data hygiene problems

According to a report from PwC and Iron Mountain, “only 4% of businesses can extract full value from the information they hold.” You wouldn’t believe how much of your marketing data is impaired, if not completely unusable, due to data integrity issues. Data hygiene is an ongoing process if your company hopes to benefit from data-driven marketing. However, if your only data governance step is to regularly “clean” data, you are missing the root of your data hygiene problems.

Most companies no longer buy lead data. With the rise of inbound marketing, leads are generated through web forms. This point where a visitor is converted into a lead is the most important step for data hygiene.

According to IBM, poor data quality costs the US economy $3.1 trillion per year. If your marketing data governance doesn’t start at lead generation, any form inconsistencies could be limiting your ability to leverage data for marketing automation, account based marketing, sales enablement and segmentation and ultimately cost your company significantly.

Symptoms and Costs of Form Inconsistencies

With web forms becoming the most important source of lead data, any data integrity issues that occur during lead capture will impact your entire data-driven marketing strategy. Unfortunately, 40% of marketers agree their customer data is not actionable.

The main issues with data integrity arise when data comes from forms that ask different questions, when form data isn’t normalized and when attribution data isn’t collected at the point of conversion. For example, if one lead lists their country as “U.S.”, another writes “United States” and a third is recorded as “USA,” none of this information can be used in your marketing.

If you have data hygiene problems (not clean and consistent), it won’t be actionable for:

  • Segmentation
  • Retargeting
  • Nurturing
  • Lead Scoring
  • Account Based Marketing
  • Handoff to Sales
  • Reporting
  • Any marketing that relies on lead data

If you aren’t using normalized data and any of the above marketing strategies rely on lead data such as company, vertical, location or other information, leads could easily fall through the cracks. This makes marketing automation completely unreliable and brings your company back to manual segmentations, blast emails and creating new lists for every message or campaign. Not only does this add extra work for your sales and marketing teams, these manual tasks remove your company’s ability to scale.

To prevent these costs, here are the three biggest mistakes companies make with lead generation forms, how they lead to data hygiene problems and how your organization can fix them:

Inconsistent Form Fields and Questions

For many organizations without a clear marketing data governance strategy, forms are created as they are needed with little thought to past campaigns or the company’s overall data measurement. When marketers from different departments or regions have the freedom to create their own form fields and questions, your CRM and marketing automation solutions are quickly filled with hundreds of custom fields, duplicate fields and open text fields without any structure.

A simple web form question such as the company a lead works for can easily lead to data hygiene problems. If three different forms ask the question but use different form fields such as “Company”, “Organization” and “Business Name”, it becomes difficult to segment your entire lead database using any of these fields.

Lead Data Isn’t Normalized

Normalized data is required for any information that could be segmented at a later point or used for automation.

While inconsistent form fields represent a significant challenge for marketing data governance, they aren’t impossible to overcome. However, if any of these fields are a text field, you could get a variety of responses from people at the same company such as “ABC Corp”, “ABC” and “ABC Corporation”. These fields are now impossible to segment automatically and become completely useless.

International companies run into further difficulties normalizing and segmenting data when forms are submitted in different languages.

Fields such as industries, job titles, product of interest and company can be difficult to normalize unless all forms use consistent form fields with dropdowns that normalize data automatically. Form integrations such as DemandBase and Google Places can help create fields that automatically populate lead records with normalized data and company records.

Not Capturing Measurement and Reporting Metadata

One of the most important questions your lead reporting will answer is what causes visitors to convert. Metadata that records the lead source of every visitor and any prior engagement before the conversion is critical for optimizing lead generation.

If this source attribution data is not measured and collected at the point of conversion it is lost forever. Inconsistencies in measuring the conversion process will also prevent you from reporting on it in the future.

Forms and web tracking across all your mediums should be set up to collect:

  • UTM Values: Information on the campaign, medium and source the lead came from is the absolute minimum to help measure the success of your campaigns and channels.
  • Search Terms and Content: For organic and paid search traffic, recording the search terms that brought leads to your site will help with SEO and advertising strategies.
  • All Touches and Engagement: It often takes a few engagements before a lead converts. Recording all content a visitor engaged with from their unique IP and attributing that to a specific lead once they convert provides valuable lead data.

Maintaining Form Consistency and Data Hygiene

Most of the mistakes listed above can be attributed to a lack of consistency across your marketing teams. Whether your teams are segmented by product, industry or region, 42% of marketers strongly agree that organizational silos negatively impact the quality of marketing insights. However, controlling everything through your central marketing department limits the flexibility and agility of your individual marketing teams.

The solution is to use a tool that optimizes and integrates contact conversion solutions automatically, gives universal control to your central marketing department and still allows your marketing teams to customize within those constraints to maintain top data hygiene. makes it simple to create consistent forms and strong form governance that lead to standardized marketing data across your entire organization. For enterprises ready to scale their marketing and build a data-driven organization, is crucial for collecting the most reliable data and utilizing it in your sales and marketing automation.

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