Imagine you are planning a dinner for friends. You pull together your guest list and agonize over the menu. You make countless stops at various stores and markets to get the best, freshest ingredients. You want your friends to remember this meal—and your culinary skills—so you follow the recipe meticulously.

Now, imagine you left your ingredients out for days, or even weeks, or didn't store them properly, or used the wrong tools to prepare them. What could have been a fantastic meal would be ruined and those friends might end up running for the hills.

Fresh, high-quality "ingredients" are just as critical in marketing. You may have the perfect campaign in mind and you might be doing all the right things—but the results aren't living up to expectations.

No one sets out to cook up a disaster. But, just as ingredients that have gone bad will ruin your dinner, poor data quality is often at the root of poor campaign performance.

Not having access to the right ingredients—or data—brings its own challenges. Having a fantastic recipe doesn't mean much if you have to go rooting through your pantry or freezer to find that key ingredient you were sure you had someplace. Data quality also means being able to find, retrieve and put information to work when and where it's needed.

The Bad-Data Culprits

Of course, you can take steps to recognize and address the data quality issue, so let's start with a look at the three biggest culprits behind poor data quality.

1. Past the Sell-By Date

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image of Phil Garlick

Phil Garlick is vice-president of corporate development at ZoomInfo and a founding member of the management team at OneSource (now known as Avention), most recently serving as its president for eight years.

LinkedIn: Phil Garlick