I have always accepted the industry standard that business-to-business data decays at a rate of 30% a year and good sceptic that I am, assumed that the data industry was talking this up to encourage repeat orders.
Last week, we were pricing a list research project for a client and we happened to put this to the test.
We took a data file from June 2013, ran the exact same search again, compared the two files and found that 50% of the records had changed. Whether this was companies moving offices, email address changes, new phone numbers and most often, people switching jobs, we found that over the course of a year, this file of Electric Marketing data had decayed at a rate of 50%. Can't be right (there's that sceptic again), so we tested another, larger file of data. Same result. We tested a third file. Same result.
Why are we so far off the industry standard?
Theory One: the industry standard has not been tested since before the dawn of email. Email addresses are changed more frequently than postal addresses and these are pushing the rate of decay up from 30% to 50%. This was my first thought but I reckon that our more profit-focused competitors will have tested their rate of data decay within the last 12 years and I assume found no change in the rate of 30% data decay.
Theory Two: The focus of Electric Marketing email data is on large, dynamic businesses where staff are promoted and switch jobs more frequently; where merger and acquisition activity makes for more office moves, company name changes and email address changes. Dynamic companies where change is frequent make good sales prospects as they are receptive to new ideas and changing suppliers.
Theory Three: 30% is an industry average which would include all the micro-businesses employing under 5 people. They are characterised by people setting up a business and running it for 30 years until they retire; change in these businesses runs at a slower pace - they may still be dynamic businesses but the contact details for the MD are likely to remain static for longer periods. These small businesses are not included on Electric Marketing's datafile.
Theory Four: The changes to our data included all the new managers and directors we had added to the data file over the year. Our cycle of updating and researching new names is more aggressive than other data providers.
So the bad news is that if you bought a file of data from Electric Marketing in summer 2013, half of it is probably incorrect. And this likely applies to any data you hold on large businesses.
If you'd like to fix this, Electric Marketing offers 50% discount on any list which you have bought within the last 12 months. But if you are reading this thinking about buying new data, consider our LeadStream service where we alert you to changes in email addresses on your datafile and send you new contacts that we've added to your datafile every month. See http://www.electricmarketing.co.uk/leadstream.html