Eat or Be Eaten: Battling Dirty Data During The Pandemic

Information is power, or, more accurately, without information you are powerless. All of our senses collect information to allow us to make life-or-death decisions. Without this information, we are no more than a chicken nugget in need of ketchup.

Businesses are similar. They need information to know what direction to go, what life-and-death decisions to make. There are two types of information in this analogy: Information that keeps you from going off a cliff or being eaten, and information that helps you eat.

With COVID-19, many businesses are finding uncertainty in both areas. First, you have to make sure you’re not going off a cliff, then you’ve got to eat. Eating, that’s where direct marketing data comes into play. Business need leads for the sales team to close.

You know how everything has changed for you during the pandemic? Well, everyone else has absorbed changes too. This includes companies providing lists of contact information for direct marketing. You have pivoted your business to steer clear of that cliff, but you still need to eat and the food chain has been decimated.

Consumers are still consumers, but in B2B marketing there are key data changes.  Whether you’ve had to pivot your target audience or not, these changes are important. If your sales and marketing teams are working from 2019 contact information, you’re in trouble. Even if your target audience hasn’t changed, and that’s a big if, its contact information has.

An astounding number of businesses closed their doors permanently in 2020, and many more are temporarily closed.  Nearly 100,000 businesses closed permanently as of September 2020, Fortune reports. If you’re working from 2019 information, an unacceptable percent of that data has gone bad and is wasting resources of sales and marketing. Pre-COVID-19, you could expect 3 percent of direct marketing data to go bad every month. That is the equivalent of almost 30 percent a year...and that’s before COVID-19.

Changes for You and Everyone Else

For companies still in business, there have been drastic changes to individual contact information during the last 12 months. The number of people working remotely since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic jumped from 3.4 percent to 42 percent.  These are people who are still working. It is likely the phone number and address information you have for them is no longer useful. You need new information if you’re going to eat.

So you need new information, but even companies that provide direct marketing information are facing the same challenges. As noted above, data companies expect a turnover of 3 percent per month. So, if you’re going to buy targeted contact information from a data provider, make sure to check samples extra carefully. And then check again once you receive the data.

It’s also a good idea to ask any data provider how it has adjusted to keep its data accurate since COVID-19.  The last thing you want to do is pivot your company then get bad information on your new target audience.

Sky Cassidy is CEO of MountainTop Data and co-host of the If You Market podcast