RevenueBase Blog

What is data decay and why could it be costing you money?

Nothing lasts forever, and that includes your customer data too. One of the biggest mistakes that organizations make is believing that, if they invest in data once, it will last them well into the future.

Your B2B database is one of your greatest assets, but it needs some care and attention to make sure that it stays that way. Just like food, your data decays. And it’s not simply that the decayed data isn’t useful to you anymore; it could be harmful.

Why is data decay such a big problem now?

Data decay is not a new phenomenon. However, it is estimated that between 2020 and 2025, 180 zettabytes of data will be created; it stands to reason that if we are making more data, faster than ever before, existing data will be decaying faster than ever, too. 

Organizational data

Data decay can be a problem for both organization and contact data sources. While organizational data has a tendency to be less volatile than contact data, there are unique data points for which inaccurate data can be a risk. Buyer insights such as a particular function size, team hiring trends and tech stack is not often gathered and maintained by B2B data providers, which means that sales and marketing teams could be at a disadvantage to competitors with more relevant, timely insights.

B2B contact data

When it comes to B2B contact data, decay can be a big problem; where organization data usually remains fairly static (their headquarters location or industry are unlikely to change), contact data is constantly changing. The volatility of B2B contact data has been exacerbated over the last two years amid the chaos of the Great resignation when, according US Bureau of Labor Statistics program’s JOLTS (Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey), quit rates reached an all-time high. Although a high quit rate of 2.4% was reached in February 2001 when the program first started, this record was not surpassed or even nearly met for the next two decades. This record was broken in March 2021 (2.5%) and smashed in April (2.8%). By November of 2021, the rate had reached 3%, where it remained through December. Although August 2023 saw the quit rate stabilize to 2.3%, there is still risk to those relying on accurate data that the mass decay of information over a relatively short period of time will reverberate through the provision of inaccurate information.

The Great Lay Off followed hot on the heals of the Great Resignation, adding more uncertainty to an already unstable landscape. With an estimated quarter of a million layoffs in the first 3 quarters of 2023, layoff rates are 50% higher than previously, adding another element of risk to sellers’ precious databases. 

So, what is data decay?

You will hear the teams at RevenueBase refer to data decay on a regular basis. But our customers don’t always know what we mean by the term. Data decay refers to the natural deterioration of the quality of the data stored by organizations in their sales and marketing databases. Over time, data degradation occurs as information loses accuracy or becomes incomplete as people move around and their circumstances or contact details change.

The types of data decay

There are two primary types of data decay: mechanical decay, and logical decay. Mechanical data decay arises when data is erased or corrupted as the result of a hardware failure, such as hard drive failure, cyber attack or collapsed servers. As mechanical data decay is usually one extreme event, it is easier to prevent than logical data decay via regular backups and optimized data security.

Logical data decay is the natural obsolescence of data as circumstances change. People moving jobs is the biggest source of logical data decay and, in the era of the Great Resignation, this degeneration of the quality of information is more rapid than ever. Other sources of logical data decay include misspelt names and emails, duplicated data entries, misinterpreted data and outdated data; information changing as the result of a relatively minor change such as a new phone, name change, or job switch.

With data decaying at such a fast rate, and on such a large scale, it is easy to see how a database that was once the gold standard is now virtually worthless. But all is not lost. You can’t prevent data decay or the actions or events it, but you can invest in data providers and systems that allow you to mitigate the decay and ensure the continuing high quality of your information.

The impact of data decay

Failure to address data decay and treat data quality in your B2B customer relationship management systems as a critical strategic asset, and invest in it accordingly, could come with a hefty price tag.

In terms of organization data, the absence of real time insight into your buyers’ behaviors and current needs, which may impact their readiness to buy, could have a significant impact on your results. This lack of precision in your targeting can demonstrate an absence of understanding of your prospects and could mean that you lose out to competitors. What’s more, using outdated information can give the implication that your organization is behind the curve.

Weakening your sales pipeline – a strong database will help you to optimize leads and reach people who want to hear from you. Our customers have seen bounce rates as low as 1-2% and even 100% open rates.  On the flip side, a weaker database will mean higher bounce rates and lower open rates. And, with decayed data, even those opens will lead to reduced conversions. As a result, sales teams will need to spend more time prospecting for accurate, valuable data, and less time getting results.

Draining resources – as a data-as-a-service company, we know how important database management is. However, individually amending incorrect data can be a drain on resources, and time spent by your sales team updating out of date information is time not spent selling. At RevenueBase, we use a host of data management techniques, such as tagging, routing, normalizing and de-duplicating data to make sure that our customers’ sales teams have the information they need to get the best results.

Putting your domain at risk – sending emails to the wrong people doesn’t just count as wasted activity at your end, it could actually be harmful to your domain. Degraded data could result in your emails going to spam, which will lead to a natural downturn in opens, impacting your stats, sales and marketing performance and potentially losing you valuable leads.

Preventing data decay

With so much to gain from up to the minute information, and so much to lose from data decay, regular data integrity checks are an investment that many organizations can’t afford not to make.

At RevenueBase, we see things a little differently to other data solutions. We don’t see your B2B database as a single product; your database is a real time, living, breathing entity that must be nurtured and maintained. A healthy B2B database goes beyond switching manual data entry for automated, it requires ongoing assessment and intelligent curating to ensure its integrity and up to the minute customer information. We can help you to keep your data clean, relevant, and impactful with our unique AI model which allows us to: confirm potential customers’ email validity, remove duplication, update absent fields, override obsolete data, normalize values. With our tailored, innovative B2B data services, your BDRs don’t need to find people, they will have every name that they need, at their disposal. Most importantly, your data will remain valid and usable, allowing you to continue to achieve ROI from your sales and your marketing efforts, speed up your sales cycle, and engage the right people, at the right time.