While lead enhancement has been low on the priority list for many B2B marketers, it is taking on a heightened importance as marketers turn to advanced tactics such as account-based marketing and predictive lead scoring to improve campaign performance.
Savvy marketers are using third-party providers to scour social media and other online sources to enrich prospect and customer data. If someone updates their LinkedIn profile with a new role or a company tweets about expanding into new markets, that can indicate buying intent, observers noted. However, this largely unstructured data has been challenging to gather and connect to contact information.
“As B2B marketers shift to a mindset of fewer leads but higher quality leads and a steadier lead flow, lead enhancement becomes critical,” said Derek Slayton, VP of Marketing at Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex. Dun & Bradstreet acquired NetProspex, a data services company, in January.
While marketers recognize the value of a complete and accurate database, most records are still lacking information. According to NetProspex’s 2015 State Of Marketing Data report, two thirds (66%) of records were missing revenue and industry data, two key components of lead scoring.
“Many marketers are still struggling to round out customer profiles — whether those records are manually entered or from a web form fill, trade show, or webinar attendance,” Slayton said. “There is still a lot of database incompleteness, but forward-thinking marketers know that they need to have that record fully populated before sales engages with a lead.”
Progressive marketers are also looking to append their databases to help them provide more relevant content to prospects and customers, said Maribeth Ross, Chief Content Officer and Managing Director at Aberdeen Group. “As buyers become more empowered, marketers really have to think about the completeness and richness of their database before developing a content marketing strategy. If they don’t, they’re just blanketing the database with generic content.”
Social Signals Go Beyond Job Title
To present leads with pertinent content, marketers need to understand the individual’s role in the company and the buying process. While the goal is to have every record include the person’s title, it is not always an indicator of their responsibilities, observers noted.
“For example, a person’s title might be IT manager, which is generic,” said Brian Hession, President and Founder of Oceanos. “But if you dig deeper into their social profiles, you can see by their certifications and the groups that they are involved in that they’re responsible for a specific area, such as network security. In addition to those indicators, we can scan for keywords in a person’s profile to provide a more complete picture of their actual job responsibilities.”
Enhancing information beyond job title can improve lead scoring, Hession noted. “If I’m selling a network security product, for example, and someone has ‘IT manager’ as their job title, they might have a relatively low lead score. But if they have network security certifications listed in their LinkedIn profile and as part of their job description, that’s a game changer.”
Social media profiles can also assist in targeting demographic groups, according to Hession. A client recently wanted to segment “young” and “mature” engineers and offer messaging that was specific to each group, he explained.
“We overlaid social media intelligence, specifically including education, to these contacts,” Hession said. “This allowed us to identify their graduation year in most cases from undergraduate or graduate school.”
Oceanos then analyzed the date range associated with each prospect’s bachelor degree, Hession explained. “Those who graduated during the years of 2003 to 2014 were considered the ‘young engineers,’ and those who graduated 2002 or before were considered the ‘mature engineers.’ While this approach will not always be 100% accurate, it is a creative way of leveraging social media information to accomplish the task at hand.”
As many B2B companies target specific titles or roles beyond the C-level executives, lead enrichment can help identify the right prospect within an organization.
For example, Confio Software, a provider of database performance monitoring and analysis software, typically sells to database administrators. Since the company's Confio Ignite product is a good fit for organizations that run Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server, they used NetProspex’s TechProspex tool to find database administrator titles at companies using those technologies.
Enriching Account-Level Data
While enhancing individual leads can improve targeting, enriching data at the company level is also crucial as more B2B organizations adopt account-based marketing. “Companies are looking beyond size and location to other criteria that could help determine which customers or potential companies would be a good fit,” said Hila Nir, VP of Marketing and Product at ZoomInfo.
Nir noted that company websites and social profiles can help identify top accounts to target. “Using my own company as an example, ZoomInfo considers a company a target if it has a significant internal sales force,” she said. “The goal is to be able to focus your efforts within the right companies and not just waste budgets and resources reaching out to companies that would never buy from you. You need a rich database to achieve success in account-based marketing.”
Titles can also help marketers identify whether a company is a good target, according to Nir. “Take as an example a company that provides content services. They would be interested in companies that have employees with specific titles, such as content managers and social media managers.”
To succeed at account-based marketing, Ross noted that marketers need to collect different and more granular data points, such as the technologies that a company currently uses and their buying patterns over time.
“This is particularly important for B2B marketers, as this information can tell you how they make decisions and at what speed they pull the trigger. This is difficult information for the sales team to gather, so it raises their value when the marketing team can bring this information to the table.”
As marketers get more proficient at data enrichment, they are better equipped to own more of the engagement process, Slayton said.
“Marketers are accepting more of the responsibility of getting accounts to a point where they should be turned over to sales, and the data has to tell the whole story to build trust that marketing is identifying the right target accounts.”
Enrichment tactics are continually changing and need to be frequently evaluated, Ross noted. She said that progressive B2B marketers are using tactics such as A/B testing to gain feedback on the accuracy of their lead enrichment efforts. “You may think that, based on the data that you’ve gathered through lead enrichment, that you’ve put that person on the right nurture path, but it doesn’t hurt to check.”