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September 2022

5 Ways to “Un-Crap” Your Data

It’s a phrase we’ve heard fall out of the mouths of too many a C Suite-er, salesperson, marketer, or other business-type human all too often.

The moment you introduce the subject of data (or data , depending on how you pronounce it) you can sense it’s coming.

You see a dull flicker behind the eyes, you feel gears start to whirr and cogs begin to turn. You know they’re going to drop that crap-bomb. It’s inevitable. Like the sun rising and setting, like summer following spring, or like there always being an Irish bar wherever you go on holiday. (Remember holidays? They were pretty cool, weren’t they?)

It’s those 5 and a bit words that have been uttered over and over again:

“We know our data’s crap”

Boom. There it is.

It just gets left to hang in the air, waiting for some sort of answer (or at the very least acknowledgment). It’ll then get followed up by some nonsense about “not having done anything with it” or “our CRM needs a really good clean”.

All just pointless excuses. Have you said similar things yourself or heard anyone else say it recently? We bet you have (and many, many times over).

But it’s a situation that can be changed (if you’re willing). So, let’s unpick what the real problem here is and how you (yes, you) can deal with it quick smart.

The cause of most frustration

The most irritating, annoying and perplexing word in that crap-bomb is “know”. If you KNOW that your data’s crap, then why hasn’t something been done about it?

Maybe data’s not all that important? It’s not like a decent data set is the foundation of any campaign activity that will successfully generate leads and new business for you, is it? **INSERTS EYE ROLL EMOJI **

But just knowing about something isn’t always enough of a reason to do something about it is it? For instance, we know that eating the right things and doing daily exercise is the key to a healthier existence. Do we do it?

Askhkshdksjd. Sorry, our fingers were sticky from that last donut.


But when it comes to your data, doing something about it is a must… but only if you want to ensure your marketing hits the right places, targets the right people, delivers the necessary pipeline and produces a positive ROI, that is.

Sound like something you’re interested in? Good. Then here’s some ideas you can look at to un-crap the crap you’ve currently got crapping things up.


But first; A note about GDPR

Now, we can’t write a blog about data without mentioning the millstone around many a marketer’s neck that is GDPR. Yes, it’s a great thing to protect consumers from an unsolicited and unwanted barrage of spam, but in the B2B world it’s a slightly different kettle of fish.

Controversial statement? Hear us out…

The GDPR is used to protect Personal Identifiable Information (PII) but – as we, and many other marketers we’ve spoken to understand it – under the guidance of the GDPR work/business emails aren’t considered PII and can be used without the old double opt in.

“But how can that be? My work email has my name in it, so surely it identifies me as a person!” we hear you furiously shout at the nearest pigeon.


Well yes, your name is in there but (and sorry to say this) it’s not all about you. It’s about the role you hold and what’s deemed a “legitimate interest”.

The ICO, commenting on the GDPR regs says that: “The legitimate interests can be your own interests or the interests of third parties. They can include commercial interests, individual interests or broader societal benefits.”

Here’s a weirdly specific example breaking it down for you:

Say we’re running a campaign to target CIOs in Insurance companies with a brand-new software product designed to stop cyber-attacks on Insurance companies, and you happen to be a CIO in an Insurance Company.

It would be reasonable to assume you would have a legitimate interest in that product for commercial (and maybe individual) reasons. So, we’d pop you and email or 2 to see if you’re interested – because of the job you hold, not because you’re who you are.

But if you moved jobs and became the CTO of a Hovercraft Manufacturers – the dream, right? – then we wouldn’t really care about you anymore. (For that campaign we mean. We’d still care deeply about you as a person. You’re great). But who we would care about is the person who filled your role back at the insurance company.

Now clearly this doesn’t give you free reign to just target anyone with anything just because its “commercial”. But if you can demonstrate that there would be legitimate interest for the role holder’s you’re looking to engage with then all’s good in the hood. B2B, GDPR and Legitimate Interest. It’s all about the role holder.

Now back to un-crapping your data.


5 ways to Un-Crap your data


1. Kill it.

If you know its crap and you also know you’re never going to do anything with it, just kill it. Take your data out into a brick-walled yard, blindfold it, give it a last cigarette and then put it out of its misery.

It’ll be a weight off your mind, and you can also stop paying for a CRM system that you never use properly too. So, win/win.

Granted you’ll really struggle to do any sort of purposeful outbound marketing and your pipeline may run dry. But at least your data’s not crap anymore.



2.Just do SOMETHING with it.

Do you really know your data’s crap, or do you just think it is? Why not test it to see if it actually is as bad as you think it is.

What’s the worst that happens? Someone unsubscribes or you get a hard bounce from an email address. Good. That just cleans your list for you, getting rid of all that chaff so you can feast on data wheat.

It amazes us how often databases just get left to stagnate and collect dust. Just because you stick your bike in the shed and don’t ride it doesn’t make it a crap bike. Hop aboard and take your data for a spin.


3.Rebuild it.

This is the next step on and can be fairly LinkedIn intensive, but it will give your data a proper spruce up. Take all those hard bounces you got when you tested your data and get digging on where those people have gone and who’s replaced them.


It’s also worthwhile doing the same with those that haven’t bounced. Sure, they’ve got the same email address and it’s still active, but maybe they’ve moved around their company. Maybe they’ve been promoted. Maybe they now hold all of the purse strings. But if you fire off an email that’s still aimed at who they were 5 years ago that’ll be a swing and a miss.

The good people of Fiver, Upwork and the like will be able to lend you a hand here.


4.Buy it.

Now, purchasing data lists is a route you CAN go down but it’s not necessarily one we would recommend all that strongly. Sure, it seems like an easy way to bulk out your database with a bunch of new contacts but consider the following:

  • How many other people could have bought the same list?
  • How fresh is the data REALLY?
  • How are you allowed to use the data?
  • How long can you keep the data for?

And anyway, would you rather have a database of 100,000 contacts who have no idea who you are and what you do or 1,500 contacts who get what your all about and will have a need for what you do. We know which we’d prefer.


5. Source it.

 Oh yeah, the good stuff. And when we say good stuff, we mean technical gadgetry that does super cool things – like Intent Data Platforms (IDPs). Don’t know if that’s actually an acronym, if not we just made it up.

In a nutshell what IDPs do is track search behaviour across t’internet at an organisational level (ie. By an IP address) and then present that intent information back to you in dashboards of varying complexity, depending on which platform you’re using.

There are other tools that do similar reverse IP lookup for your website too, but whichever way it’s used those intent signals can all be woven together into a rich tapestry of intent-y goodness.


You can load up lists of accounts you want to track for ABM purposes and see what they’re doing over an extended period of time. You can search for accounts displaying intent around topics you care about. You can break things down by sector, company size, location or some other quantifiable measure. There are plenty of options to explore.

BUT THEN you can intelligently source contact data for the accounts you know are displaying intent – using a cognism, zoom info or similar – and make a far more educated guess at who those individuals will be triggering those intent terms.

Granted, it’s never going to be 100% accurate – and what is when it comes to world of data? – but it’s far more of a scalpel-like approach than the sledgehammer of buying a contact list and rinsing it to death.

So, if you’re fine with having crap data, that’s cool(ish). But...

... if you’re keen to un-crap what you’ve got and make your marketing more valuable and commercially successful then we hope we’ve given you some food for thought.

And hey, if you need a hand getting your head around your data situation and best route forward you know where we are.