Maribeth Ross, VP Marketing, NetProspex
As B2B marketers, our world revolves around customers and prospects. We want their attention. We put significant effort toward understanding what makes them tick. We spend countless cycles developing messages that will engage them, and offers that will keep them coming back for more. A marketer’s job, after all, is about being an expert about buyers and having the know-how to reel them in.
You may have a killer webinar, the best content marketing strategy, or the world’s most informative whitepaper, but the success of these programs relies on your database. Sadly, results from the recent report by NetProspex, “The State of Marketing Data 2013,” indicate that much of marketers’ hard work may be falling on deaf ears. The study, based on hundreds of millions of B2B contacts assessed over the past year, shows that companies of all sizes and across all industries are struggling with maintaining their B2B marketing and sales databases. In fact, the overall rating across all participants was 2.7, or “unreliable,” on the report’s standardized scale.
How It Worked
Participating companies submitted their customer and prospect files for assessment across four Best Practice Areas: record duplication, record completeness, email deliverability, and phone connectability. Scores obtained in each of these were mapped to the NetProspex Data Health Scale, with a score between one and five and an associated rating.
Overall, the report indicates that much more attention needs to be paid to the management of B2B customer and prospect databases. Participants performed best in the category of record duplication, with the majority of participants virtually eliminating duplicates from their databases. The other Best Practice Areas did not fare as well, with participants receiving troublesome scores that indicate a need for focus in the areas of record completeness, email deliverability, and phone connectability.
Why This Matters
Anecdotally, we all know managing the data is hard. People change jobs at rapid rates, forms aren’t always completed with truthful information, fingers slip and miss a keystroke every now and again, and data is pouring into systems from a variety of sources. These factors, and others, all contribute to the problem, making its management unwieldy.
Marketers need to be concerned about the risks associated with bad data, including:
- Bad email data reduces the reach of emails, impacts send reputation, and affects a marketer’s ability to use this field for matching, appending, or deduping their databases. Reduced reach of programs increases the likelihood that a marketer will not attain their intended goals.
- Unconnectable phone numbers result in sales not being able to reach the customers or prospects, significantly impairing their ability to sell. Repeat problems with unconnectable phone numbers lead to low confidence in marketing leads and can increase the friction between sales and marketing.
- Duplicate records, when not suppressed, introduce the risk for multiple touches to a single contact, which can annoy or alienate them. Duplicate records can also wreak havoc on lead scoring if activity for one contact is being tracked across many.
- Incomplete records make deduping the database difficult, with fewer fields available to match records. In addition, a lack of contact data may make segmentation and targeting difficult. Without certain fields, marketers are forced to draw assumptions about the target’s role or company size and may send messaging that is inappropriate to the audience, reducing conversion rates, and damaging brand perception.
What This Means To Marketers
The results from the 2013 NetProspex B2B Marketing Data Benchmark Report show that B2B marketers are handling some aspects of database management well, and need to focus on others. The good news is that marketing technology is evolving and innovating at breakneck speed. Today, more than ever, there are more opportunities for marketers to establish scalable, ongoing practices for data management.
While companies participating in this study highlight opportunities for improvement, the attainment of healthy data is within grasp for companies willing to invest the time to make a difference.
Companies looking to improve the quality of their B2B marketing databases should:
- Identify and evaluate all sources by which records enter the database.
- Establish company standards for completeness, validity, and freshness of data; incorporate into lead scoring where appropriate.
- Explore methods to improve data coming from inbound sources, such as registration append services, input masks, drop-down selections, and progressive profiling.
- Employ best practices when purchasing list data.
- Conduct regular (quarterly or more) cleansing of the database.
- Monitor database growth and health.
Showing some love to your database in 2013 is sure to impact your overall marketing results. It’s not easy, but the rewards are great.