Data is a hot topic at the moment, for every business, everywhere. After what happened with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica in April, along with the enforcement of the new GDPR, there’s no surprise we’re all much more clued up on data and very interested in how best to use it in business. Though data discussions often seem all doom and gloom, we’re here to share the exciting part of data. Used properly, data can unlock incredible secrets to exceptional B2B marketing. But where to start… that’s the question!
Data-driven marketing is a new topic that’s gaining popularity for many different reasons. Using data to benefit campaigns has already seen results and in many ways, is now essential to successful marketing with 78% of buyers saying they won’t respond to a marketing communication unless it uses their name. Nearly 80% of marketers say they’re driven by data, but 71% of them are missing data they need to run fully effective marketing campaigns- so where’s the mix up? We need to become data masters, with everything under control so we can wield the power of data to see the best B2B marketing results!
The big data problems
There are plenty of places we could start when looking to master our data, but understanding the commonly faced problems those working with data see regularly, seems like the best way to begin. To be a true master of data we must expect these problems to arise, so we can be totally ready to tackle them, and continue to keep them at bay.
- Data changes fast– We’re not just talking people getting married and changing names (which does happen all the time), we’re talking business data too. On average, every 30 minutes 75 business phone numbers change, 120 business addresses are altered and 30 new businesses are formed. (Staggering, right?!). You can easily see how data changes get the better of many B2B marketers. There is no one answer to sorting this problem, it’s just something we all have to deal with, and will likely remain a continual data issue for businesses focusing on data-driven marketing. Though there’s no quick-fix for this problem, a regular verification or data cleansing cycle, however you choose to do it, really is an essential to accomplish data mastery.
- Inaccuracy– This is another huge problem in the world of data. It’s been said that on average, data held by marketing and sales departments has a very low accuracy level of 10-20%, and that’s mainly due to typing errors upon entry and incomplete data sections. Whether in names, numbers or email addresses, we can’t have it perfect every time, but care and attention needs to be priority for anyone entering data. We will never fully combat inaccuracy in data entry, but incentivising your team with accuracy bonuses and using verification levels to double check records is a good place to start.
- Compliance– This isn’t really a problem, but it is a vital part of working with data. Ensuring all systems surrounding data (especially data considered “personal”) are compliant to the necessary regulations can be a lengthy process, involving strict upkeep. If you market to other countries too, bearing their own data regulations in mind is important also- it’s easy to get confused with so much to think about! But before the headache sets in- relax. Data regulations don’t want to stop marketers dead in their path, they’re just there for everyone’s safety. Keep calm, go through the rules step by step and you’ll soon have it all sorted.
- Storage– Though around 90% of businesses already have databases sorting data, a struggle for many comes in data storage. Whether it’s having the equipment sturdy enough to deal with very large data lists, or the ability to find storage solutions that allow compliant and easy data sharing between departments, finding the perfect storage solution is no simple feat. The options are certainly there for you to play with, but choose carefully; once it’s all in there and done, it’s difficult to change…
So we know the problems faced by those embarking on their mission to master data, which means we’re through the worst! Let’s look to what to do next…
Give it time
We’re not going to sugar-coat it, becoming a data master will take time. You’ll need to give attention to each of the problems listed above and decide upon solutions to streamline and manage these processes and requirements, and that’s just the beginning.
If you’re starting completely afresh with your data, then we would recommend sorting it into categories. Many B2B marketing departments have done this, making it easier to benefit campaigns with data later down the line. There’s a myriad of different ways you can categorize data, including by job title/function, industry, seniority, even position in your marketing funnel. There are some softwares offering easy data organization, or you can do it yourself, but the more organized you are from the start, the easier it will be moving forward. This process also provides great insight into your current data quality, quantity and use.
