Hygiene for Data Decay: Focus on Your Top Contacts First

Invisibly, under your nose, your firm’s contact data is constantly decaying.

People change jobs, get transferred or promoted, move companies, retire, join or leave boards. Changes like these happen daily, and keeping up with them across a firm’s entire contact base is a Herculean task. In fact, data consultancy Informatica found that contact data decays by at least 30 percent every year. In B2B markets, sectors with high job turnover can see contact data decay rates as high as 70% per year.  For a database of 20,000 contacts, that could amount to 14,000 unusable pieces of contact information.

Many law firms rely on their CRM users to keep contact data clean and up to date. After all, lawyers know their clients best, and in theory, integrating the CRM with lawyers’ Outlook accounts will support cleaner data. But anyone who has experience with these systems knows that the theory doesn’t always work out in practice. The reality is that inconsistent, inaccurate and conflicting edits continue to wreak havoc on valuable client and prospect information. Investment in data stewardship and hygiene is still required.

Some firms are addressing the data decay problem in another way – by outsourcing some of it to third party experts.

These firms recognize that their most valuable contacts can be identified by their business roles. For example, major law firms typically target General Counsels, C-suite and Board members of public and large private companies. Accurate contact information on these decision-maker roles is available through public filings, transaction databases corporate websites and other sources.

And fortunately for us, several third-party information providers (Boardex and Relationship Science are two examples) have already done the hard work of scanning these data sources to compile and maintain accurate data on these roles.

Here’s a case study: One regional firm had a CRM database that included over 75,000 active contacts. The firm worked with a third-party provider to match its own CRM contacts with those in the provider’s database. The initial concordance process flagged over 5,000 matches, and also identified new relationships between these C-suite contacts and the firm’s partners.

The firm then worked with the provider to develop an information feed between the provider’s database and the firm’s CRM. Now, when a matched contact changes companies, gets a new job title, joins a new board or resigns a current directorship, that change is flagged in the provider’s database and synchronized to the firm’s CRM.

Investment was needed to get there, but the firm saw a payoff: a significant increase in the accuracy of the firm’s data for its most important contacts, and a significant reduction in work for the marketing team who were responsible for this contact data.

Marketing initiatives are only as effective as the lists you use to promote them. If you’re facing the contact decay problem, consider focusing on your most valuable contacts first – and work with an expert to help you maintain them.