicate records with inconsistent information put marketers in the position of either marketing to both or selecting one and hoping the information is sufficiently correct to make contact. Bounced emails, wasted direct mail resources, and wasted time are three consequences of using dirty data, and eventually this has an impact on your company's credibility.

Dirty Data Is Bad for Your Company's Reputation

If you roll out a big data marketing campaign without ensuring the quality of the data used in it, your company's reputation can suffer. Your IP addresses could be blacklisted, angry customers may perceive your actions as spammy, and low quality of communications can damage your brand. When your emails are caught in spam traps or flagged, you can count on high unsubscribe rates, and you may be perceived as a spammer even if you're not. Furthermore, the emails that do get through may have lower open rates. The cost to repair and rehabilitate your reputation is around $0.15 per record, which really adds up in a big data environment.

Clean, Enriched Data Is the Answer

Before any big data marketing initiative, you need to have controls in place to ensure that the data you use is clean. It should be free of duplicates, as complete as possible, and as accurate as possible. Providers like ReachForce understand the cost of dirty data and are in the business of cleansing data so that marketing initiatives achieve maximum success. With continuous data cleansing, you won't worry about data going bad with time. Data enrichment helps eliminate holes in your marketing data. And data unification does away with data silos that prevent companies from making the most informed decisions based on a 360-degree view of the customer.


Data hygiene should be a top concern for marketing professionals. Devoting some resources to ensuring that the data you're basing decisions on is complete and accurate is a smart investment, because dirty data is costly in so many ways. To get the most and best use out of your data, you need to take the time to ensure its quality is sufficient and that data used by different departments is integrated. This gives you the most complete and precise customer view, so you can make smarter decisions and maximize your marketing return on investment.

ReachForce helps marketers increase revenue contribution by solving some of their toughest data management problems.  We understand the challenges of results-driven marketers and provide solutions to make initiatives like marketing automation, personalization and predictive marketing better.  Whether you have an acute pain to solve today or prefer to grow your capabilities over time, ReachForce can unify, clean and enrich prospect and customer lifecycle data in your business, and do it at your own pace.

To learn more about how ReachForce can help you optimize demand generation and your impact on revenue, check out SmartForms, our real-time web form enrichment solution, or request a free marketing data health assessment. Get the power to let data drive marketing and higher performance.

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