The huge spike in adoption of marketing automation systems has transformed the way sales and marketing teams engage prospects. As adoption and maturity levels have grown, the technology has also changed the way sales and marketing teams measure and track the performance of their campaigns. One of the gaps that marketing automation systems have exposed involves data management.
While marketers see great value in marketing automation tools and investments, many now recognize a significant gap in their ability to connect process to usage because data management is a challenging foundational component. By implementing the right strategies to harvest and maintain accurate data, marketers can enhance their campaign initiatives and provide relevant prospect and customer offers.
According to Ross Graber, Research Director, Marketing Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions, there are three significant forces that bring data management issues to the forefront of B2B marketers’ agendas:
1) Increased marketing accountability. “Aided by advances in technology, marketers have gotten better at measuring the impact of their efforts,” Graber noted. “With this visibility marketers are more clearly seeing the impact that poor data is having on program performance. Poor data creates a weakness at the foundation of demand creation that is almost impossible to compensate for.”
2) Rise of content marketing. “For outbound content marketing to be effective marketers need closely match the content they produce with the audience they send it to,” Graber said. “If they don’t understand their contacts they can’t align their content, so their content marketing will fall flat.”
3) Revenue promise of better targeting. “Businesses with strong cultures around data capture and data quality can use that information, to perform analysis and predict what is required to create opportunities and move them forward,” Graber said.
Graber reported that companies with strong data management strategies can realize revenue increases as much as 66% more than companies with average strategies.
Other experts agree that recent market shifts have created added pressures for marketing organizations.
“Previously, companies stored lots of data offline or worked with data across multiple systems,” noted Tricia Gellman, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Data.com. “Today it is imperative that data be integrated into the business process and provided to individuals to take action immediately. Additionally, there is more pressure on sales and marketing to produce results. When data is decentralized and separated from business process, it is hard to gain visibility and insight into success and as a result resources are wasted.”
Data Realities And Challenges
Key prospect and customer data at the contact, demographic, social and company levels enables marketing organizations to provide relevant information at appropriate phases in the buy cycle. But often there is missing contact data, such as a job title, which can prevent quality leads from getting in front of sales. Even if quality leads do get through, if sales reps can’t contact the prospects, then conversion rates will still suffer.
Beyond missing attributes, marketers also are challenged by the reality of data decay rates. SiriusDecisions estimates that B2B contacts go bad because of people changing jobs and companies at a rate of 2-3% per month, creating a constant stream of obsolete contact data.
“On average, more than 40 million people change jobs, in excess of 600,000 new businesses begin operations and at least 500,000 companies fail every year,” noted Yonathan Stern, CEO of ZoomInfo. “Accuracy in business data is critical to reaching prospective buyers. Marketers are challenged to keep their customer and prospect databases ‘always accurate’ and must constantly find sources of new prospect data to help them grow their businesses.”
Data Optimizes Marketing Automation
Data is really the lynchpin of any effective marketing program, and for organizations using marketing automation it’s critical to ensure the quality of data, as well as the efficiency of data processes.
“Marketing automation uses data for segmentation and targeting, message personalization, lead scoring and reporting,” noted Jay Famico, Research Analyst, Marketing Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions. “Better, more complete data means greater ability to do each of these things in a more sophisticated way. Limited or poor quality data means either they can’t be done or they’re done badly, limiting the value of a marketing automation program investment.”
While automation tools provide marketing and sales teams with key functionality to optimize campaign efforts, a platform can’t provide full value without accurate business data. Accurate data helps marketers lower bounce rates, increase open rates, and higher conversion rates and revenues.
Detailed data also enables marketers to better segment audiences to optimize their message relevancy. This is critical to support outbound marketing efforts.
“From the top of the funnel, outbound marketing efforts require a clean set of data that matches your target criteria, but most of the time marketers are faced with gathering data from multiple sources, including in-house databases, trade show interactions and other sources that can compromise the cleanliness of an organization’s data,” noted Tamara Graves, Senior Director of Demand Generation at Netprospex. “That data collected from multiple sources is in various states of cleanliness. Even when it stats perfectly clean, it decays over time. So when you start a program, it’s not easy to tell what data is clean or not.”
Additionally, accurate data is critical for marketers to properly score and route a lead. Experts emphasize the importance of defining agreed upon prospect qualifiers to help support desired outcomes.
“You must gather the right data from prospects and customers when you have the right to do so, with a value exchange, and it has to be normalized for effective use,” noted Jennifer Pockell-Wilson, VP Marketing and Demand Operations at Demandbase. “You need to make sure you are gathering the data that is right for your efforts – every company can use data that allows them to accurately segment by revenue or industry band, but your company may also want to target those that have purchased CRM systems, or their unique web visits in a month, or some other qualifying characteristic that can be hard to come by. The key is to discover what data you need and find a way to accurately and consistently gather it.”
B2B Companies Increase Marketing Effectiveness With Refined Data Management
- Demandbase created a list of target accounts segmented by industry. The company then applied other criteria they knew to be common in its customer base. The account list ended up smaller than others the company had pursued in past years, but it was more targeted at the right accounts and will yield higher conversions. The team researched points of contact at companies they knew were first points of entry or deal closers, and ensured those contacts for identified accounts were on file. These accounts and contacts became Demandbase’s focus for sales and marketing revenue creation for all of 2012.
- Clairmail, an enterprise-wide mobile banking and payments solution provider, needed to target new prospects, create a better experience for current customers and reduce time spent on chasing inaccurate data. The company worked with Data.com to update contact data in real time with updates from the online community enabling reps to connect quickly. Clairmail has increased dial effectiveness by 15%; closed 20% more deals and attributed 32% of its overall revenue from business data sourced from Data.com.
- ZoomInfo worked with Netfactor, a provider of search engine marketing technology, to build prospect lists and help salespeople prepare for sales calls. The company experienced a 15% in close rates, a 300% increase in email click-through rates and at least a 16% decrease in bounce rates.