How do you update contact data?

Our data represents our relationships. A recent study by the Sales and Marketing Institute showed, “70.8% of all business people change one or more elements on their business cards each year.” If you’re in a relationship-driven business, you probably know this already. So what can you do about it?

How to update contact data?
The best way I know of (and the one most list providers use) is phone verification. This is the gold standard for updating contact level data. I have 1 full-time person whose job is to personally call and update our 4500 contacts. Based on my sales team’s feedback this keeps our contact database around 85% to 90% accurate. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to have 100% accuracy.

Phone verification best practices
When we call we always make sure we have something of value to share a free report, webinar invitation or case study. I want our contacts will appreciate getting a call from us.

It must be value-based. An unexpected benefit of using the phone to update our list is new business. We’re showing we’re interested in what’s going on in their business and we’re taking the time to cultivate a relationship.
Finally, we supplement our database with D&B information but still rely on the phone to confirm and verify that information.

Email bounce backs
Assuming you don’t have the resources to call your entire database here’s another tip if you regularly email your database (opt-in of course). Pay attention to the bounce backs. I use email bounce backs as an indicator of contact changes. If you use a service to send your e-newsletters, for example, you should have access to this data. When an email bounces back I’ve found it usually indicates one of 3 things:

1. They changed their email address
2. They are no longer with that company
3. They have a SPAM filter than bounced your email back

I flag the bounce backs and have a system that matches each email bounce back to the appropriate contact in our CRM. This allows us to easily flag the out of date contacts for a follow-up phone call.

What not to do
I don’t appreciate impersonal tactics. I dislike it when people use a service that sends me an email that requires me to update my contact info… I got so fed up with PLAXO requests that I finally joined but it really doesn’t give me any value in exchange for my time.

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