Data: The Enemy of Tomorrow’s Sales, Marketing Machines?

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NetProspex’s CEO Michael Bird was featured in WIRED Innovation Insights blog on June 24th, 2013 with his take on the Salesforce.com acquisition of ExactTarget.

-EXCERPT-

“The true solution to solving these data challenges is the need for a comprehensive data management platform which can gather and maintain data in real-time. This platform must operate cohesively within – and across – automated campaigns, lead scoring, and behavioral marketing. Although an end-to-end marketing data platform solution has yet to be launched, these are exciting times for data providers to fix the problems brought on by increasingly complex lead generation processes. Offerings in the marketplace will soon emerge thanks to the increased availability of crowdsourcing data providers, cloud-based verification capabilities, big data analytics and advances in API technology.”

Read the Original article here.

-FULL ARTICLE-

Data:The Enemy of Tomorrow’s Sales, Marketing Machines?

Industry acquisitions happen for a reason – they usually address specific needs a company has that can be provided by the acquired party’s services and offerings. As such, we are currently seeing massive consolidation taking place with the advancement and availability of sales and marketing technologies. Recently, Salesforce.com bought out ExactTarget (coming on the heels of Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua) to make its CRM toolkit more robust with a marketing platform for email, SMS, and social campaign management.

Yet, the “dirty little secret” at the core of every high-impact technology within marketing and sales force automation is a four letter word that every business is struggling to manage: data. It is becoming absolutely daunting for businesses to manage the massive amount of customer and prospect information in one cohesive and closed loop. The problem is comprised of two parts: the scale and the nature of data. Information continuously flows in from multiple sources including live events, social campaigns, inbound forms, behavioral tracking or third-party acquisitions. Hundreds of thousands, often millions, of records flow at the center of sales and marketing automation tools, each data point triggering workflows and business decisions.

Simply managing the amount of information is a challenging task, but the nature of lead and customer data is decay, and data quality is the largest threat to the promise of sales and marketing automation technologies. Incomplete records are all too common, and sources can be hard to trust (88 percent of buyers use false information when completing a registration form, according to Janrain.) Furthermore, with 48 million people changing jobs in the United States in 2011, and data errors costing businesses more than $600 billion annually, no business is immune to the disease of bad data. Despite high-profile acquisitions across this ecosystem, no one company – including Salesforce and Oracle – has the proven capabilities to track, assess, fix, or maintain data consistently across all campaigns and touchpoints.

What needs to take place for businesses, and unfortunately has not yet been addressed by these mergers and acquisitions, is the creation of an end-to-end data management platform that is both scalable and can operate in real-time. However, the issues preventing the availability of such a data platform are twofold:

  • The vendors don’t have the ability to try and amass enough data fast enough or build a verification engine that works from within to solve this problem
  • Data solution providers aren’t in the position to deliver on a full suite of data management tools – yet. They are, however, in development since all data companies have to evolve if they want to compete in tomorrow’s landscape

The behemoths can continue to acquire other companies in order to scale their capabilities and build the dream of tomorrow’s lead generation machine. But the more complex their tools become, the larger the data management problem becomes for the customer. Each day, marketers are continuing to collect more information about their customers and prospects. How this data flows between multiple sends and behaviors to become a marketing qualified lead, receive automated messaging or move to sales automation by matching up to an existing record in the CRM system, is a true puzzle.

Efforts like de-duplication and normalization are just half the battle. Companies are still faced with the challenge of making sure all data fields continue to be updated in real-time so that when a change in a company or contact profile occurs, that information is automatically updated across all platforms instantaneously.

The true solution to solving these data challenges is the need for a comprehensive data management platform which can gather and maintain data in real-time. This platform must operate cohesively within – and across – automated campaigns, lead scoring, and behavioral marketing. Although an end-to-end marketing data platform solution has yet to be launched, these are exciting times for data providers to fix the problems brought on by increasingly complex lead generation processes. Offerings in the marketplace will soon emerge thanks to the increased availability of crowdsourcing data providers, cloud-based verification capabilities, big data analytics and advances in API technology.

