CRM Data

5 ways to fight data decay

When it comes to fighting data decay (the gradual loss of accurate data from a system), an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. According to the 1-10-100 rule, which was developed by George Labovitz and Yu Sang Chang, the cost of preventing bad data from entering a CRM system is $1 and the cost of correcting existing problems is $10. However, the cost of repairing the problem after it causes a failure, either internally or with a customer, can be around $100.[1] Because bad data takes a greater toll the longer it goes unchecked, it’s imperative for companies to have a strategy to fight data decay before it becomes an expensive problem.

This is how quickly data decays

Data changes rapidly, rendering what was once a solid contact unusable. It’s not enough to make sure your CRM has accurate data upon entry into the system; administrators, marketers and sales reps need to work together to ensure data is constantly updated. A recent Gartner report estimates that every month around 3% of data decays around the globe.[2] When we look exclusively at B2B data, the decay rate is estimated to be 70.3% per year.[3] Why does data decay affect B2B records at a higher rate? Economic factors and the mobility of the workforce both contribute to this high percentage. In fact, the Sales & Marketing Institute found that every 30 minutes, 120 business addresses and 75 phone numbers change, 20 CEOs leave their jobs, and 30 new businesses are formed.[4]

1. Engage with your target audience regularly & meaningfully

Marketers can prevent data decay by keeping their current audience engaged with content that helps gather updated contact information. Using opt-in or interactive content such as contests, gated whitepapers or webinars, or fun quizzes and polls, helps keep CRM data up-to-date and collect additional information on customers and prospects. In addition, sending relevant, meaningful content to an audience on a regular basis makes them more likely to engage with a brand on a deeper level and less likely to fall off the grid as they change email addresses or social media handles.

Brand example:

Data Axle employs high-value gated content as a major strategy to keep their consumers engaged and their data up to date. Gated content, such as whitepapers, infographics, webinars, and other tools, provides value to their audience. The relevancy and quality of the content is enough of a draw to entice their audience to enter their contact information in order to obtain it. This ensures a fresh flow of accurate data into their CRM. Even as consumers change jobs, as long as Data Axle continues to engage them with quality content, they will continue to provide us with their contact information.

2. Ask customers directly to update their information

While some consumers will take the initiative and update their contact information on their own, most need a gentle reminder to do so. There are a few ways to ask your audience to update their contact information. Brands can have a tab or pop-up to remind visitors to their website to “complete their profile” or encourage audiences to customize their account in an email preference center. An email preference center allows the customer to choose what type of communications they receive from brands and the frequency.

For example, some people want to be emailed daily and others might find daily emails a nuisance. Being proactive about collecting updated audience contact information can help brands win the fight against CRM data decay and provide new information such as product or topic interests.

Bank of America shows a pop-up, encouraging users to confirm their contact information after they log in.

3. Develop a Data Hygiene Strategy

Much like a home, a database has to be continuously cleaned. Practicing good data hygiene means having routine maintenance to help ensure database accuracy. Some best practices include:

  • Incorporating real-time email verification in web registration forms or other points of email collection
  • Implementing a double opt-in process that prompts a new subscriber to click on the confirmation email sent to their inbox in order to officially join a mailing program. This ensures that an email is active and accurate
  • Developing a “pre-deployment” practice of validating email or physical addresses before starting an email or mailing campaign
  • Running a subscriber list through an email verification tool weekly or monthly to ensure accuracy

Not all companies have a large data science team that is dedicated to data hygiene. If a brand doesn’t have the internal resources to develop and implement a regular data cleansing processes, they can enlist services from a data services provider.

4. Invest in Third-Party Data

Third-party data is crucial when it comes to filling in the gaps in a company’s CRM data.

Third-party data providers, such as Data Axle, gather data from various channels, platforms, apps, and websites – providing information about prospects and customers that a brand wouldn’t have access to based on their own interactions. In addition, since a reputable data provider will have a rigorous process for data hygiene and verification (for example, Data Axle makes 60,000 phone calls a day to verify data and has a team of 300+ data technicians working to keep data accurate) brands can use third-party data to keep their records up-to-date

5. Invest in the right integrations to keep your CRM data accurate

An integration with an intuitive data platform that feeds clean data directly into a brand’s CRM system is a great way to avoid data decay. Integrating B2B lead data from a third-party data provider directly into their CRM can save companies a ton of time and prevent common challenged associated with incorrect or missing data and manual entry. For example, Data Axle delivers updates to CRM data in real-time, ensuring that linkages remain intact and that data doesn’t decay over time.


Data decay is costly. To overcome it, companies must constantly engage with their audience, stay on top of data hygiene and invest in solutions to keep their data up-to-date.

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Natasia Langfelder
Content Marketing Manager

As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.