B-to-B Spotlight: 4 Data Quality Must-Haves for Marketing Automation
As any experienced B-to-B marketer knows, data quality is king. Because B-to-B prospect universes tend to be smaller and better defined than their B-to-C counterparts, identifying the right prospects and tailoring the marketing message to their needs is vital. You'd better know exactly what your ideal customers look like, where to find them, and what messaging they respond to. This means you need access to high-quality data.
Recent trends have exacerbated this fact, and one major trend is the adoption of marketing automation technology. Witness the meteoric rise in recent years of automated demand generation tools, such as Eloqua and Marketo. During the past five years alone, Eloqua has received multiple rounds of financing and recently announced plans to raise as much as $100 million through an IPO. Marketing automation in the demand generation space makes sense because, when employed correctly, it can dramatically improve response rates, reduce costs and boost marketing budget ROI—not to mention nurture leads and acquire customers at astonishing rates. Moreover, it works quite literally while you sleep.
Effective marketing automation for B-to-B demand generation requires accurate and up-to-date business data. What good is setting up an elaborate drip-marketing acquisition program if prospect contact details are incorrect or out of date? What's more, lead scoring may be a highly effective tool for evaluating which leads get specific communications and follow-up, but what happens if you're sending out these communications to the wrong type of companies in the first place—firms in the wrong industry, firms that are too small, too young, or simply don't pay their bills on time?
This is where data quality comes into play. The way marketing automation usually works, as data is pumped into the software's database, the marketing automation gears begin to turn and key performance indicators (KPIs) are tracked based on the prospect's interaction—opens, clicks, forwards, etc.—with the campaign elements. These data points are all tracked and used to calculate the lead's score based on business rules established by the marketer.
But let's take a step back—data hygiene should start before the data enters the marketing workflow.
1. Define the right types of companies. Starting with the right initial data set can impact a campaign's results more than any other single factor, including creative, offer or design. Important questions need to be asked, such as "What does our best customer look like?" or "What types of firms have the highest lifetime value?" It can be argued that these qualifiers are more important than whether an email is opened, a link is clicked, etc.
2. Accurate contact details are essential to success. Sure, you may have a list of 100,000 prospects that you market to each month, but how old are those records? How frequently have they been updated? The fact is, data decays with time. Did you know that within 12 months, 66 percent of titles, 43 percent of phone numbers and 37 percent of email address become incorrect? It's likely your database of accurate data is a lot smaller than you think.
3. Data quality is essential for sales team follow up. This is the age-old junction between sales and marketing—the gap that solutions like Eloqua and Marketo help fill. Marketing automation tools take qualified and nurtured leads and deliver them to the sales team along with a score and contact details. This in itself solved a huge problem by connecting marketing activities to the sales process. But knowing if a lead is hot, warm or cold is only one piece of the puzzle. Isn't it just as important to know if the firm is a legitimate prospect? Or already a customer? This is why your data needs insight.
4. B-to-B data insight means deep, updated information on the firms. Chew on this: within the next 60 minutes, 12 companies will file for bankruptcy and 78 new businesses will open their doors.
This is important for many reasons. Let's say, for example, you get a fresh lead and you need or determine if the prospect is already a customer through a recent merger or acquisition. Unless you have access to a tool or database that can blow-out corporate family trees, how will you know? Moreover, in light of a recent ownership change, can this salesperson even call this lead, or should it forwarded to someone else?
Ideally you need to know who a firm is owned by or who owns it, how many locations the firm has, how many employees, annual revenue, and, just as importantly, whether this firm pays its vendors in a timely manner. In today's fast-changing environment, keeping that information updated, perhaps through a commercial provider, is more important than ever.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you a good sense of why having access to clean, complete and accurate business intelligence is central to your B-to-B marketing success, especially if you are using or plan to implement a marketing automation solution. Got any questions or feedback? If so, I'd love to hear what you have to say.
Rio Longacre is a sales and marketing solutions consultant at Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), a global provider of commercial information and insight on businesses. He can be contacted at: email@example.com.
Who’s Your Data? is a blog that aims to disseminate thought-provoking tips and techniques involving the use of data and database marketing to direct marketing professionals. Why should you care? Because implementing data best practices has been shown to lift response rates, improve analytics and enhance overall customer experience. Reader participation is encouraged!
Rio Longacre is a Sales & Marketing Professional with more than 10 years of experience in the direct marketing trenches. He has worked closely with businesses across many different vertical markets, helping them effectively leverage the use of data, personalization technologies and tracking platforms. Longacre is currently employed as a Managing Consultant, Marketing, Sales & Service Consulting at Capgemini Consulting, a premier management consulting firm. He is based in the company's New York City office, which is located in Midtown Manhattan. He has also previously worked as an online media buyer and digital marketing strategist.
Email Longacre below, or you can follow him on Twitter at @RioLongacre. Any opinions expressed are his own.