Select Page

Spring Clean Your Contact List: Why Clean Data Trumps Purchased Leads Every Time

Erin Myers
April 3, 2017

When it comes to marketing, data is everything. Ninety-nine percent of organizations consider data essential to their marketing success. So why not spend a little time cleaning up your existing contact list to make sure you’re getting the most out of it? Many business owners would say they’d prefer to purchase leads instead. And when we receive questions about the pros and cons of purchased leads, we’re never surprised. Everyone loves a shortcut, right?

But what seems like a quick fix can actually cost you marketing dollars. Purchased leads, like most shortcuts, come with unexpected obstacles and delays. They can even put your reputation at risk. Why take the gamble purchasing leads when your customer relationship management (CRM) system is already full of valuable customer data that will help you close more deals?

Bonus Content: Grab a copy of our Email Marketing Roadmap.

Get It Now

Relationships Matter

Today’s customer wants a relationship, not a sales pitch. If you can build that connection, they’ll come back to you again and again, and maybe even send their friends. Consider the numbers:

  • 64 percent of consumers say the organization an email is from influences whether or not they open it.
  • 70 percent always open emails sent from their favorite brands.

On the flip side, MailChimp’s data has shown purchased leads to be dead on arrival. Open and click-through rates are abysmal with purchased lists, and even unsubscribe requests drop off because no one wants to open emails from a stranger. The only thing you can count on is an increase in complaints from your recipients. You’re lucky if you don’t end up blacklisted.

The message is clear: existing customer relationships play a huge role in the success of your marketing campaigns. Customers would rather hear from brands they know and trust. Wouldn’t you rather work with people who want to work with you? Why purchase leads when the power to build lasting customer relationships and accelerate lead generation is right there in your existing CRM?

You Have to Know Your Audience

According to the 2015 Experian Data Quality Benchmark Report, 95 percent of companies want to glean some insight from their data. That certainly makes sense, until you consider that 32 percent of U.S. companies think their data is inaccurate. In fact, 83 percent of commercial companies believe their revenue is being affected by erroneous and incomplete customer or prospect data.

How can you gain insight into your audience if your data is wrong? Adding purchased contacts to the mix certainly isn’t going to help anything. If insight is your goal, delve into your CRM data and get to know your existing customers.

Your CRM system holds a treasure trove of valuable data, some of which you’ve probably never considered. Sure, you’ve got names, emails and locations, and those can definitely be used to your advantage, but have you considered your sales notes? Your team is gathering valuable information with every interaction, including notes, questions and comments from your customers. This is exactly the kind of information you need to improve your marketing.

The Value of Clean Data

CRMs for business owners put a gold mine of data right at your fingertips; all you need to do is clean it up. This involves merging duplicate contacts, updating old information, correcting inaccuracies, filling in blanks, and removing contacts that bounce or request removal. It may sound like a lot of work, but it’s certainly worth it.

According to RingLead, it costs $1 per contact to prevent bad data, $10 to correct it, and $100 to do nothing. How can doing nothing cost so much? Think about the repercussions of leaving inaccurate data in the CRM.

Not only are you wasting server space with bad leads and duplicate data, but you’re also wasting time, effort and marketing dollars nurturing leads that may not even exist. Even if they do exist, poor segmentation based on inaccurate data will prevent you from delivering the message potential clients need to hear at precisely the time they need to hear it. You’re missing opportunities.

All of these missteps cost you money, and quite a bit over time. RingLead reports that approximately 20 percent of the average database is dirty at any given time. In other words, if you have 5,000 leads, a thousand or so could be dirty. At $100 a pop, that’s a potential waste of $100K. But clean that data as it comes in, and you’ll only spend $1K. That’s quite a savings, no?

Use Clean CRM Data to Improve Marketing

Clean data allows you to better segment your database and create custom content that is personalized to appeal to the specific pain points of your target audience. Not sure why that matters?

  • 28 percent lower unsubscribe rates and 39 percent higher open rates are reported by companies using email list segmentation.
  • Personalized emails receive 29 percent higher unique open rates and 41 percent more click-throughs than non-personalized emails.

You know why personalized emails increase open rates? People enjoy receiving targeted content that’s meaningful to them. And that’s true whether you’re sending emails or posting on social media. If you provide valuable content to your target audience, engagement will increase. Purchased leads don’t allow for that sort of personalization.

Here are a few practical ways you use clean CRM data to improve marketing across channels.

Facebook Ads

With 1.49 billion monthly active users and 968 million daily active users, Facebook is still the place to be when it comes to social media. While Facebook’s algorithm limits your reach, you can leverage your clean data to run targeted ad campaigns and ensure your place in the news feed.

Traditional Facebook ads allow you to target audiences by location, demographics, connections, interests and behaviors. You can even create custom audiences using your existing customer data or target a look-alike audience with people who are similar to your top clients.

If ads aren’t your thing, you can also pay to boost individual Facebook posts. With boosting, you’re paying for a higher position in the news feed. Options for targeting boosted posts include location, interests, age and gender. Or you can simply boost the post for people who like your page (and their friends, if you so choose).

As you increase your visibility on Facebook, you’ll also increase user engagement. In turn, you’ll earn a more consistent place in the news feed of your audience moving forward.

Email Campaigns

Clean data can do a number of good things for your email marketing. Deliverability improves. Since you’re reaching a larger, more targeted audience, engagement increases, creating more opportunities and boosting conversion rates. Bounce and unsubscribe rates drop, which improves your sender reputation. ROI increases, as you’re no longer wasting marketing dollars on nonexistent email contacts.

You’ll also see a marked improvement in your analytics. When you have bad data in the mix, your results can be skewed significantly. Without an accurate picture of your true performance, it’s hard to make successful strategic adjustments. With clean data, you can make every email count. Switch out email subject lines, retarget content, reword calls to action (CTAs) — whatever the adjustment, it will be based on accurate reporting.

Social Media

When you attend social events, it’s much easier to mingle with people you’re already familiar with, and the same holds true for social media. When you use clean CRM data, you gain insight into your contacts. Knowing your audience allows you to provide valuable, shareable content and start conversations that will interest your followers. For example, if you know a particular audience is apt to engage with video content, you can use that to your advantage. You don’t have that luxury with purchased leads.


Another benefit of using clean CRM data to improve marketing is the opportunity for referral leads. Word of mouth referrals are by far the number one way businesses get new business. And it’s no wonder, when you consider that 92 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from family and friends over every other form of advertising.

Referral leads do take time, but it’s time well spent. While purchased leads can expand your database overnight, there’s no guarantee of quality. Plus, you’re lucky to get an open, much less a referral. If you’re going to grow your database, it makes much more sense to dedicate your marketing dollars to nurturing the quality leads in your CRM.


While the idea of instant expansion makes purchased leads sound like a tempting option, you will do much better if you use clean CRM data to improve your marketing strategy. When it’s all said and done, relationships are what really matter, and you can’t build trust and loyalty when you don’t know your audience.

Your CRM is full of easy-to-access data that can provide you the insights you need to target and personalize campaigns across all channels and provide marketing content that’s not only valuable but will also keep you top of mind for referrals. Purchased leads can’t compete with that.


Almost There!
Get the latest Email Marketing Roadmap now.

Updated 4/3/17; Originally published 12/8/15.

Read Next

We write great emails

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of our blog, tailored for you.