How Much Bad or Outdated Information is In Your CRM?

By Tracey E. Schelmetic

It happens to everyone once in a while: you receive a piece of commercial mail that’s been forwarded from an address you haven’t lived in for 20 years, sent to an old name, an old address and an old life. A warranty communication by email about a car you haven’t owned since the last century. Pool service offers about a pool you haven’t had since three presidential administrations ago. If you’re marketing-minded, you might think, “What poor company was duped into paying good money for this ridiculously moth-eaten lead?” “What other antique horrors lie in this company’s marketing database?”

The truth is that nearly every customer relationship management (CRM) system is littered with outdated, ancient and duplicate information. A 2015 multi-national survey by Experian revealed that 91 percent of all companies suffer from common data errors, including incomplete, outdated or inaccurate data. Continuing to rely on that information isn’t only a waste of effort and money, it makes you seem out of touch in your marketing efforts. It’s therefore a good idea to carry out regular purges and maintenance on your CRM.

Wards Auto recently profiled Seaside, California-based Cardinale Automotive Group, which operates 22 dealerships. Cardinale is listed at number 53 on the 2019 WardsAuto Megadealer 100 with $406 million in total 2018 revenue.

The group recently sought an information purge when it found a high percentage (between 32 percent and 68 percent depending on the store) of outdated, incomplete or mismatched electronic information stored in its CRM system, according to Steven Finlay writing for Wards Auto. Cardinale hired a verification service provider to perform a “data purification” to eliminate thousands of bad entries from the CRM.  This was a crucial step if the company was going to run effective marketing campaigns in the future.

“Data is useless if you can’t turn it into action,” Robert Powell, chief investment officer for the Cardinale Group, told Wards Auto. “We use it to make marketing decisions. It doesn’t do any good to run an email marketing campaign when 40 percent of the emails are invalid.”

In addition to using a consultant to perform a data purge, dealerships can ensure their CRM databases are up-to-date by mandating that personnel take a few minutes to get accurate contact information out of everyone they do business with, including both new customers and updating the information of existing customers.