Starting with an accurate, complete and targeted pool of business contacts is key to the success of every marketing campaign. Yet CRM systems and in-house contact databases are most often bogged down with dead records, duplicate data, partial files and gaps.
Beginning with a flawed data foundation decreases opportunities for success while slowing down or impeding the efforts of sales and marketing teams. And with the rising cost of mailings paired with lower response rates, today’s marketers have little room for poorly targeted prospects or incorrect addresses.
As organizations invest significant money and resources in CRM systems, it is important to remember that these systems are only as effective as the quality of the data, and companies often face more headaches than help.
As information technologies evolve, a business-critical need is emerging for efficient, cost-effective methods to maintain complete, up-to-date and, most of all, accurate records. Why not consider Web applications as an alternative solution? These services can offer an affordable path to increased efficiencies and also engage teams and companies in the process.
While the conversation surrounding user-generated content focuses on viral videos and social networking, one of the major business values of crowd-sourcing is the difficult task of gathering data, of which the cost of maintenance and updating using traditional in-house methods far exceeds the cost of creation. This is true both in the case of consumer-oriented information (think Wikipedia) and business information (company and contact databases). A Web 2.0 business with a self-organizing system of user-generated content can produce a greater volume of data more accurately and at a fraction of the cost incurred by traditional information sources.
Businesses must learn how to capitalize on the substantial direct marketing opportunity afforded by the collaboration and sharing of information via the Web — particularly for identifying and maintaining prospects. Internet-based business contact data is now readily accessible and affordable. And this data can be easily integrated into existing CRM databases or in-house systems, making it simple to refresh outdated information, augment contacts with additional data or rid themselves of dead records. Furthermore, by leveraging the Web’s “wisdom of the crowds,” companies have access to a massive community of data collectors and caretakers. Data is robust, accurate, on-demand and transferable.
Soon it will be possible for companies to redirect the energy they’re spending on faulty data management systems and focus more effort on their specific core competencies. By leveraging advances in technology, companies can transform their data from an aggravation into a competitive advantage. If they don’t, the competition will.
Jim Fowler is the CEO and co-founder of Jigsaw. Reach him at [email protected].