Today, there may be plenty of data acquisition partners, but the true partner to tomorrow’s marketing machines will be a single, coveted data platform who can address and solve the daunting challenges surrounding quality data management.

As CEO of NetProspex, Michael Bird is responsible for driving both vision and growth for the company.

Read more: http://insights.wired.com/profiles/blogs/data-the-enemy-of-tomorrow-s-sales-and-marketing-machines#ixzz2XErJImuk

 

Data at the Core : A Take on the Acquisition of ExactTarget by Salesforce

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Read the original article on the Business 2 Community website

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It seems that the other shoe has dropped following Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua with the recent news about Salesforce.com (SFDC) scooping up ExactTarget. With their purchase, SFDC adds to their toolkit a marketing platform for email, SMS, and social campaign management. This move further condenses the marketplace, and has all of the players in the industry excited for what is next.

As a demand generation professional deeply connected to the ecosystem of marketing technology, I’ve worked with many B2B companies who leverage at least one of these solutions, or a myriad of other providers. What is clear in the work I do with these companies is that the success of these technologies remains contingent upon one factor: data coming together cohesively.  Creating automated campaigns and maintaining the data within them continues to be an uphill battle for marketers. Data comes into a MAP from multiple sources including live events, social campaigns, inbound forms, telemarketing programs or list buys. But how this data flows between multiple sends and behaviors to become an MQL, move to sales automation, and match up to an existing record in the CRM system is a true puzzle.

Frankly, for these systems to truly live up to their promise, a marketing operations pro (if companies are fortunate enough to have one on staff) has to understand the nuances of data and be prepared to address some challenging questions. For example, what happens when the company name is not the same in both systems? What are the matching rules? What if the first name is different? When do you allow the lead source to be updated or changed after it’s initially set? How does the lead routing work? What if you’re missing information to properly score the lead? What if the contact’s state is at a site location? Should routing be based on the company’s headquarter state?

Clearly, data is not the sexy side of these tools, as it is something you rarely see discussed in the onslaught of whitepapers, blog posts, infographics, and videos explaining the benefits of closed-loop marketing and sales alignment, automated campaigns, lead scoring, and behavioral marketing. To give credit where credit is due, Eloqua is a great champion of the importance of data quality in marketing programs, recently sharing a new video claiming, “Data Quality is the New Black.” They also published research showing that companies that employ consistent data quality see 4X the number of revenue and 7X the number of leads. Managing company, person, and contact data is the “dirty little secret” at the core of all these high-impact marketing technologies in our ecosystem, as it can be absolutely daunting.

One benefit from the SFDC/ExactTarget acquisition for data-driven marketers is the direction it suggests we are headed in. Imagine a world where your marketing platform is truly one with your CRM or sales automation system. Ideally, by combining the systems, the friction caused by data chaos is lessened. It only makes sense that the market would embrace a simpler solution, one that makes data management cohesive, but only time will tell if this dream will become a reality.
By Tamara Graves, Published June 13, 2013

New Report: Data Quality is Key in Engaging Consumers in the Digital Age

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A new report from Experian QAS, found that while organizations are looking to engage customers across multiple industries, most lack the data quality necessary to successfully perform daily operations or make decisions. The report found that inaccurate data is a serious problem for a majority of companies.

“To operate effectively across channels, organizations need to have accurate customer data,” said Thomas Schutz, senior vice president, general manager of Experian QAS. “Unfortunately, poor data quality is widespread, meaning that companies are acting on misinformation and hurting daily operations. To keep up with tech-savvy, fast-moving consumers, organizations have to improve the quality of their information to gain the intelligence required in today’s competitive omnichannel environment.”

Some highlights that we found particularly interesting include:

  • 62 percent of respondents are planning to invest in data quality initiatives in the next 12 months
  • 89 percent of organizations believe their customer and prospect data might be inaccurate in some way
  • On average, respondents thought 25 percent of their data might be wrong
  • Large organizations with over $250 million in annual revenue are more likely to invest in data quality over the next 12 months when compared to their smaller counterparts

 

Download the full report here.

NetProspex client Confio featured in DM News: Let Data Take the Lead

dmnews-article-worldata-bringing-netprospex-database-to-market

Read original article at Direct Marketing News.

