Best Practices for Data Management for B2B Marketing
Good Data Management Ensures Data Is Your Biggest Asset:
No one denies the importance of data in today’s B2B Marketing world. Now, more than ever, marketers are being challenged to generate leads for sales, increase their marketing ROI, improve partnerships and communications between the company and prospects or clients. Data can improve your overall marketing strategy at every step of the funnel and lead to higher conversion rates for your digital marketing
While most marketers are focusing on getting more from their email marketing campaigns and optimizing their website, very few are analyzing the actual data that they have received. Not all leads are created equally and some leads are more valuable than the others. Marketing Automation tools have given marketers the ability to score leads prior to passing them on to sales. These tools also allow marketers to collect more data by using dynamic forms.
The following are some tips on how to collect the right data:
- Identify key pieces of data that are needed for marketing segmentation.
- Ask sales what information they need to speed up the qualifying of the leads for their sales.
- Recognize data points that you cannot get from third-party data providers. An example of questions to ask might be, ‘What software do you currently use?’ or ‘Are you interested in Product A vs. Product B?’
- Determine if you really need someone’s last name or is it an extra field that you can use for another question.
Next, identify how to collect the data and store it in your CRM. Data should be usable. It also should increase your lead generation efforts and not to harm them. Here are some points on how to make your data work for you:
- Data should be Standardized/Normalized. For example, if are collecting titles and it is a text field you will need to normalize this field at the point of data entry. Otherwise you will have data that you either won’t be able to use at all or you will need to clean it at extra cost prior to its usage.
- When designing the options for your drop downs, it’s important to not just think about the options you currently using, but also options that will likely be needed in the future. Let’s say that you have a drop down for industry type that includes finance, education and technology, but it excluded manufacturing because you aren’t currently collecting information for that industry. However, in three years’ time, that situation could have changed and now you have you have to include manufacturing. You now have a new problem. Not only do have to add the new option, but you also have to backfill three years of data where this option was not included. This could have been easily avoided by adding the extra options, even if they are not immediately needed. It will always be more painful to add it later.
- It is important that the form and data collection are consistent across the board. For example, on one form you have an industry drop down field with ‘Finance and Insurance’ as one of the selectable values. But in your list from your latest trade show, this one value is broken down further in banking, insurance, investment firm, etc. Adding all these values to your CRM will create a mess in your email marketing campaign for ‘Finance and Insurance’ industries. Either you will have to neglect deploying an email to the trade show list by excluding banking, insurance, et el, or you will spend hours trying to come up with different variations. There is only one solution, check and standardize your data at the point of entry to have a clean list.
- Flag bogus records by applying simple formatting requirements per field. For example, make sure that your email field includes @ character, the phone number field contains only numbers and a certain amount of numbers including the area code and country code (for international marketers). If regular expressions are supported by your CRM, they will be invaluable in complex format validation.
By implementing the above best practices for data collection, you can improve your overall marketing performance.
Another important step that may boost your marketing results is to analyze what data comes from what sources as well as the value of the collected data by source. Some ways to quantify your marketing data are:
- Analyze the quality of data by source. Examples of questions to ask include:
- What percentage of emails collected by what source bounce?
- What is the MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) rate by source?
- What is the win rate (sales) broken down by source?
- Evaluate the cost of generating the lead vs. performance (win rate). You may identify sources of leads that are very expensive to generate, however, they may drive most of the sales and vice versa. This will allow you to identify better sources.
- Perform a cost benefit analysis when you append the data. It may be cheaper to append missing data such as industry or revenue information with the help of a reputable third-party data provider than to generate the data using dynamic forms, passing it on to the inside sales to gather that data and so on.
Now that you have collected the right data and also analyzed your sources, it is now time to implement your new strategy:
- Segmentation: Matching your communication to a specific industry, title and company size can enhance your performance.
- Email deliverability score: By marking your bogus records and making sure the email address has a proper format prior to emailing, you can improve the deliverability score and, therefore, boost your marketing.
- Improved quality of leads: By having your sources analyzed, you will be able to refine, the quality of leads that you pass to sales.
- Content Marketing: By analyzing your target market, you can help your overall content marketing strategy. For example, if last month 50% of your leads came from the healthcare industry you can add content on your website for that specific industry.
- Productivity: By having standardized fields, you will free your marketing team time on segmentation. By appending a third-party data to improve data completeness, you will save inside sales’ time from asking those questions and by generating the right data, you will increase your form submission rate.
Finally, having a large dataset, that includes historical data points, can also lead to the need for data cleansing. The following are the pitfalls of data that should be addressed on an ongoing basis or at the very least a yearly clean-up initiative:
- Duplicates: There is nothing worse than sending two different promotions to the same person, or even worse, sending prospect information to the existing customer.
- Outdated Data: With people changing jobs every couple of years, your data may become outdated. A good practice is to keep track of the date created and the last activity date when they visited the website or opened an email. Keeping track of your aging leads can improve your performance.
- Missing Leads: You may realize that your lead generation needs a lifeline. If that is the case, you can always acquire leads using third party sources or by running a new marketing campaign. This strategy is useful for those running account based marketing.
Data is your biggest asset that requires your constant attention from form creation to analysis of your performance. However, it is useless without high data quality. To clean your data, you may not have the resources or time to handle it. Therefore, you can outsource your data cleaning needs and continue to focus on what you are doing best – Marketing!
Anna Kayfitz is C.E.O. and founder of StrategicDB Corporation, an analytics and data cleansing company. Anna has over 10 years of marketing and analytics experience with companies such as Oracle Marketing Cloud (Previously known as Eloqua), Harlequin Enterprises, Sunwing Travel Group and a few start-ups. She also holds an MBA from a top business school in Canada.