What Data Enrichment Really Is (and Isn’t)

We submitted a proposal to a client who was working on a data governance policy for their CRM. Our Always-On CRM interested them as it would help them implement necessary data changes.

We were informed that they liked our proposal and what we were offering, but another company submitted something that was about a third of the price of our proposal.

They weren’t saying “no” to us but wanted to understand the disparity.

I was surprised for two reasons.

  1. To my knowledge, what we’re doing with Always-On CRM is really unique.
  2. If someone else was truly offering something like it, are they really devaluing it in that way?

The more I thought about it, I started to suspect that there was some creative wording at work by the vendor or a misunderstanding by the customer on what the offer entailed.

Data enrichment, like so many other terms, has taken on a life of its own across the SaaS landscape. It’s used in the B2B space as a fancier (some might say intentionally misleading) term for data appending. Like the guy following “suspicious” people around at your local Best Buy is a “Loss Prevention Specialist.”

So, again, real talk. Data enrichment is just data appending. It’s an automated signal, not a verified confirmation of information, and not always reliable.

For example:

  • Account enrichment (geographic, industry, employee count, etc.) relies on a match of the domain.
  • Contact or lead enrichment relies on a match of an email address.

 

So, if there’s an error in either the domain via human error or a problem with the email address (out of date, not verified, or again human error) enrichment just doesn’t work.

If your data partner is quoting you on a number of records or number of API calls, what are you paying for? Bear in mind the rapid nature of B2B data decay as well as the proliferation of once unverifiable email domains (catch-alls or accept-alls).

Prospectify philosophically disagrees with other enrichment providers who don’t seek to ensure the highest quality of data hygiene, particularly for contact data, before offering enrichment and data appending services.

Before Data Enrichment: Data Hygiene

Think of enrichment as a HEMI engine. It’s awesome and powerful but doesn’t do you or anyone else any good if you don’t have wheels … the basics to get you from A to B.

Similarly, there are unavoidable problems that occur naturally with CRM data. And these problems are not solved with just enrichment alone.

This includes catch-all email domains, where the email address could belong to someone who currently, previously or never worked at the company – but you’d never know. We’ve documented the history and proliferation of these here. Additional problems are well-known and glaring such as human error via misspellings or typos and phone numbers that are re-assigned without warning.

Prospectify does a few things to combat these issues.

  • Always-On CRM Cleanup – Contacts are verified, not every 30 days, but as soon as the information is available. These real-time updates reduce the impact of spelling errors and typos.
  • Deep Verification – With the catch-all domain issue in mind, Deep Verification goes further. Information that is not verifiable, but not necessarily inaccurate is flagged. This batch of CRM data can then be investigated with human scrutiny to determine a plan of action.  
  • Improved Organizational Decisions – An accurate overview of CRM data health allows you to make the right choices for all revenue-focused departments. After all, this data impacts the decision to hire sales reps, increase marketing budgets or change software vendors.

Maintaining accurate data leads to the bigger, more complicated conversation of data governance. Here’s a quick summary of what a data strategy includes outside of what Prospectify offers:

  • Uniformity – Fields such as company name, revenue, and location should be standardized for all CRM users (ex: Alphabet, Inc. or Alphabet).
  • Parent Accounts – Decide how to handles companies who have subsidiaries i.e. Amazon to Zappos. Some CRMs are better at handling this than others.
  • De-Duping – Duplicates will occur through automation or double entry, the established system needs to detect and eliminate.
  • Permissions – A basic feature of CRM software, but there are many different ways to divide permissions.
  • Maintenance – Some sales teams will set monthly or quarterly appointments that involve spot checking and clean up.

Data Enrichment Services: What to Look For

 

The data points for account enrichment vary by vendor, but usually include:

  • Geographic
    • City
    • State
    • Zip
  • Industry
  • Private vs. Public
  • Employee Count
  • Revenue
  • Social links

Some less common (and valuable) fields include:

  • Business Model
  • Technographics

Contact enrichment data points also vary, but the basics are:

  • Social links
  • Employment history

Some less common (and valuable) fields include:

  • Interests, likes, etc. for personalized outreach
  • Direct dial phones
  • Common connections

Those are the absolute basics. But, the process of how those data points, as well as the more difficult, rare, and gold-standard fields that only some can provide, are found and managed is a more important conversation.

Here are a few key questions and follow-up questions to ask your enrichment provider or possible B2B sales and marketing data enrichment vendors.

If they are enriching contacts and are charging based on # or records in your CRM or volume of API calls, how do they account for the decayed contacts?

It’s bad news if those are charged too.

Are they verifying data prior to enriching? If so, how?

The answer is probably, no.

If they say they validate the emails, ask how they handle accept-all domains? Do they assume they’re accurate and continuously try to enrich?

99.9% will say they assume good if they’re being honest.

Many providers suggest that you should enrich your data with them every 30 days or so. If so, ask them how frequently do they update their data?

Our data shows how rapid data decay can occur, 30 days is a risky threshold.

Are they appending job titles? If so, are they auto-updating your current entry?

If so, when did they last see that info, and are they certain they’re more up-to-date than you?

Are they appending phone numbers? If so, are they direct dials or main company lines?

If both, ask for what the breakdown is. If they are promoting exclusively direct dials – are they office lines i.e. to their desk or mobile? Again, inquire about the mix.

About The Author

2 Comments

  1. Matt Dunn

    Dear Matt,

    I’m Matt Dunn, formerly of VMGC Telemarketing LLC (owner/retired). I enjoyed reading your article.

    Just a quick question for you. Voicemail greetings and their accompanying voicemail instructions are fairly time consuming and easily bypassed if one knows the codes that make that possible. Having the codes saves considerable time for entities that depend on telemarketing. As a marketer, why do you think data enrichment companies or, say, list brokers or software developers do not provide this service to their clients?

    They must know it exists, so I thought you’d be a good person to ask.

    Thank you,
    Matt Dunn
    mdunn109@comcast.net

    1. Good question, Matt. I’m not entirely sure. I’d venture to say that it’s not something most data providers have heard requested (or at least not frequently), and it’s probably a lack of knowledge of the various configurations of phone systems. However, we’re seeing a movement towards text messaging due to mobiles becoming more and more used as the primary phone for professionals even if they have a landline, so this is probably suppressing the desire for instructions like you’re asking about even more. Thanks for the question and for reading.

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