B2B Marketers Are Begging For Bad Data

In B2B marketing, bad data represents a huge lost opportunity. According to SiriusDecisions, companies with the best quality data drive 70% more revenue through marketing programs than those with simply average data quality.

Despite the cost of bad data, the practice of the average marketer guarantees bad data, and it may be getting worse each year. With a growing body of research showing current marketing practices are consistently delivering bad data, it is time for change.

What Is Your Content Really Worth?

White Paper: $1 Million. Conterfeit Currency Gladly AcceptedYou have seen the registration forms that go on and on, asking for information about an individual’s role in the buying process, project budget, timeline and more. These forms are asking for far more than the content is worth.

Individuals simply are not willing to share this much information, and sometimes they do not expect to share any information at all.

Based on a recent study from DemandGen Report, most B2B buyers feel long registration forms are inappropriate.

  • Only 10% of individuals are willing to provide information beyond basic contact details for a webcast.
  • Even fewer (6%) are willing to do so for an “interactive presentation,” and the numbers are even lower for other formats, including white papers.
  • Nearly half do not believe any registration should be required for case studies.

This is based on an additional question that was not included in the publicly posted survey results. Contact DemandGen Report directly for additional information.

The Data Is Bad

When you ask for information people don’t believe they should need to provide, they lie. Rather than saying they have an immediate need, they say they have none. Rather than providing a real phone number, they make something up.

About two years ago, I was reviewing registration data. One particular record still sticks in my mind:

  • The name, company and title matched (based on LinkedIn).
  • The physical address was bogus, something like 123 Main St, but the company only had one location and it was easily identified.
  • The phone number was for a salon on the same street. A quick Google Street View check confirmed the salon was across the street and the phone number was in the window!

In a (now older) report from TechTarget, the majority of people lie when asked about specific buying plans. Furthermore, willingness to provide accurate contact data like email and phone number is decreasing. Here is an excerpt from the report:

Research Results: TechTarget Registration Accuracy

In a more recent (2011) study from Janrain (with a broader consumer base), 88% report having lied on registration forms.

Inaccurate contact information is one of the reasons the traditional approach to enterprise B2B lead generation is on its last legs and needs to be reimagined.

Key Takeaway
Are you asking for too much information? If so, you are begging for bad data.

Your Turn

What will it take for marketers to change their approach to registration? What marketers are already making this change successfully? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Thank you to Colin O’Neill for the Million Dollar Analyst Report graphic.

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  • While I agree I do not want to have to give my phone number to receive a report, I understand why they do it.  What is a better model Eric so that both sides feel it was a win for them?

    AND since I gave my phone number for a few I now get huge amounts of calls from companies I never gave my number too.  How do I know this? Because I have an unusual number – it is unlisted cell (which is practically unheard of) I was judicious with giving access to it and now it is out of control.  Making me sorry I ever engaged with a few B2B companies for their reports.

    • Kenny

      2 million it buyers agree with this.

  • Hey 

  • Hey Eric, wow what a great and thought-provoking post. I have to admit when I first saw the title I thought the crux of the article would be about indeed how B2B marketers ‘want’ bad data, although for the life of me I couldn’t understand why. 🙂

    But after reading your article, I get it. Yes I can be a little slow sometimes 🙂 But no, in all seriousness you raise some very valid points and concerns that ALL B2B marketers should take heed of….

    Great, great article…
    Steve O

  • Hey Eric, thanks for alerting me to the post. I agree bad data quality is a challenge, but I’m not sure if shorter forms will reduce the percentage of people giving wrong data. Would be good to see someone A/B test this.

    I would argue that content marketing and marketing automation, when done right, already address the underlying issue. Namely the (understandable) lack of trust of the prospect at the top of the funnel. As you’ve mentioned in the earlier posts you reference and as seen in the Spiceworks discussion even IT admins are ok with being called – once they reach a stage where a conversation makes sense.

    So my conclusion would be that lead gen is still alive and well provided that you:
    a) have gone to the trouble of creating compelling, actionable content
    b) have content not only for the top of the funnel, but also for later stages in the buyer journey
    c) nurture and make use of progressive profiling
    d) sound human 🙂

    I think what’s missing currently is lack of sophistication from B2B marketers. Not necessarily because the principles aren’t understood, but because a) to d) above are not easy to implement.

    Would be interesting also to get a perspective from companies like StrikeIron or demandbase on this topic. Their services should improve data quality for the long forms you mention, surely?

    Interesting you brought up LinkedIn by the way. It’s amazing how little data an actual human needs to figure out what’s missing. Wouldn’t it be possible to automate that and ‘triangulate’ contact data just from Name, company name and location information from your web analytics? Just a thought.


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