Why Modern Marketing Takes More than Just Guts

Making informed marketing decisions while keeping a creative edge

Modern Marketing

As marketers, we have to have good instincts.

We need to be able to sense imminent trends; to pivot with our customers and key stakeholders when we need to creatively explore a new avenue; and to embrace a forward-thinking mindset that allows us to keep abreast of the changing landscape. Some would say that this is the art of marketing.

But, it takes more than just a keen eye for market shifts and a set of sharp instincts to understand and effectively focus on our target buyers’ wants and needs. After all, if we make decisions solely based on our gut instincts—rather than evidence extracted from data— we’re more susceptible to inaccuracies which make our campaigns ineffective. This is where the science of marketing comes in.

I know, I know. Most of us got into marketing because we were better in English than in Chemistry in school. However, the investigative approach is now essential for making smarter marketing decisions. In fact, Teradata’s “2015 Global Data-Driven Marketing Survey” reported that two-thirds of professional marketers said they make faster, more accurate decisions when they use data to help support their choices. So that’s good – the majority of us know that smarter marketing comes from both art and science.

So what can we do as marketers to ensure we’re making informed judgment calls, without losing the creativity that makes our jobs so much fun? Let’s look into a few

  • Build (and consult) buyer personas: Buyer personas, which drill down the specific buying preferences, pain points, demographics, etc. of a target market, should be used by marketers to validate their hunches on who their target profiles are and effectively align marketing messages with known This practice requires more than just a marketer’s gut feeling about a certain type of buyer; rather, it takes quality data insight to execute these personas successfully. And it’s no small challenge. In fact, a recent study from ITSMA revealed that 83% of B2B marketers find their buyer personas to be only “somewhat” effective. The study deduced that this is because marketers tend to rely more on their hunches about their target consumers instead of concrete data. So do your diligence – pick up the phone and start talking to the people who bought your product and the prospects that chose someone else.
  • Collaborate with sales: If marketers don’t regularly touch base with the sales team, they are bound to miss a wealth of actionable insights collected from their colleagues on the other side of buying cycle. For example, if the marketing department continuously sends what they’ve defined as qualified leads through the sales pipeline, but the sales department is having trouble converting these leads, then marketing must be alerted right away. You can’t just throw leads over the transom and figure your job is done. Again, many of us got into marketing because we are more “socially inclined” – so go talk to your sales team. Marketers must be aware of the conversion rates of the leads they generate, as low rates are indicative of a larger problem, like poorly targeted messaging, an inaccurate business contacts database, or ineffective lead scoring.
  • Work on professional development: Modern marketers must also engender a data-driven skills set to ensure they’re taking a more methodical approach to their marketing strategy. I’m not saying go all the way back to your Chemistry books, but you have got to dig into the data. Today’s marketer must be analytical and curious. More specifically, he or she must be able to take an investigative approach to gaining insights about prospective consumers. Without a curiosity to find new insights – how else are we going to be creatively inspired?

Marketers: if you’ve got a hunch why not see where it leads you? But this time, use evidence to substantiate your instincts.

Improve Segmentation with Data Enhancement

Why better segmentation results in more successful marketing campaigns

Improve Segmentation with Data Enhancement

Just as you differ from your colleagues, each and every contact within your database is unique. Sure, they all share one common denominator—a need for your product or service—but what resonates with one contact doesn’t necessarily resonate with another.

A person in an executive role, for example, won’t find a white paper titled “Three Ways to Convince Your Boss They Need Data Cleansing” relevant because he or she is the boss! However, a midlevel marketer might find that information very useful and valuable.

Once you have your prospects’ attention, the last thing you want to do is turn them away by sending them irrelevant messages. Segmentation—or slicing and dicing your contact database into various buyer groups that share similar preferences and purchasing habits—allows you to deliver more personalized marketing campaigns and facilitate a 1-to-1 buyer experience.

But there’s a catch.

Most marketing databases don’t have the necessary contact information required to properly segment customers. In our “2015 State of Marketing Data” report 84% of the 223 million records analyzed were missing industry revenue info and 82% were missing employee fields. Without complete data records, effective segmentation is nearly impossible.

All hope, however, is not lost. By enhancing contact and company data with incremental information— such as company demographics, installed technologies, or key contact information such as title, job level or phone number—you’ll have the ability to work your marketing magic. This will allow you to send content to the right persona, personalize website experiences, and target offers at the time of engagement.

Find out if you have the complete company intelligence and contact details to confidently segment your data by taking our Workbench solution for a spin. P.S. It’s free!

Improve Your Brand Strategy

Five simple steps to help strengthen your brand marketing strategy

When it comes to content and brand marketing in 2015, you have to be authentic. In a world where information is at your fingertips, the best thing we can do as marketers is to be straightforward with our audience, know exactly who they are, and how to appeal to them. Gone are the days of inflated facts, excessive language, and casting wide nets. When it comes to promoting your brand, customers want a personalized experience. Here are five helpful hints for how you can improve your brand marketing strategy and win over the crowd:

1. Keep them in the loop.
Customers want hard facts, technical explanations, and the story behind the product they are investing in. Buyers are deeply researching products and their technology before making a decision now more than ever. It is essential to have a solid, yet simplified explanation of each of your products readily available to consumers. Telling your audience what you’re working on and what they can expect to see next is key.

