One of the most frustrating issues in email marketing, duplicate data can be disastrous for lead generation. In short, duplication refers to data that is duplicated in any form, resulting in multiple records for a single lead or company.
Needless to say, marketing automation requires highly accurate data in order to be successful. When there is more than one email address, contact name, title or entry, what usually happens is that campaigns are sent to both entries. This has a knock-on effect that eventually leads to inaccurate results when the time comes to measure lead nurturing campaign success.
Duplicates are part of a bigger problem – dirty data. For now, we will be taking a closer look at the issue of duplicate data to show you just how much damage it can do to your lead generation campaigns.
Think about this situation for a moment...Bill stops by your booth at a conference, and, after your sales team scanned his badge, he is in your database. At this point, things can either proceed with Bill checking out your website and making contact with your sales team, or Bill getting lost in a sea of duplicate data entries. Just how easily can Bill get lost, you may wonder? More easily than you may think.
Let's say that the sales rep at your stand decided to follow up with Bill to chat about your products. Without realising that Bill has already been added to the system, he finds an outdated email address and adds Bill to the CRM. That means that there are now two Bills in the system – only one of these Bills has a valid email address.
It gets even more complicated when your marketing team sends out a thank you note after the event to all potential new leads, using Bill's original lead. Before he receives this email, however, Bill has gone through the brochure he picked up at your booth. He goes to your website and signs up for an upcoming webinar, using his personal email address. That means that there are now three Bills in the system, with three different email addresses.
Bill somehow misses the thank you email from the marketing team, but he receives the sales email from his recently changed email address, which is forwarded to his new email address. He schedules a demo, and he is updated in the system as a viable lead, under his second email address. But his other two email addresses are still in the system.
From here, a few challenges will arise:
New lead names will appear inaccurate. As three Bills have been added to the system, it will appear as though three new leads have been added, rather than a single lead with three different email addresses.
Pipeline and revenue attribution will appear inaccurate. Each Bill has a different lead contact – the sales team, marketing team and a brand new entry from Bill himself. Rather than being three new lead sources, Bill is, of course, just one lead, who should have originally been attributed to the sales team who took his details during the first introduction at the trade show.
Why Duplicates Kill Your Lead Generation Results
What makes it such a disaster to deal with three Bills? For starters, here are some of the things that can go wrong when it comes to duplicated lead generation entries.
Time and resources are wasted. Let's say that Bill 2 continues discussions with your sales department and everything seems to be going to plan. Bill then tells your sales team that he needs time to discuss your product with his team, suddenly going cold. Needless to say, your sales team are a bit concerned. Bill 3, meanwhile, has attended the webinar, spent a lot of time on your website and downloaded some free content. After forwarding an email to her team, others in the company also begin to download your content, which causes Bill 3 to request a free trial. The original sales rep Bill dealt with has no idea of any of this progress, instead, thinking the lead has gone cold. Eventually, Bill 3 is progressed to sales, with a different sales rep taking over and updating the lead record. Throughout all of this, three different sales reps have wasted time that could have been spent elsewhere.
Communication is inconsistent. Because there have been multiple communication efforts with what appears to be three separate leads, communication quickly becomes inconsistent. The sales team dealing with Bill 1, 2 and 3 are all at different stages of the lead funnel, with very different messages. To Bill, who is blissfully unaware, the result is a disjointed, inconsistent communication across three different email addresses. Bill will very quickly start to get frustrated, assuming that he is being spammed or that he is dealing with people who do not know what they are doing. As a result, your company's reputation will take a dent, along with your trust. Even if Bill's duplicate email addresses are eventually merged, the damage may already have been done.
Communication is excessive. Bill is essentially in two or three different stages in the sales pipeline. That means that there are very different messages being sent to him, and likely, he is getting a lot of communication. Even if emails are coming to three different email addresses, Bill will still feel as though he is being spammed. Once again, the result is annoyance, which yet again results in a potentially damaged reputation. Bill will very quickly unsubscribe from all three email series, which effectively means that he is lost as a lead.
The Real Cost of Duplicates in Lead Generation
We know that duplicates waste time, risk reputation and jeopardise conversion. What is the biggest cost of duplicate data when it comes to lead generation, however?
By far the biggest issue is the role that duplicate data plays in your marketing data health. Marketing automation can only truly work when data is clean and reliable. When you have duplicate data in your system, it puts the entire system at risk. The larger your business grows, the larger your databases grow. While it is a good start to manually check for duplicates on a regular basis, it quickly becomes difficult to do so as your systems and databases grow. That means that you need a clear strategy in place to prevent and resolve duplicate entries.
It is essential to invest time into your data cleanup efforts so that you are able to automate and streamline your databases. Perfecting your processes to handle data migration and prevent duplicate entries is important. It also helps to approach strategies such as rented cold lists and bought lists with caution. Ensuring that your data fields are set up correctly will help. You could also consider data cleaning tools, scheduled cleanups and other strategies.
It is never too late to clean up your data. If you do not put any thought or effort into keeping your data free of duplicates, you run the risk of putting your entire campaigns at risk.