You also need to put the ample time into planning how you will manage data processes in your marketing department, and who will do it. If you plan on recruiting a data team, then look at candidates carefully, perhaps even ask them to take an accuracy test. Data is the lifeblood of a business, and is also very valuable to us as individuals, so ensure they understand the importance of data, and the respect with which it must be treated.
We know this all sounds so time consuming, you may be tempted to just stick with your current status quo, but we promise the results will make it all worth it!
To use data to truly optimize your B2B marketing efforts, you need to fully understand what data you need, and where/how you plan on acquiring it properly and legally. Having spent time categorizing and organizing your data into appropriate lists or files, you’ll have an idea of the data you currently hold, now ask yourself- is this all essential? The more unnecessary data you keep, the harder storage becomes, the longer it takes to ensure data is accurate and up to date, and often it puts you on a more dangerous footing in regards compliance with regulations. Only keep what you need.
A great way to know what you need is to look at your buyer journey, from an internal perspective. Team up with sales, and look at qualifying processes- what information is essential to qualify a lead ready for sales? Remember, you can always ask for more along the way, you don’t need to know everything at the start.
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When you know what data you need, look to your current processes for gathering that data. Whether through third parties, contact forms or from channels like social media, do everything in your power to ensure the data captured is accurate. Some of this is down to you, but arguably, if you look to methods like contact forms, it can be easy for prospects to fill them incorrectly leaving you with bad data. Combat this by making your form as short as possible- the less information people need to provide, the more accurate they are when typing it in; a short form means prospects don’t rush to finish, and they don’t get board or frustrated by answering loads of questions.
You could also try using further pop-ups or communications to get extra information after the initial form-fill. Once you know their name and email, ask what department they work in, so you can tailor content to their business needs. Then ask about their seniority, then their industry and so on. This takes time yes, but for softer approaches or warm leads, this is a great way to get the additional data you need whilst keeping audiences engaged with your content.
Ultimately, these measures help you in the long run, as you’ll not only gather data that’s more accurate from the off, you’ll also see better quality leads. These people have been engaged with your brand enough to provide multiple rounds of personal detail- they’re far more likely to become customers than those you contact cold.
Discover what’s possible
If we’re honest, one of the main reasons data is so important (and it’s a very “now” topic) is because of how modern technology is advancing, and the expectations of buyers in turn evolve to meet these new technical abilities. The world of tech is moving fast, and opportunities for B2B marketers are soon to bust wide open, but to make the most of these new systems, we need data. Specifically, high-quality, detailed and accurate data. It’s predicted by 2020, most buyers will expect online experiences fully tailored to them, not just by name, but based on previous behavior and more. We already see hints of this on websites such as Amazon, but this is just the beginning. Things will soon kick up a notch…
- Personalization– This isn’t new to many of us. We hear “data fueled marketing”, and think of adding names, job titles, company names etc. to communications (especially email), but similar to many newer technologies, we’re still only just discovering what personalization makes possible. Personalized content is starting to come into play, whereby content specifically meeting the needs and requirements of certain industries, locations, even individual businesses will soon be available. Personalization is already very effective, but it will soon offer us even more!
- Artificial intelligence– We are starting to see the effects of artificial intelligence in its ability to automate previously time consuming exercises, but as you would expect, this is just the beginning. AI still offers the world so much potential (so much, it’s almost scary!), but when we look to B2B marketing, the ability to create workflows, automating communications and sharing content based on behavior, without any human intervention is an exciting prospect. And that’s already happening, just think of what will be next!
Becoming a data master now doesn’t just improve your marketing campaigns, internal organization and audience engagement, it also sets you up for the future. So why not get started today! Lead Forensics can help get you on the road to data master-dom, and generate some hot, sales ready leads while you’re at it, by identifying your anonymous business website visitors. With contact details for key decision makers and a full online journey breakdown, you’ll be ready to make instant and impactful contact with your hottest leads. All our product data goes through 3 rounds of verification, and is cleansed annually, so you can be sure it’s top quality! Book your free demo today, and find out more…
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