— EXCERPT —

Confio Software, a provider of database performance tools, segments its lists and outbound marketing techniques primarily based on what type of database platforms its prospects are using. The goal is to make its messaging more relevant. Upon getting a list from its data partner NetProspex, Alisa Goldschmidt, senior marketing programs manager at Confio, segments each list by tagging each record based on information provided, such as title and database platform, and enters them into the database before sending any messages. She supplements her list with information from live events that prospects have attended, which adds a value that Goldschmidt says she can’t get from simply purchasing a list.

The first step is uniform among almost all prospects. Goldschmidt assumes that every lead is unfamiliar with Confio, so all of the company’s initial marketing messages provide an introduction to the product, as well as an opening value, such as offering Oracle customers a free trial or notifying SQL Server users of an upcoming webinar. The ultimate goal in this early phase, Goldschmidt says, is to encourage prospects to download a free product trial, because those who do are “highly likely” to purchase the software. For example, 32% of leads that download a free 14-day trial of Confio’s database performance monitoring tool Ignite turn into sales opportunities. Of those, 20% convert into closed deals.

After the introductory communication, leads will receive a score that is dependent on their behavioral and demographic data—such as if the prospect provides a personal email address instead of a business email address, or if the prospect attends an event. Goldschmidt says this scoring helps her prioritize the leads. Once the scores are high enough, she hands the baton off to the sales department, which will nurture the leads through phone calls or personalized emails. Goldschmidt says that she’ll also continue to market to those leads and provide them with valuable content, such as whitepapers and invitations to webinars.

“[If I didn’t have that data], I would be sending out much more generalized messages that did not speak specifically to the challenges of the specific database platform,” Goldschmidt says. “I don’t think my messages would be as engaging or as relevant to the specific person.”

Ultimately, successful lead generation isn’t just about what data marketers have on hand; it’s also about how they analyze and apply that data to generate insight that can increase the impact of their lead gen efforts. Understanding customer and prospects’ attributes and value can improve segmentation, for example; tracking their behaviors can help marketers respond with the right message at the right time, nurturing leads through the funnel. This all helps marketing stay in synch with its best partner—sales—to close the deal.

 

 

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Let Data Take the Lead

Lead generation is a tricky tango to master. Many marketers sway back and forth between delivering content that engages prospects and sending pitchy information that turns them off. But if marketers let data and analytics take the lead, they can use customer insights to attract the right prospects, boost overall engagement, and increase marketing ROI. In fact, 51% of CMOs and senior marketing executives list obtaining greater audience insight as a top priority for lead generation within the next 12 months, according to MarketingSherpa’s “2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report.”

“I think the biggest misconception [marketers have about Big Data and analytics] is that they need data scientists and a bunch of Ph.D.s to do it,” says Brian Kardon, CMO of analytics provider Lattice Engines. “Right now marketers are using Big Data every day.”

But incorporating data and analytics into a lead generation strategy isn’t a simple two-step. Here are three data-driven lead generation strategies to help marketers find their rhythm.

Initiate at the right time, to the right people

Marketers should use data to maximize sales during peak business seasons. Amy Fitzgerald, VP of marketing for wedding venue locator Ever After, alters her budget to do just that. Finding a wedding venue often occurs 10 to 12 months before the wedding. With the majority of grooms popping the question between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, Ever After sees a 40% surge in venue searches from December to January. So, the company increases its direct channel marketing spend by 50% for January and February, Fitzgerald says. On the flip side, Ever After cuts its marketing spend in half during the holiday-centric months of November and December.

“Lead generation requires understanding where the customer is in his decision making process and then investing appropriately at that particular point. You don’t want to invest too early, and you don’t want to invest too late,” says Charlene Li, founder of research firm Altimeter Group and author of Open Leadership. “Understanding where they are in that process is half the battle for lead generation. Being able to catch up to that very dynamic customer is the second challenge. And the third challenge is, once you’ve caught up to them, know what the right thing to say is.”

To gauge where their brides- and grooms-to-be are in the wedding planning process, Ever After primarily uses event and online marketing tactics, including bridal shows, organic search, and specific landing page URLs (a page for a Southern California venue may have a phrase like “San Fernando Valley” or “Orange County” embedded in its URL). The company also features pictures of its wedding venues on Pinterest, which, when clicked on, direct customers to that venue’s landing page.

Once Ever After has captured the interest of a potential customer, the brand can collect information about the couple and the wedding, such as budget and the estimated number of guests, through a customer quote request form. Ever After will then nurture the customer by following up via email or phone (depending if the prospect provided a number) or an in-person appointment to gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s wedding venue expectations. The wedding venue specialists will then search through its database of wedding venues, which range in price from $1,000 to $100,000, and find a location that matches the couple’s needs. Fitzgerald adds that an Ever After venue specialist will sometimes accompany a couple to look at a venue and even guide couples through the contract negotiation process.

“A lot of it is educating them on the process and actually setting some realistic expectations,” Fitzgerald says. “Hopefully this is their first and last wedding, so it’s a really high-touch process.”

For jewelry retailer Alex and Ani, the problem isn’t just seasonality; the company must also market to a buyer who isn’t always the end wearer, notes Ryan Bonifacino, the jeweler’s VP of digital strategy.

Consequently, Alex and Ani scores leads based on open rates and click-throughs, and then is precise when sending emails designed to entice a purchase. For instance, Alex and Ani isn’t going to target women for Valentine’s Day. Instead, its creative targets boyfriends and husbands.

Make the most of what (customers) you have

How prospects view a company greatly influences lead generation tactics. For example, the 2013 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens—which in recent years has been one of the most successful teams in the National Football League—focuses on retaining its season ticket holders. Conversely, the Buffalo Bills, whose last playoff appearance happened in 1999, uses demographic and past purchase data to score new season ticket holders.

“At the end of the day, in sports, we’re all selling hope,” says Baker Koppelman, VP of ticket sales and operations for the Ravens.

For the Ravens, Super Bowl 47 isn’t the team’s only recent victory. The two-time Super Bowl champion also has an impressive track record when it comes to customer retention. Koppelman says that less than 1% of the Ravens’ season ticket holders don’t renew. And for those who choose to give up their golden tickets, approximately 2,800 fans are on the wait list ready to take their spots. “Even at 2,800 it’s going to take potentially 30 years to get a ticket,” Koppelman says.

Consequently, instead of playing offense and focusing on attracting new customers, the Ravens take on a more defensive role and concentrate on keeping those elite season ticket holders by tracking payment cycles.

“To me, [lead generation] is all about relationships that you have with your customers. Make them disciples for you,” Koppelman says. “It brings people to the table who are sincerely interested versus us trying to sell them.”

Unlike the Ravens, the Bills look to single ticket holders as potential leads for the more profitable season tickets—targeting fans who’ve seen one or two games per year, who have enjoyed their experience, and who may want to upgrade to a season ticket. Marc Honan, SVP of marketing and broadcasting for the Buffalo Bills, says he’s gotten some of the strongest leads from customers who meet these criteria.

In addition to analyzing previous ticket purchases, Honan says that the Bills rely heavily on demographic data, as the majority of game attendees originate from Buffalo and Rochester, NY and South Ontario, Canada.

“We’re fortunate that we’re part of an organization that has a great tradition (ed: the team went to four consecutive Super Bowls between 1990-1993), and there’s a lot of passion around this team,” Honan says. “Our fan base has stayed pretty consistent and pretty strong throughout our history, [but] there’s always the normal absent flows of business.”

To get a jump start on converting single ticket holders to season ticket holders for an upcoming season, the Bills run a fourth-quarter holiday campaign, which consists of communicating with single ticket holders and fans interested in purchasing season tickets as gifts primarily through email. Honan says kicking off the campaign early allows fans interested in season tickets to “secure their place in line” and get a better seat location.

However, because season ticket pricing for the upcoming season isn’t finalized by the fourth quarter, the emails provide fans with introductory information on how they can purchase season tickets, but not pricing. These fans are then assigned a sales representative, who maintains “an open flow of communication” with them and informs them of team initiatives throughout the year. After the promotion, Honan says the Bills will run its general season ticket campaign until the team plays its first preseason home game.

To keep its customers engaged year-round, the team also provides content through email, social media, and its website, buffalobills.com. This engagement provides customers with value, rather than a stale sales pitch.

“From a consumer standpoint, you don’t want to feel bombarded [and] you don’t want to feel overwhelmed by the messaging,” Honan says. “It’s important that when you’re communicating to your fans you’re [offering] them something more than just the standard promotional message. So whether you’re providing them unique content or you’re giving them opportunities to win prizes, I think it’s important that your messaging offers something back to your fan.”

All prospects are not created equally

As direct marketers well know, the diversity of customers means marketers must segment their audiences to provide value.

“Everyone thinks that marketing has moved all left-brain, all logical, and all numbers, but in fact, a human being has to figure out how to treat different kinds of customers [differently],” Kardon says. “All customers aren’t created equal. Someone who’s much more likely to buy or a current customer should be treated quite differently.”

For instance, Confio Software, a provider of database performance tools, segments its lists and outbound marketing techniques primarily based on what type of database platforms its prospects are using. The goal is to make its messaging more relevant. Upon getting a list from its data partner NetProspex, Alisa Goldschmidt, senior marketing programs manager at Confio, segments each list by tagging each record based on information provided, such as title and database platform, and enters them into the database before sending any messages. She supplements her list with information from live events that prospects have attended, which adds a value that Goldschmidt says she can’t get from simply purchasing a list.

The first step is uniform among almost all prospects. Goldschmidt assumes that every lead is unfamiliar with Confio, so all of the company’s initial marketing messages provide an introduction to the product, as well as an opening value, such as offering Oracle customers a free trial or notifying SQL Server users of an upcoming webinar. The ultimate goal in this early phase, Goldschmidt says, is to encourage prospects to download a free product trial, because those who do are “highly likely” to purchase the software. For example, 32% of leads that download a free 14-day trial of Confio’s database performance monitoring tool Ignite turn into sales opportunities. Of those, 20% convert into closed deals.

After the introductory communication, leads will receive a score that is dependent on their behavioral and demographic data—such as if the prospect provides a personal email address instead of a business email address, or if the prospect attends an event. Goldschmidt says this scoring helps her prioritize the leads. Once the scores are high enough, she hands the baton off to the sales department, which will nurture the leads through phone calls or personalized emails. Goldschmidt says that she’ll also continue to market to those leads and provide them with valuable content, such as whitepapers and invitations to webinars.

“[If I didn’t have that data], I would be sending out much more generalized messages that did not speak specifically to the challenges of the specific database platform,” Goldschmidt says. “I don’t think my messages would be as engaging or as relevant to the specific person.”

Ultimately, successful lead generation isn’t just about what data marketers have on hand; it’s also about how they analyze and apply that data to generate insight that can increase the impact of their lead gen efforts. Understanding customer and prospects’ attributes and value can improve segmentation, for example; tracking their behaviors can help marketers respond with the right message at the right time, nurturing leads through the funnel. This all helps marketing stay in synch with its best partner—sales—to close the deal.

What is the most important ingredient in effective lead-gen and why? 1) Technology 2) Sales-marketing alignment 3) Branding/awareness

finding-the-infuencer-needle-in-the-tech-buying-haystack

Read the full 2013 Lead Generation Guide from BtoB Magazine.

“Technology. In 2013 the smart management of data within technology is what gives a company an advantage over the competition. Today more tools are available than ever to scale, cast a wide net and reach a large audience while capturing an inbound prospect’s propensity to buy in real time. Marketers can clone their best buyers using an immense amount of available data, and increase the impact and relevance of their programs. It’s never been more important to keep data current, complete and clean to fuel today’s automated and sophisticated marketing technology.”

Michael Bird, CEO, NetProspex

NetProspex in BtoB magazine

Webinar: The Art and Science of Lead Generation

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Today at 2:00pm, our Senior Director of Demand Generation, Tamara Graves, will be presenting with Eloqua and BtoB Magazine about the art and science of lead generation. Register here.

Lead generation is at the heart of everything a b2b marketer does. The sales department wants leads to sell. The C-suite uses leads to measure ROI. As a result, the marketer must be continually innovative, filling the pipeline with fresh leads, analyzing successes and failures and creating campaigns that are engaging enough to keep the entire system moving.
The Art and Science of Lead Generation will examine how top b2b marketers are building lead generation powerhouses that both fit their customers’ needs and deliver maximum ROI. When lead gen is done right, sales and marketing better align, lead and close rates improve, and lead acquisition numbers grow. Attendees of this webinar will learn:
  • How to drive more and better qualified prospects through the marketing funnel
  • How to score lead and identify the most viable prospects
  • How to use marketing automation technologies to take the legwork out of lead gen
While most marketers understand the importance of a well-oiled lead generation machine, they still face fundamental questions. What is the best way to attract a lead’s attention in the first place? How can you measure and document lead gen success? What’s the best way to execute a lead gen campaign? This webinar will answer all these questions and more.

Register here.

 

What’s New: NetProspex Data Enrichment for Eloqua – May 2013 Release

Custom Mapping of Field Values

For our clients using Eloqua, we’re happy to announce a new release of the NetProspex Data Enrichment App for Eloqua. Summary and details below. Happy data enrichment!

  • Custom Mapping of Field Values
  • New Credit Balance View
  • Improved User Experience
  • Additional Email Notifications
  • Last Updated Field
  • Optimized Error-handling

Custom Mapping of Field Values

You can now map NetProspex values to Eloqua picklist values. The fields that can be mapped are: Industry, Job Level, Job Function, Revenue Range, and Employee Count Range. This functionality resides on a new screen called “Value Mappings.”

Custom Mapping of Field Values

View Credit Balance
Easily see your NetProspex account balance (the amount of credits available for appending via the connector.)

Current-NetProspex-Balance

 

Improved User Experience
The user interface has been improved.  Input and output mappings are now on separate tabs. The field selection drop-downs now have type-ahead functionality.

Improved-User-Experience

 

Additional Email Notifications
Set up custom execution status notifications at regular intervals (e.g. every six hours) as well as receive daily, weekly or monthly updates.

Additional-Email-Notifications

 

Last Updated Field
To use as a potential trigger in data operations, including data synchronization with CRM, a new “Last Updated Field” NetProspex field is available, and can be mapped to an Eloqua field.

Last-Updated-Field

 

Optimized Error-handling
Error handling has been optimized to gracefully fail and retry at the batch level rather than at the record- evel for appropriate cases, including invalid (expired) Eloqua credentials, and zero credit balance.

Questions, comments? Reach out to Dmitry Grenader, Director of Product Management at dgrenader@netprospex.com

Join us at the Content Marketing Bootcamp in Boston on June 6th!

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Did you know that 71% of brands plan to increase their content marketing budget in 2013? Do you ever wonder how marketers become content publishers?

If you’re a Boston-based marketer hoping to learn more about this world, improve the skills you’ve been cultivating in content marketing, and meet other smartypants marketers in the Boston area, please join us on June 6th at the Westin Copley Place for the Content Marketing Bootcamp.

The event is run by the talented folks at Kapost and Eloqua (an Oracle company), and sponsored by NetProspex, Annuitas, and Influitive.

 

Here are all the details:

  • Thursday, June 6th, 2013
  • 10:00am – 3:00pm / Bonus Financial Services Session: 3:00 – 4:00pm
  • Boston, MA
  • Free for qualified individuals

Register here and tell ’em NetProspex sent you.

See you then!

 

The impact of data management on marketing efficiency and results

heinz-logo

Read the original article on the Heinz Marketing blog.

Dirty data is the silent killer of B2B marketing efforts. Earlier this week at the SiriusDecisions Summit, NetProspex CEO Michael Bird and I presented a series of best practices, case studies and both strategic & tactical recommendations for how B2B organizations can significantly improve their sales & marketing effectiveness simply with a little more focus on their databases.

A copy of our deck from the presentation is below, which even without the talk track highlights some very interesting research on database health across B2B organizations, some before-after results of database clean-up, and some specific recommendations on what to do next.

Read the original article on the Heinz Marketing blog.