Contributor: Brenda Barrelle
As a B2B marketer, your marketing automation platform (MAP) is your lifeblood. It’s where you store your customer and prospect data, run your campaigns, and measure your results. However, over time, your MAP can become cluttered with old data and inactive contacts, which can negatively impact a number of things including your deliverability score and ultimately your return on investment (ROI). To ensure your MAP is working at its best, we recommend conducting a spring cleaning at least once a year. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Identify inactive contacts: Inactive contacts are those who haven’t engaged with your marketing campaigns (or separately with any of your tracked digital properties) in a defined period of time. Review your database and identify those contacts - a key consideration here is to find the answer to the question "what is an inactive contact (to us)?" Depending on the results, you have several options to consider next - not just removal, but potentially launching a win-back campaign or even accelerating (or perhaps fully reviewing) your current contact acquisition strategy to lesson the potential impact to your targeted audiences.
Pro tip: Do the inactive contact analysis - is it 12 months, 18 months, longer? Does it vary by geo, product line, or another factor? It's worth spending the time to have a data-driven response to the question from your campaign managers "why do I have 2,000/20,000/200,000 less contacts in my campaign?"
Clean out your contacts: Where's the best place to start? You can typically score a "quick win"* by removing global hard bounces and global unsubscribes. These records can negatively impact your targeting, campaign performance, and reporting results. How? Most visibly, they inflate the numbers in each of these areas, which because they can't engage makes your results appear worse than they should. For example, if you're targeting 500,000 contacts in an email campaign and 25% of them are global hard bounces/unsubscribes, that's 125,000 contacts showing up in your dashboards that cannot engage. This does negatively impact any results you're reporting, and can even send you down a "what's not working in my campaign" rabbit hole - when in fact, it's your data that's playing a big factor.
Pro tip: Removing contacts from your MAP that you're not able to engage via email can also potentially help you save money, as some vendor contract pricing is based on the number of contacts.
*We call this a quick win because the first pass is easy to complete, however, you do need to have a process in place to prevent the deleted records from being dumped back in to your MAP - the most likely source here is typically your integrated CRM. There are other things to consider as well, so feel free to contact us to learn more.
Clean up your contacts: Native data standardization functionality - an app or other - can help you clean and standardize your contact data, ensuring it's as accurate as possible. For example, most of us standardize Country fields values - that's simple enough - but you can do more. For example, you can standardize Title or even programmatically create a Title value based on a captured role/level value combination. This will help build queries that better match your ICP, improving the value of your campaigns. Bottom line? By minimizing data errors, you improve your campaign performance and reporting results.
Pro tip: Before paying for a new tool to clean up your contacts, fully explore what your MAP can do to help. Some of this functionality may not be obvious - and may require a more data-driven mindset than some on your team may have - but we always recommend vetting out your current tool before buying a new one. To save time, vet it against your real use cases - this helps you to prioritize your time (ie, if the tool doesn't meet your second highest use case, then it may not make a difference it it meets the others). Just a thought.
Target inactive contacts: Creating queries for inactive contacts can help you target these contacts with a win-back campaign or simply remove them from your database. Some examples of oldie but goodie win-back campaigns include the "we miss you" email, the "incentive" email, the "feedback request" email, or perhaps you'll need to go with the "goodbye" email. Consider this a jumping off point to get you started, and feel free to contact us with any questions.
Pro tip: Download and securely store all key contact data before purging inactive contacts, in case you need to reference the data in the future.
To wrap it up, there's no question that these MAP spring cleaning tips can help you in a number of ways - so now it's up to you to get started. One more pro tip? Plan the time to benchmark where you are before you get started, where you are at key milestones, and where you when you complete your spring cleaning. Don't make the mistake of undervaluing the importance of your spring cleaning efforts!
Our team at Sojourn can help you with any/all of the MAP spring cleaning tips above! Learn more about our Marketing Data & Analytics Services, or feel free to contact us for help with Oracle Eloqua, Adobe Marketo Engage, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, or SFMC Account Engagement.