2. Make a connection.
Consumers want to feel connected to the brands they are incorporating into their lives. From whether your founder has a dog or a cat to where your team likes to grab a coffee in the morning, customers are more likely to be engaged with your brand if you interact on a human level. They also want you to act as a resource rather than a commercial. This means, sharing relevant external articles, insider info, and behind-the-scenes photos through your social channels, as opposed to a constant flow of your product shots.

3. Keep it simple.
Gone are the days of flashy, overdone branding and design. Sleek, simplicity is on the rise. Take Apple, for example, their use of white space, clean lines, and lightweight fonts makes an impact on buyers and what they consider current. Your brand message also needs to be clear and consistent throughout your product line. The content you share should highlight both your brand’s personality and perspective.

4. Show some love.
There is nothing a person enjoys more than being part of the story. Brands who host in-store events and social media promotions geared toward celebrating their customers will see higher engagement and loyalty. I remember receiving an “anniversary” gift from Birchbox.com after being a subscriber for one year. It was only a simple keychain, but it made an impact on me as a consumer. It is this surprise and delight tactic that will set you apart from the competition. It doesn’t have to be excessive; it just has to be thoughtful and timely.

5. Keep it real.
Did you make a mistake? Does your latest upgrade have a glitch? Tell your customers the story. Explain what went wrong and what you’re doing to fix it. Humanizing the process will help customers to appreciate and understand your company, and even help many to forgive errors and setbacks. The more transparent you are with your audience, the more likely they will be to stick with you through the ups and downs.

Now that I’ve shared these tips with you, I want to express the importance of knowing your audience. You can spend millions on the very best content marketers, community managers, and graphic designers, but if you don’t know who you’re reaching for, these efforts won’t get you far. That’s where we come in. Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex wants to help you clean up and manage your marketing data so you can spend more time building your brand and telling your story. Check out our free data services platform, Workbench to jump-start your efforts.

The Hierarchy of Marketing Needs

Why data management is the most essential solution

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This saying made famous by Charles Dickens may one day describe the current state of marketing technology.

We have more technology today than we’ve ever had. Scott Brinker’s now-famous Marketing Technology Landscape lists nearly 2,000 technologies (up from around 1,000 in 2014) aimed at assisting marketers in accelerating prospects through their buying process. Marketers are now faced with more products, more opportunities and – unfortunately – more risk as they shop for technology.

For some, the ultra-saturation now gives marketers virtually unlimited choice in how to approach common challenges – and now that they have larger budgets, and more buying authority, they can tackle the harder problems. Armed with a historically generous budget to spend on tech, marketers are empowered to procure technology tools to move the needle for the business.

For others, the answer may not be so simple. Unfortunately, no playbook or grocery list currently exists for buying marketing tech. Each marketing department’s stack is determinate on their customer base, market, organizational competencies and budget (amongst other factors).

So then how should a CMO decide the best place to invest? In 1943, a psychologist named Abraham Maslow categorized and prioritized human needs in a book named “Motivation and Personality.” In this publication, he designed a “hierarchy of human needs” layering each need from the most critical, starting at the base. Maslow identified the base level as physiological needs, such as air, water and food. At the peak of the pyramid is self-actualization, a need for sure but hardly as necessary as requirements of the human body.

Maslow Pyramid
What if we applied this methodology to marketing technology? In other words, what solutions are most critical in creating a marketing technology stack that ensures ongoing a successful marketing execution?

As I constructed my pyramid, I thought about marketing needs. What was the food and water of marketing tech? What was the base level of the layer cake that all other technologies could build upon?

After careful consideration, I couldn’t envision a scenario where a marketing program could thrive without effective data management as a foundational element.

Marketing automation and email service providers are powerful tools in connecting with an audience and pushing leads through the various phases of the marketing funnel. However, without the appropriate lead data, segmentation goes away or goes awry. Am I marketing to a prospect or a customer? What role is this lead in? Which industry? And where the heck is this customer or prospect?

Despite the traditional adage of “content is king,” today content is finely tailored to maximize engagement, and tailored content can’t be delivered appropriately without the guidance of data.

Analytics and dashboards are essential in gauging the success of your program. Predictive analytics is even deeper, reliant on historical data before any insights can be surface. Each are vital to ongoing success but are reliant on operational programs.

Marketing Pyramid
Data management is the most essential solution in the marketing stack.

So what is data management? One might assume it means hosting marketing data but it’s much more. In fact, the true value of data management is two-fold: instilling data hygiene and enriching data to uncover rich insights regarding your lead and contact data. In essence, it’s about knowing your customers and prospects through good data. And, what’s more, important to a marketer than truly knowing customers?

Want to learn more about how the theory of human motivation applies to smarter marketing? Check out “Predictive Analytics and Marketing Data.”

Six Steps to Data Strategy Success

Cycling

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

DBNP Fish

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 LBrubaker@netprospex.com 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!