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How to Prevent Data Decay From Ruining Your CRM System

Jonathan Herrick
Updated Sep 01, 2022

Customer data deteriorates rapidly. Ensure your customer information stays fresh.

It’s natural to trust your CRM system to provide you with valuable insights on prospects and customers. However, data decay is a massive problem that can cause a drop in sales and customers, increased employee turnover, and discord among management and staff. 

A whopping 95% of survey respondents reported that CRM data quality issues hinder their ability to use their CRM system effectively, and 44% of those surveyed by Validity say their company loses over 10% in annual revenue due to CRM data decay. Respondents estimate that their CRM data will continue to decay by 34% annually without significant improvements.

The effectiveness of a business’s CRM solution is dependent on its data’s accuracy and freshness. We’ll explore data decay and its ramifications and share strategies for preventing CRM data decay and prioritizing data quality.

Did you know?Did you know? The pandemic increased the rate of CRM data decay as employees quit and remote works plans proliferated. Titles and contact information changed rapidly, causing CRM contact data to go stale.

What is data decay?

Data decay happens when the information you have is no longer viable for determining a healthy prospect. These are some of the issues with poor data quality: 

  • Missing or incomplete data
  • Incorrect data
  • Duplicate data
  • Expired data
  • Data for prospects who have aged out 
  • Data from unreliable sources

When your sales team reaches out to prospects based on poor-quality, decayed data, they’ll run into dead ends and wasted time. They may end up contacting prospects who have forgotten about your products or services, aren’t interested in whatever you’re selling, or aren’t at the right point in their customer journey to be convinced. 

Data decay vs. inactive leads

Data decay isn’t just about having inactive leads. In fact, inactive leads can be a virtual gold mine for your marketing and sales team if handled correctly. When they’re still qualified, inactive leads offer businesses a second chance – a rare but valuable resource. 

To effectively reach inactive prospects, it’s crucial that your CRM system has their up-to-date, accurate data. Additionally, you can’t reach out with the same old value proposition and expect to yield new results. You never know how someone’s business has changed over the course of a few months or years.

With proper customer tracking, your data should tell you why the leads are inactive so you can craft your messaging in a way that reignites interest and addresses any concerns present the first time around. Automated marketing and smart messaging are ways to stoke the fires of an inactive prospect and reboot the relationship.

TipTip: The best CRM software helps you understand what your prospects need and shows details from when your team last connected with them, reducing data deterioration.

How does data decay hurt your business? 

According to Validity’s CRM report, data decay adversely affects businesses in the following ways: 

  • Lost current customers. Data decay often creates duplicate or inadequate sales and marketing efforts; 75% of respondents said these wasted efforts cost their company customers.
  • Lost new sales. Low-quality CRM data causes sales teams to lose out on new sales, according to 50% of respondents. Degraded data hurts your ability to successfully convert leads.
  • Lost revenue. Poor-quality CRM data is responsible for a 10% annual revenue loss, according to 44% of respondents.
  • Abandoned sales and marketing efforts. Organizations abandon potentially valuable initiatives due to CRM data decay, according to 69% of respondents. For example, marketing campaigns, sales processes, brand awareness initiatives, customer service initiatives, and more are delayed or halted due to poor-quality CRM data.
  • Fabricated data. When the real data isn’t telling the “right” story, 75% of respondents say they’ll fabricate data to show what decision-makers want to hear. What’s worse, 82% say they’re often told to find data that supports a story rather than provide accurate data.
  • Higher employee turnover. If CRM data is poor, employees can’t do their jobs; 64% say they’d consider leaving their jobs if the organization didn’t put effort into a CRM data-quality plan.
  • Damaged relationships. Poor-quality CRM data can negatively impact employee relationships; 76% say CRM data decay creates tensions between marketing departments and those responsible for CRM maintenance. 

How can you prevent data decay?

Here are a few ways to ensure that your customer information stays fresh and your customers stay engaged through your CRM software. 

1. Ask your prospects for less information.

Minimize your customers’ workload. High expectations are great for corporate culture or classroom teachers, but they’re awful for customer landing pages. Lower your expectations, and your customers are more likely to meet them.

In practice, that means asking fewer questions and requiring less information from prospects. Email addresses and contact information are the quickly rotting fruit of the data world. Instead of asking customers to fill out fields of information that will soon be outdated, let your software do more of the work. With the right software settings, you only need to ask for the most basic, shelf-stable information and drop a cookie to gather more specific information later.

The less information your prospect has to part with, the lower the barrier to providing that information, and the less likely it will be that the information will be entered incorrectly and rot immediately.

2. Reach out to your prospects with succinct emails. 

Office workers may receive hundreds of emails daily. With such overwhelming content and limited time, your prospects are likely skimming your information instead of reading it in-depth. 

To boost your odds of prospects reading and responding to your marketing emails, and therefore gathering relevant data, keep your emails short and to the point and use concise subject lines of four words or less. 

Use the same caution in your email frequency. If you constantly reach out by sending generic, long-winded emails or just pitch a sale over and over, you’re driving a nail into the coffin. Be straightforward, and don’t be a pest. If you bombard your prospect with lengthy emails, you’re begging to be ignored or marked as spam.

3. Be clear about how your offering can solve prospects’ problems. 

While your sales message must be brief, it must also be clear. You must tell prospects exactly how your offering will make their lives easier. Apple took this approach to sell its products with headlines like “Why is iPhone so fast?” The company goes on to tell potential customers 

how the iPhone is the only product with the battery life they need or the camera resolution they crave.

The challenge is to clarify what makes your product uniquely positioned to solve a potential customer’s problem and then push that message. Address concerns and objections head-on, and present your clear value proposition by answering this question: Why is your business better suited than your competitors to help prospects overcome those obstacles?

With a clear value proposition, you’ll generate more leads and attract genuinely interested prospects. 

TipTip: Use customer surveys to ask leads about the problems they’re currently experiencing. A survey shows you care about their needs and will listen to and address their problems.

4. Invest in data-quality initiatives.

To ensure your business’s data quality is high, take the following steps: 

  • Get management buy-in. Ensure your organization’s leadership team prioritizes data management and will support data-quality initiatives. 
  • Hire a CRM data guardian. Consider hiring a full-time employee responsible for CRM data quality. 
  • Create a data management team. Since data quality benefits the entire organization, assemble a data management team with representatives from sales, IT, marketing and operations. 
  • Automate data management. Manual data input is vulnerable to errors. Automating data management can help safeguard data integrity

No one likes bad data. Prioritizing thoughtful data capture when forming client relationships and strategic messaging can preserve the health of your CRM system and your bottom line.

Kimberlee Leonard contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.

Image Credit: Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock
Jonathan Herrick
Jonathan Herrick is co-founder, chief sales officer, chief marketing officer, and chief high-fiver of Hatchbuck, an all-in-one sales and marketing platform. His extensive experience in digital marketing and sales strategies has been a driving factor in growing Hatchbuck’s sales by over 2,000 percent. Prior to Hatchbuck, Jonathan developed inbound marketing strategies and leveraged marketing automation to grow market share and reach record user growth for SaaS recruiting platform Sendouts. A purpose-driven leader in all aspects, Jonathan has a passion for cultivating his team’s culture, spending time with his family, and working to make a difference in the St. Louis community. You can get acquainted with Jonathan’s thought leadership on the Hatchbuck blog and in leading publications including Forbes, Inc., Mashable, and the Huffington Post.