5min read

What is the Real Cost of Bad Data?

by Dan Moyle | January 8, 2020 at 10:32 AM

Imagine setting up an email that you know will turn into real revenue. You spend hours on the most compelling copy. You have a designer create the most eye-catching call to action. You plan out the perfect time and even spread out the send so it covers multiple time zones. 

You got this. 🚀

Then as soon as it sends, you see your spam score spike, bounces increase and an open rate that falls through the floor. 

What. Happened. ⁉️🤷🏽

Upon investigation and reflection, you realize that bad data has struck again. 🤦🏽

Several accounts had opted out of emails from one address but not the other. Duplicate records mean you’re sending the same email to the same person under different email accounts. 

You notice some email addresses were just plain wrong. 

Some emails are dead in the water because the names aren’t capitalized so your personalization looks automated. 

Bad data strikes again. And it’s costing you. 😡

Besides the annoyance and the shame you feel when you have to report your low results to your team, you now have real costs associated with dirty data. 

But do you know what that real cost of bad data really is? 

The Real Cost of Bad Data

Bad data isn’t just annoying. It’s costly. From time to emotional well-being to actual cash, when your data isn’t clean and aligned, you’re losing out. 

The real cost of data comes down to three costs: time, money and sanity. And it crosses departments in the sales and marketing world. 

Bad Data Cost 1: Time

Marketing and sales both suffer a loss in time when you have bad data. 

In marketing, dirty data means you’re wasting time creating great marketing but missing the mark.

What if you create a great campaign to reach current contacts with a new offering that you know will change their world… but your database is inconsistent in who is marked as a contact, lead, marketing qualified lead or opportunity? 

You can create the best, most helpful emails that walk your opportunities through the journey. But if they never receive them, or if current customers get them and wonder if you even know them, you’re sunk.

All that time researching and creating, lost to bad data. 

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Your sales team’s time is also valuable. When they’re working with terrible data, they’re wasting time on bad phone numbers, incorrect email addresses and more.

A sales team sending messages that miss the mark because their data on who the business gatekeeper is means they’re wasting their time “talking” into an abyss.

Or if your sales team spends their days cleaning up all that inconsistent and incorrect data, they aren’t selling. That’s bad for business!

How much is time worth at your company? The real cost of bad data adds up when all that time is wasted.

Bad Data Cost 2: Money

Time is money. So clearly bad data costs you money. 

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But in addition to that obvious correlation, it costs your business real capital, too.

In marketing, dirty data like duplicate records and incorrect email address formatting can cost you money. It leads to poor email sending scores and cna cut off your communication with potential customers.

If you can’t reach your audience, you’re leaving all kinds of money on the table. 

Plus, as you saw above (and as you hopefully know anyway), if sales isn’t selling, your business isn’t making money. 

Would you rather have a sales team working on revenue-generating work or cleaning up phone records, combining contacts into accounts/business categories and other administrative tasks? 

What’s an hour of your top sales person’s time worth? How much revenue do they generate? 

Now take that same hour and put them in front of a database or spreadsheet fixing clerical errors and data problems. What’s more valuable? 

Bad Data Cost 3: Sanity

Richard Branson is known for saying that the number one priority of a business is the employee.

richard-branson-employees-come-first

Do you want to keep your team members sane and productive? Then it’s time to clean your data.

For the marketing team, it comes down to fulfilling work. Creating content that’s not read because bad data has cut off your legs can drive a marketer crazy. 

Cleaning up data so communications go where they need when the time is right will ensure you’ll have marketers ready to create again and again. Sane team members.

Over in sales, it’s all about making numbers and staying in a lane. Administrative tasks, bad email addresses, wasted time and wrong phone numbers is enough to drive any sales professional nuts. 

While you can’t directly measure the cost of insanity, you can definitely see where keeping your sales team focused on what matters to their numbers can keep them more productive. 

Time to Fix Your Bad Data Problem

Experts estimate the cost of bad data at about $10 trillion to $14 trillion each year. 

That’s a huge number and probably doesn’t mean squat to you. 

Other research puts a figure of $100 per bad record on dirty data. How many contacts are in your database? If 20% of them are bad, that adds up quickly. 

A database of 10,000 contacts would have 2,000 bad contacts. That’s a $20,000 hit each year to your bottom line. 

What now? What can you do right now to get healthier data?

Your first step to take should be: identify the sources of dirty data in your database. That way you can prevent inaccurate or duplicate data from piling up. We're big fans of using a tool like Insycle to help make this process easier so that it’s not a tedious manual process.

Want to educate yourself more about data cleaning? Here are a couple of resources:

If you need help cleaning up your database and implementing a strong data management process, learn about our data cleaning services and let’s get you on the road to making better, more informed decisions that lead to greater ROI from your marketing efforts.

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Money/map photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash