Six Steps to Data Strategy Success


What does a successful data strategy mean to you? As a member of the Customer Success team at Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex, I talk to clients every day. During these conversations, I’ve found that our clients each have varying definitions. I’ve also noticed that the organizations that have developed a successful data strategy are taking similar steps to move the needle. By sharing these insider tips with you, my hope is that you’ll be able to develop and employ your own strategy.

1. Run a “Cleanse & Enrich” every two months.
As part of a data management subscription with Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex’s Workbench, you have the ability to run up to six “Cleanse & Enrich” projects per year. Cleanse & Enrich helps identify undeliverable emails, email threat risks, bad phone numbers, duplicate emails, and more.

2. Remove undeliverable emails and threat risks from your active lead database.
So, you’ve run your first Cleanse & Enrich, but now what? Take immediate action on undeliverable emails and email threat risks. Some clients will remove these contacts entirely while others will unsubscribe or archive them. This decision will depend on if you have limitations set forth by your MAP or not.

3. Incorporate multiple data points when deciding if you should remove a contact.
This one is more of a long-term strategy. Considering factors such as recent activity, industry, revenue, etc. is important when filtering your database. Once you remove the bad emails and send out a campaign, it is time to review the results. After you’ve sent several campaigns and reviewed the level of engagement, along with other data points, you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you should remove additional contacts.

4. Track campaign metrics and email health on our Scorecard.
After you’ve completed a Cleanse & Enrich project and sent your first major campaign, having a place to track all the key metrics is extremely beneficial. As part of our home run strategy, our most successful clients track their campaigns’ open rates, conversion rates, deliverability, etc. We then work with them on how to continue improving on our Scorecard.

5. Make sure your CRM and MAP have a bi-directional sync occurring.
By confirming a bi-directional sync is taking place, you are able to see if information is automatically being updated in both systems whenever changes are made. If one system is updated and the other is not, you risk losing valuable insight into your customers and prospects.

6. Root for the Red Sox.
I’m kidding about this last one, but it couldn’t hurt!

These steps serve as a solid foundation for sustainable success. As you develop your own data strategy, be sure to keep them in mind and share this insight with your team. You’ll be their MVP in no time!

How to Create a Well-Oiled Data Machine

Well Oiled Machine

As a B2B marketer, your contact database is the center of gravity for all your prospect and customer communication. It serves as an important resource for segmentation, targeting and buyer engagement strategies, but it’s also your biggest pain.

Let’s face it; marketing data management is a challenge for all B2B marketers. Just take a look at some of the findings from our “2015 State of Marketing Data Report”:

  • At least 71% of 223 million-plus records analyzed were lacking basic firmographic data like industry and revenue
  • 54% of records analyzed did not include a phone number
  • 62% of companies’ email deliverability rank as “Questionable” at best

There are various reasons as to why data management remains a challenge for many organizations. For one thing, marketers don’t have time to manually fix data, so they simply let the problem continue. What’s more, integration conflicts between your customer relationship management system and marketing automation platform can generate inconsistencies as there are no defined rules for what information overwrites another when a record gets updated.

Right about now, you’re probably panicked and wondering what to do. After all, basing key decisions on bad data can result in business inefficiencies, poor customer service, and inaccurate insights. Below are some tips on how to create a well-oiled data machine:

  1. Assess: Chances are it’s been a while since you’ve looked under the hood of your database. Before you start removing and/or appending contact records, perform a thorough assessment of your data. For example, does the current make-up of your database still match your target profile? Evaluating the current state of your database allows you to gauge just how much elbow grease you’re going to need. Don’t want to get your hands dirty? Click here to get a free Data HealthScan.
  2. Standardize: Data from diverse sources often lives in different systems and formats, making it difficult to gain a single version of the truth. Therefore, it’s important that you standardize all data entry formats and requirements to ensure fields are complete and formats are consistent. Start by creating consistency in how data enters your systems. For example, use standardized pick-lists on your registration forms, which will ensure data is correctly formatted when it enters your marketing system. Better yet, use automatic data enrichment routines on the back-end so you can focus your registration questions on buyer behavior rather than company firmographics.
  3. Cleanse/Append: Undeliverable emails, postal addresses, and non-working phone numbers waste a considerable amount of marketing resources and degrade the overall performance of marketing initiatives.  Append records that are inaccurate or incorrect, and remove contacts that aren’t your target buyers or don’t influence the sale. It’s easier than you think and our Onboarding Process walks you through it.
  4. Maintain: Effective marketing data management requires ongoing maintenance—it’s not a one-and-done affair. Records left unattended can rapidly become stale and inaccurate, so be sure to develop and deploy a maintenance program. Research from our aforementioned report, states that companies that employ consistent data hygiene create seven times the number of inquiries and four times the number of leads than those who do not.

Need help assessing your data? Click here to see how we can help.

Stop Playing 20 Questions With Your Prospects

20 questions blog photo

Raise your hand if you’ve ever abandoned a site after being asked to fill out 20 fields just because you wanted to access a piece of content. Chances are your hand is raised high above your head; I know mine is.

While frustrating, it’s easy to understand why marketers create these mile-long lead forms. After all, the more information they have about prospects—for example, business size, job title and annual revenue—the easier it is to validate whether they’re qualified leads. Yet, asking visitors to fill out a vast number of fields is the quickest way to turn them away. Let’s just say, if your visitors wanted to engage in a game of 20 questions, they would get in their cars and take a long road trip with a boring buddy.

According to Formstack’s 2015 Form Conversion Report, “Contact form submissions…dropped to a mere 1% conversion rate across all industries analyzed.” With four being the average number of fields required, it’s clear that obtaining even a small amount of information is a challenge.

So, here you are in between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, you don’t want to alienate your visitors, but on the other, you need all that juicy sales qualification information to help qualify leads.

Well, I have good news for you: You don’t have to choose between the two.

With a data enhancement tool, like our Workbench solution, you’re able to augment information captured on your registration pages/forms so you don’t waste those previous few form fields on this kind of data. Contact details are enriched on the back end, so you still get accurate, actionable data without sacrificing conversions or lead scoring opportunities. And, if you are getting that core demographic and firmographic data on the back end, you can focus your form questions on key challenges or buying indicators that can drive more effective follow-up. It’s a win-win situation.

To learn more about how you can enhance the quantity and quality of your marketing data, click here to take our free Workbench solution for a spin

Is Your Data So Last Year?

Did you know that more than one in three people plan to change jobs this year? According to a recent survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management, 37% of workers and managers plan to leave their current jobs, which means Joe from accounting and Kristin from HR could be updating their resumes as we speak.

Thousands of people quit, retire, or change jobs every year. So, what’s the big deal? What does that have to do with marketing? Two words: data quality. As people move from one company to another their email addresses and phone numbers change, meaning the accuracy of your records degrades. Unless you’re consistently refreshing your contact database, there’s a good chance you’re working with data that’s inaccurate or outdated, meaning it’s no longer valuable.

According to our “2015 State of Marketing Data” report, when it comes to record completeness, only 24% of the 223 million records analyzed were classified as functional or higher. 54% of the records didn’t even include a phone number. This means there are outdated email addresses and phone numbers undermining your outbound marketing campaigns and interfering with the nurturing of prospects and existing customer relationships.

Needless to say, when reading ANNUITAS’ “B2B Enterprise Demand Generation” report, we weren’t surprised to learn that more than 60% of B2B enterprises feel their demand generation programs aren’t effective.

Unfortunately, data attrition is a fact of marketing life. Marketers should strive, however, to stay on top of data hygiene best practices and, when appropriate, employ contact data cleansing solutions, which easily identify and remove data quality issues such as erroneous, duplicate or incomplete data from your database. It’s a lot easier than you think to start taking control of your data quality.

Rather than weakening your marketing effectiveness and top line revenue growth potential with poor quality data, take the time to clean it up. Not sure what’s under the hood of your database? Our Workbench solution can tell you in minutes. Try it out for yourself—it’s free!

Marketing Database Management Is Not a One-and-Done Deal


As a big enthusiast of aquariums and marine life, I thought it would be great to have a fish tank for my Customer Success department to share. Having something we can collectively create, maintain, enjoy and be proud of has been awesome. During our monthly water change, I came to realize how closely managing the success of our tank relates to good marketing database management.

Just like cleaning a fish tank, data management is not a one-and-done deal. Many organizations are under the impression that if they carry out a huge one-time data cleanup then they’re off the hook. They are, however, sadly mistaken. You can’t simply dump the tank’s water once a year and expect good results. If left unattended for an extended period of time, the water gets cloudy, gunk builds up on the glass and that smell – phew! After a time, everyone can see how bad it is. The same can be said for your marketing database if left unattended: nurture campaigns get clogged, you can’t easily segment, and Sales will say that your leads stink.

Ensuring data quality takes constant care. Like an aquarium, marketing databases are a living organism—they need to be fed, cleaned and regularly maintained in order to flourish and thrive. Contact records that are left unattended rapidly become stale and inaccurate, which can put the success of your marketing campaigns and events at risk. If your database is filled with outdated and incomplete records, you can’t segment effectively, which prohibits you from taking full advantage of content personalization and automated marketing. Bad data also takes a toll on lead scoring and nurturing programs.

With data playing such a critical role in marketing success, organizations must take an active role in data management. However, crafting a full-blown data management strategy can be a daunting task for an inexperienced marketer. However, just like that fish tank, you can get initial guidance on how to clean the tank, and the more often you pay attention to it, the easier it is to develop repeatable processes that create efficiencies and keep the water clean. An experienced B2B data service provider like Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex can provide the same initial guidance, as well as automated tools to get you up and running, to establish those repeatable best practices, and to get your marketing database as clean as possible.

The 5-Step Process for Building a Marketing Automation Business Case

dolla bill

As many of you may know, the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit 2015 (#MKTGNATION) is this week. As I was preparing for my trip, I started thinking about the importance of marketing automation and the challenges we face as marketers when trying to express just how essential it really is. The benefits of marketing automation are obvious—well, at least they are to you. Your boss, on the other hand, may still be on the fence about whether to invest in it; so there you are— stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Let’s face it: it’s difficult getting the budget approved for new technologies, especially when executives are already breathing down your neck to justify spend. But building a wicked strong business case—one that clearly demonstrates how valuable marketing automation can be— is a good place to start.

Below are four steps for creating a compelling argument for marketing automation, with tips for making sure your message is heard loud and clear:

  1. Clear up misconceptions: To those who have never been exposed to marketing automation, there can be big doubts around whether marketing automation software is a waste. As a user of marketing automation for close to a decade, I can assure you it’s not… but don’t take my word for it. Find out what misconceptions exist, and clear them up with research. Better yet, reach out to marketers in your network that are using marketing automation, and have them preach the gospel for you. The bottom line is that you NEED marketing automation, so don’t let inaccurate information get in the way.
  1. Create a sense of urgency: Did you know IDC predicts that the overall market for marketing automation will grow from its 2010 level of $3.2 billion to $4.8 billion in 2015? Or that 78% of high-performing marketers say that marketing automation software is responsible for improving revenue contribution? I bet that you’re aware of those compelling statistics, but is your manager? When building your business case, develop a sense of urgency that will make executives believe that they HAVE to invest in the software or you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage. Because you will be.
  1. Sell the benefits: CFOs and CEOs don’t care about the latest email campaign open rates. However, they do care about generating revenue and saving money…immensely. When selling the benefits of marketing automation to the C-Suite, be strategic. Sell them on the benefits they care about most—for example, ways the software proves campaign ROI, simplifies approvals, ensures compliance, and allows you to connect with your audience on a 1:1 level. Another tip? Ditch the complex marketing jargon and speak their language. Increased efficiency. ROI. And dollar dollar bills y’all. Sidenote: This Boston resident and ATL native feels perfectly fine using “y’all” and “wicked strong” in the same blog post.
  1. Share case studies: To make an impactful argument, you might have to reinforce the idea that other companies in your industry or those with growth patterns you want to achieve are seeing a return on investment with marketing automation. After all, no executive likes the thought of his or her competitor reaping big returns from a technology that he or she isn’t using. Look for case studies that highlight how someone used the software to solve a problem your own company recognizes as a pain point. Painting a clear picture is often the best way to prove a point.
  1. Prepare options: Depending on how formal your company is, the deep-dive analysis of each platform may come before or after you’ve gotten the C-Suite on board. But one thing is for sure: executives love options. You’ll want to evaluate several different platforms., so be prepared. Do your homework ahead of time and have a pre-vetted list of a few different software options that you think fit the company’s needs and budget. Then, when it’s time to go through the formal selection process, develop a spreadsheet that allows you to compare features. This can include things like shared IPs vs. dedicated IP all the way to how easy it is to create landing pages. Really, really new to this whole process? No problem. Send me an email at and I’ll share my checklist with you. 

Alright! Now you’ve got the basic steps to help you convince your company that you (desperately) need marketing automation. Next step? Drum up the courage and go for it. Good luck! If you’ve got questions about this process, leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @B2BLauren.

PS. If you’re attending the Marketing Nation Summit this week, be sure to visit us at booth #701. Swag alert– we’ll be giving away an Apple Watch, gift cards, and marketing superhero t-shirts. Hope to see you there!

