Your B2B database is a constantly evolving entity that needs to be nurtured and maintained, to keep it in tip-top condition. However large or small it may be, it’s a necessity to review it on a regular basis.

It may be obvious that your records are in need of some care – for instance, perhaps you don’t really know what information your business has at its disposal; or maybe your marketing messages are going undelivered. However, even if your database appears to be in perfectly good working order, it is still important to put it under the microscope.

So, in response to the question – does your organisation need a B2B data audit? – invariably, the answer is yes.

What is a data audit?

To start with, let’s look at this definition from Techopedia: “A data audit refers to the auditing of data to assess its quality or utility for a specific purpose. Auditing data, unlike auditing finances, involves looking at key metrics, other than quantity, to create conclusions about the properties of a data set.”

Conducting a data audit will allow you to inspect your database to ensure that it is fit for purpose; that it will enable you to form connections with the people that would most benefit from your product or service. And it will also provide you with the confidence that your records are of the highest quality, and that they are not harbouring any risks to your business.

In short, it will enable you to get a firm grip on your records. In this way, you can be certain of the role that data is playing within your organisation – and that you won’t encounter any unwelcome surprises.

Why it’s so important

The value of a data audit cannot be overestimated. Poor quality (“dirty”) data will limit your ability to score leads and win sales.

So why might your data be in need of a review? For one, B2B data decays at a rate of 35 per cent a year. Therefore, many of the records you currently have may no longer be relevant in 12 months’ time – whether because a business acquires new premises, or an individual leaves their role to take on a new position.

Furthermore, some of your records might be inaccurate or missing details – perhaps because a member of your sales team misheard certain details over the phone; or because a prospect didn’t fill out every field in a form online.

There is also a chance that your records may not be legally compliant. For example, maybe you bought a data list over the Internet from a supplier that didn’t have permission to pass on the information.

Ultimately, using bad data results in wasted time and resources as you pursue the wrong, or entirely inappropriate, leads. This can annoy people and damage your reputation – and the costs quickly add up too. For example, if you are sending out mistargeted direct mail, there are printing and postage costs to take into account; similarly, with telemarketing, there are phone bills and staff overheads to be paid. In short, your overheads increase, but your revenue does not.

How to implement a data audit

A thorough data audit generally consists of three stages:

  1. Diagnosis – pinpointing the problem. Where are the faults in your data? What changes need to be made?
  2. Treatment – solving the problem. What steps do you need to take to clean up your data?
  3. Expansion – moving beyond the problem. How can you reach more of the right people?

Some of the particulars of a data audit can include, but are not limited to:

  • Amending inaccurate records
  • Adding in missing information
  • Removing duplicates and “goneaways”
  • Flagging illegal data
  • Identifying best customer profiles
  • Calculating market penetration

You can carry out each of these steps by yourself or, if you feel like you need a helping hand, you can partner with a B2B data consultancy. If you’re considering the latter option, why not read this post for some advice and tips. Whichever option you choose, it’s well worth taking the time to carry out a B2B data audit. The better the condition of your database, the bigger the benefits for your business.