Low Return on Marketing Automation? The Devil’s in the Data


Share on LinkedIn

According to The 2016 MarTech Data Report, which was based on responses from over 400 sales and marketing professionals, data issues are preventing companies from achieving the optimum return on investment for their marketing automation initiatives.

Apparently, marketers are not adopting advanced marketing techniques, such as lead nurturing, personalization, and customer profiling, at the rate many would expect. Four in 10 of those without marketing automation do not use any advanced techniques. But the real surprise is that even when marketers adopt marketing automation, 23% do not use any advanced marketing concepts.

In many cases, it turns out that marketers are not held back due to the lack of technology. The real problem is a lack of time. And there’s another twist. You would expect those who are living in a manual world, without marketing automation to feel more time pressure than those who have all the latest tools. However, only 28% of the “manual marketers” say they are not using advanced marketing techniques because they are crunched for time versus 45% of those with marketing automation.

What’s going on here?

When marketers adopt marketing automation, it magnifies the issue of having poor data. They realize the potential that is sitting at their fingertips with their new technology but see it wasting away because their data is out of shape.
So what data issues are blocking their progress?

The biggie is data hygiene. Almost half (49%) of those with marketing automation think that their data needs to be cleaned up. Database quality suffers because it includes the wrong data (55%) and is missing data (51%). Other issues include data decay, role formats, duplicates, information in the wrong fields and typos.

To use marketing automation to its full potential, segmenting data and personalizing communications, marketers need to have accurate, enriched data. If marketing automation is the sizzle, data is the steak. You can’t have one without the other.
How do you get your data in shape so you can maximize the rewards from today’s marketing automation systems? Take these steps.

Match and Merge

If you’re using multiple lists when you execute marketing campaigns, you can end up with a database nightmare. Instead of having a more robust campaign, you’re likely to find list overlap and variances. You’re better off combining all your lists into one complete resource that pulls together all the information about each contact.

Fortunately, there is software that allows you to match and merge records, putting all the information on each record in one place. Essentially, the software becomes a detective, doing the mind-numbing hard work for you. For example, it will notice that Sam Smith, Samuel Smith and Mr. Smith all live at the same street address and conclude that all three just might be the same person. It can consolidate them all into one record, and also to combine the data. In this way, it helps you to create a much stronger database.

Wipe out Duplicate Data

In the process of consolidating Sam Smith, Samuel Smith and Mr. Smith, you should eliminate two of the records. Removing duplicates saves you a lot of time and money because it prevents you from reaching out to the same individual several times. Not only is this expensive and time-consuming, but it can also be annoying to the contact.

Append Data

Given that about half of sales and marketing leaders say their database is missing data, there is an enormous opportunity for appending data. The first thing you need to do is to determine what information fields you need to add. For example, there may be fields that you have not used in the past, such as company revenues and industries, which you now need for segmentation purposes. Or, you may find that some records have this information and others don’t. In either case, you can benefit by appending data.

You don’t want to take this step, however, until you know that your current data is clean. Make sure, for example, that you have formatted state abbreviations correctly and consistently.

Make Some Calls

Advanced technology can go a long way to improving the quality of your data. However, you may still find that you are missing information you need. At this point, it’s worth using a more traditional tactic, picking up the phone and making calls to complete and correct contact details. In addition to getting your database up to snuff, you’ll likely be able to add more contacts to your database as you gather information. In one database enhancement project, we reached out to 16,000 organizations by phone and in the process netted 21,000 new contacts, 78% of whom had titles of director or above.

If you use these techniques to build a more robust database, you’ll be ready for advanced marketing tactics, such as segmentation and personalization, enabling you to maximize your return on your investment in technology.

Jeff Kalter
Jeff Kalter is CEO of 3D2B, a global business-to-business telemarketing company that bridges the divide between marketing and sales. He leads customer acquisition programs for Fortune 500 companies, and is passionate about building strong business relationships through professional phone conversations.


  1. Interesting article. What would you recommend for a small business for marketing automation? Is GetResponse good?


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here