The Time is Now: Let Data Take Center Stage


As each day passes, there’s a ton of new data entering your marketing ecosystem: Web registrations, trade shows lists, pay per click campaigns, events…and the list of sources keeps getting longer. While all of this marketing data can be an asset to your programs, it can also be a liability. Inaccurate or outdated data can cause unnecessary bottlenecks and weaken marketing effectiveness, leading to missed sales opportunities and higher customer turnover.

The best case scenario is that the contact information within your database is pristine; however, as we all know, data is often riddled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and omissions. While collecting information is getting easier thanks to technology, the volume, variety and velocity of that data makes the management of that data increasingly difficult. After all, data has an established decay rate of about 2-3% per month.

As you reflect on Q1 2015 and gear up for Q2 execution, it’s time for a gut check. Ask yourself: did my marketing data work for or against me? If you answered the latter, then it’s time to you made marketing data management a priority. Proactive management ensures that your marketing records are complete, accurate and actionable so you can:

  • Improve Segmentation: Complete business contact records allow you more options for segmenting and executing on vertical-specific marketing campaigns based on industry, or horizontal campaigns based on common challenges for companies of a similar size.
  • Strengthen Content Personalization: In order to stay relevant to your buyers, you need to speak directly to their pain points, challenges and goals. Content personalization can grab the attention of your buyers, guide them in their buying journey and inspire them to take action. Without complete and accurate data on your prospects and customers, your risk communicating with generic or insincere messages and calls to action that fall far from the mark. Just as with segmentation, the more knowledge you have, the more relevant your content can be.
  • Accelerate Demand Generation: Now more than ever, marketers are directly responsible for filling the sales pipeline. Poor data quality prohibits marketers from identifying qualified leads quickly and prohibits sales from having well-informed, relevant dialogues with prospects. Through data enrichment, records are filled with missing details or incremental information like company revenue, employee count, social profile links and website URLs, helping accelerate the sales pipeline and allowing for more relevant dialogues once a lead has been passed.

This is the year! Your marketing data has to take center stage if you are going to hit the goals just placed in front of you. Your campaigns are only as strong as your data—so prioritize data management and make your hard-earned marketing data work better for you. To learn more about how you can maximize the return on your marketing data, click here.

What do 223 million contact records have in common?


A lot, as it turns out. But before we dive into that, let me first say that today is an extremely exciting day for us here at Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex. And not just because it’s St. Patrick’s Day (even if we are feeling the luck-of-the-Irish since it hasn’t snowed in Boston since, oh, Sunday…). Today is a huge day because we are officially sharing our 3rd Annual State of Marketing Data Benchmark Report.

This report represents a massive labor of love for our entire team at NetProspex. We’ve got a long history (relatively) in B2B marketing data and our data processing factory has been built from the ground up based on what we’ve learned about managing company and contact records at scale. Each year, thousands of companies plug into that platform to analyze what their marketing data looks like – and to establish a roadmap for improvement. We aggregate the data as it spins through the factory (and at almost a quarter of billion records, it’s a lot of data) and use the results to compile and share with everyone (we hope) through our Annual Benchmark Report.

This year we built-out an interactive site to navigate the report – which you can get to here – that allows you to sub-segment based on your company demographic. At the bottom of it all, you can download the full report (or even better, go ahead and run a Data HealthScan to see how your data stacks up – it’s free). You can also join John Donlon from SiriusDecisions and I on a webcast later today where we will discuss the report and get John’s recommendations.

There were some interesting top-level stats we sifted out of this year’s data set. Don’t let this dissuade you from digging into to the full details, but here are a few of my takeaways:

  1. The amount of data we analyzed this year grew from 61M to more than 223M. That’s nearly a 4-fold increase. Clearly B2B marketers are leaning-in to better understand what’s going on inside their databases.
  2. More than 71% of records analyzed suffered from inaccuracies or incompleteness. Even by the most basic definition of completeness (including an industry). As marketers work to drive micro-segmentation and personalization efforts, they are going to need to fill-in a lot of gaps in their data to support it.
  3. Some stats improved (lower duplication, moderately better email deliverability) while some declined (phone number quality). But on the whole, I didn’t see a huge delta in any core metric. So, even with the massive influx of new data, we are seeing that most B2B marketers are starting from roughly the same place. It’s important to note that our report utilizes only the first-time data analysis done before we unleash our data hygiene and enrichment process on customer files.

