I spend hours each day researching and cultivating leads for my business. The idea is that if I reach out to enough people, it will increase sales by sheer volume. Companies that develop ways of forming and nurturing databases have become very popular with organizations looking to find new customers and grow. However, savvy businesses have learned that as soon as they get a database of promising leads, a significant portion of that database is already out of date. This is known as the "decay rate" of a database and it presents an ongoing challenge for organizations.

Any large database will be affected each month by position changes. People lose their job or switch to new ones. New people are hired. I personally like to say that this happens an average of around three percent per month. It means each year that as much as 40 percent of a company's database may go out of date. Here in the Bay Area this may be a little bit more as well. Because marketing teams like mine consider these databases one of their most important assets, this can be devastating to an organization's marketing efforts. For this reason I’ve used tools to keep track of this. Here are a few of the more reputable services that I use to keep track of leads and track everything.

1. Unbounce

Unbounce is an A/B testing marketing tool that helps websites more effectively reach customers. This tool integrates with the software a business is already using to test out various marketing efforts and determine which is most effective. If you use one of the company's supported apps--which include MailChimp, Salesforce, and Constant Contact, among others--you can connect Unbounce to your landing page and let it capture leads and deliver them directly to your database. I personally use the MailChimp integration and it works like a breeze.

2. LeadGenius

Unlike many other tech-based tools, LeadGenius has human beings comb databases and verify the information inside them. Using logic and reasoning that only humans possess, the LeadGenius team is able to readily identify contacts that are the best fit for a particular product or service. This human touch is combined with the latest techniques in machine learning and data mining to ensure every database is as up-to-date as possible at all times. This is one of the closest tools to myself and my actual leads that I have come across.

3. Fresh Address

Fresh Address is designed to help businesses improve bounce rates in their email marketing efforts. It’s pretty simple, they provide my company email verification services to help clean up my existing database. This helps eliminate any problematic data on my end. The automated tool replaces bad email addresses with new ones to make my marketing campaigns more successful. Best of all, this service is ongoing, so address lists are always being checked and updated as necessary. Fresh Address's customers can also take advantage of email scoring and segmentation services, with contact list names and addresses scored on more than 30 different data points to improve a database's integrity. Though I haven’t done this there are a lot of people that love it!

4. Data.com

If you've never used a database cleanup tool, chances are there are missing fields within your databases. Data.com backfills those empty fields with information it has on hand that it’s been able to collect online. In addition to rounding out your existing databases, this also frees your business up to collect minimal information on customers. You could capture a customer's phone number, for instance, and let Data.com use the name and phone number to fill out the remainder of the information based on its own information. (Note: I’ve found this information to mostly be correct) Because the data is so detailed, it can help businesses create more targeted email lists, marketing to one group over another based on the interests Data.com sourced from online resources.

Using all the tools above I am able to work my leads a lot better, not to mention know that they are up to date. This saves my business hours of work each week. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

What other tools do you use to help you keep track of your leads?

Published on: Jul 28, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.