There are also some tips from our Marketing Data Hero throughout the report – and some great analysis about the folks who are taking time to analyze their marketing data. Give it a look. We hope you enjoy it and welcome any feedback for next year’s edition. Here’s to (better) Data Sliante!

B2B Spring Cleaning is Upon Us



It has been a long winter here in Boston. Two more inches of snow and we will have had the snowiest winter in city history… a record I am certainly not hoping to break. With multiple feet of snow on the ground and 30-degree days being considered “warm”, spring cleaning had not crossed my mind. At least, not until last weekend when I was searching for the TV remote in preparation to binge watch Netflix (an activity I have become quite fond of during this year’s seasonal hibernation). However, instead of finding a remote under the couch cushion, there was leftover Halloween candy and a serious collection of dust bunnies. So despite the white stuff outside my window, I suppose it is time to consider doing some spring cleaning. After all, the calendar does read March and the meteorologists are promising a 50-degree day in this weekend’s forecast.

While the long, dark months of winter leave many of our homes with a layer of dust (and in some cases chocolate-covered couch cushions), spring brings the comfort of freshly scrubbed floors and neatly organized closets. As B2B marketers, we should also use this time to consider the cobwebs in our B2B marketing databases. This could be people who started the year with a new title, old email addresses, and the leads you haven’t spoken to in months… or even years.

On March 17th, we will be releasing our 2015 State of Marketing Data Benchmark Report, which will allow marketers to see the health of the average B2B database, and the absolutely critical reasons why marketers can’t afford to ignore their data pain any longer. We are co-presenting these results with SiriusDecisions and MarketingProfs, and will share the key steps for managing your data and what portion of your marketing budget you should allocate towards developing a data management strategy. Here’s a hint – it’s easier and cheaper than you think. You are not going to want to miss this important webinar. For more details and to register, please click here: In the meantime, if anyone has any idea on how to get chocolate out of polyester, I am open to suggestions.

Should Marketers Question the Quality of Ad-Targeting Data Providers?

An article appeared recently in the WSJ entitled “Marketers Question Quality of Ad-Targeting Data Providers”. The main premise was that marketers have serious doubts about the accuracy of some of the data quality they purchase from 3rd party data companies. Full Disclosure: I work for one of those companies, namely Dun & Bradstreet. This gives me a unique view of data quality (or lack thereof) within the AdTech ecosystem, as well as a view into how data quality and accuracy are defined (or not).

The three main points of the article were:

  • 3rd Party data is often more expensive that the value it delivers. This begs the question, “How does a marketer measure the value of an ad campaign”. Certain KPI’s like CTR and CPC are almost criminally inaccurate. Unless the product can be bought in a single mouse-click, these and many other KPI’s are irrelevant. This is especially true in the B2B space where the purchase cycle is much longer with many touch points along the way. The sooner that Data Providers and the Marketers/Advertising firms begin to demonstrate the attribution between an online ad impression and a name within a Sales/Marketing Automation platform, the quicker we’ll be able to lay to rest antiquated KPI’s and look to a more holistic view of the customer journey from interest to purchase to repeat purchase. Too often, “quality” 3rd party data gets diluted by a Marketer/Advertising firm which blends in cheaper, lower quality data in order to create a lower cpm. Nobody wins when this happens.
  • There are limited ways to verify the accuracy of 3rd party data. This is actually the cornerstone of the entire article. The value of 3rd party data, or any data, rests on how it’s collected, verified and updated…all of which lead to accuracy. Too many data providers offer data sets that are based on assumptions, presumptions and inference. Simply because I visited a particular site or conducted a specific search doesn’t qualify me to be placed within a certain Audience Segment. And it certainly doesn’t expose where I am along the buying journey and/or what caused me to begin the journey in the first place. B2C data may be a little more forgiving but B2B data must be purposeful every step of the way. At D&B, one of the key methods of insuring accuracy comes about from contacting, via phone and email, the B2B professionals that make up our data segments. Once verified, this data can fuel a marketers CRM marketing efforts (ie. email, calling campaigns, etc) and Digital marketing efforts (ie. display, social, etc). Obviously the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) needs to be removed for digital targeting. But this gets us closer to the “anonymous lead to purchaser” attribution that we are all striving for.

Over time, there is strong hope that 3rd party data will improve. Nothing improves over time without the coordinated efforts of dedicated individuals. However…accurate, actionable and affordable 3rd party data is available today. It’s up to the buyer to ask the hard questions about data collection and understand how to truly measure effectives (ie. increased sales).