“Everybody Writes”… Kickass Content like Ann Handley

Ann-Handley

I recently chatted with marketing guru Ann Handley to talk industry shop and get a preview of her new book “Everybody Writes.” You can find highlights from the conversation below, and can pre-order Ann’s book here.

Derek: As you know well, Ann, we’re focused entirely on the B2B marketing space. Very curious to hear your thoughts on how the space has evolved and changed?

Ann: What? It’s changed?! Obviously we’ve seen major shifts in marketing, especially since I’ve been at MarketingProfs and certainly since I was at ClickZ. These shifts have been felt in particular in B2B. Online has become the new tradeshow. We’ve seen all the stats – 54 percent of your buyers will spend time researching online before buying. The buying process is so different now for B2B buyers. There’s a whole dynamic of buyers emerging much later in the sales process than they used to. This has drastically affected the role marketing plays and how marketers market. Marketers today need to understand the role that content plays in this new process. How do we offer up content that’s truly relevant and helpful to buyers? How can we position our solution at the right time and right place in the buyer’s journey, and when it’s appropriate for addressing their problem? This has really pushed content marketing to the forefront for companies.

Derek:  Your point on the website being the new tradeshow is so true, and a great way to think about it. We really are seeing marketing carry the ball further down the field. Today’s buyer is anonymous and isn’t looking to be sold. They’re looking to be educated. Companies are more responsible than ever for educating their buyers, and it’s not just marketing but sales too. Sales need to be more education-oriented.

Ann: Truly, I think sales has to become more useful to the buyer than ever before. We sometimes place a lot of the burden on marketing, and sales think they can swoop in and close the deal. Sales really has to become part of the educational process.

Derek: And with all of this, it’s really still best done by a person. I think it is hard – and maybe dangerous – to try to automate that one-to-one interaction and have it be authentic. I feel like we can get lost in the technology side of the equation sometimes and really the technology is best at helping us understand when, and how, to connect. Not to actually do it for us.

Ann: I love that you just said that. All the things we have are just tools to speak to buyers and prospects more directly. But it comes down to people. We focus on the role that technology plays, but the technology is worthless without the people behind it. It’s cliché, but true. It can be easily dismissed, but it’s so important.

Derek: We’re big into data, and I find it can be overwhelming for people. You get focused on the tens of thousands of people versus the one-to-one approach, which is far more successful. But it’s not just a numbers games. Automation can make you think it’s a numbers game – pour more into the top of the funnel and the “machine” will win.

Ann: We see this in the content space too. A couple of years ago, when content marketing become “the thing,” everyone decided they needed it as one of their marketing channels. Marketers started stuffing these pieces with keywords and putting out as much content as they could. You can be much more affective focusing on producing content that’s accessible and has empathy for your buyer’s problems. It’s about quality, not quantity.

Derek: So if you were to give your advice on the single most important thing marketers should be doing, would that be it? Quality, not quantity?

Ann: Yes, focus on the quality of your conversations. Think from your customer’s point of view. Don’t get stuck in the traditional campaign mindset, where you create programs and campaigns to use across your channels. What’s missing with that is the customer and thinking about things from their point of view. Are you answering questions for them? Are you addressing their pain points? Crowd Mics is an example of a company that has done this particularly well. It turns any device into a microphone. It’s solving a problem for anyone who puts on – or attends – events. It produced a video and showed such empathy for that moment when you’re standing up at a conference to ask a question and you can’t be heard. Always think from your customer’s point of view. In fact, I talk in my book about developing a pathological empathy for your buyer.

Derek: What are the other mistakes you see folks make when it comes to content marketing?

Ann: We talked about quality over quantity. There’s also this idea of random acts of content, rather than thinking about content being beyond just marketing. It’s really about considering the story you’re telling across every platform. Tell that story consistently. I always use this Lion King analogy – everything the light touches is content. Companies need to think more broadly about what is content – that could be your social channels, your website, your blog – and have a consistent approach across these channels.

Derek: You talk a lot about storytelling. How do you turn what you want to say into a story people can relate to? How do you find those unexpected stories as a way to help brands come to life?

Ann: I think one of the ways we can do that is looking to analogy instead of example. Look around at the things in your own world as sources of inspiration to create content. Jason Miller at LinkedIn does this all the time. He has a passion for rock and roll music, and he produces a lot coming out of that world with “content that rocks,” using music videos to highlight content. You really need to look at your own life. One of my favorite recent pieces of storytelling was Carl Sciortino. He put out what I think is one of the best political videos. He applies some of the rules of storytelling to a political ad. It’s about rethinking what’s possible. Can we take the rules of storytelling and apply them to an ad?

Derek: The analogy is important but when you can make it a personal analogy it makes it instantly relatable and brings a level of authenticity to it. Part of the reason you read the content is to discover how the person is going to connect the dots – from personal analogy to company story. And then you remember that story.

Ann: I also think using humor is another great way to tell a story. Brands don’t think about using humor enough. Brands will say “we’re not funny; our team isn’t funny.” There are brands that can help you incorporate humor. My friend at Cisco does a great job with this. He positioned a Cisco router as the perfect “forever gift” for Valentine’s Day – talking about how it’s reliable and will last forever.  It’s a great way of making a broader point. The strategic goal was to talk about reliability of the router. And this makes it memorable and interesting. Humor is a great way to tell those unexpected stories.

One other example of this – MarketingProfs did a slideshow infomercial for our B2B Forum in Boston. We were thinking of what’s worked in other industries and put it to use in our own.

Derek: Any other brands that stand out to you as being interesting in a way that’s relatable and spot on?

Ann: I think LinkedIn has done a good job in telling a broader story. When it first came out, it was an online rolodex. Now, it’s positioned as a place for anyone with ambition. It really did build an audience first, and then built a business around that audience. It has done a lot of smart things. I’ve often said that long after we’re all gone, it will be LinkedIn and the cockroaches. All the other social platforms could go away. They’re the dark horse. They’ll still be standing when others have dropped off.

Derek: You mentioned LinkedIn. Of course, they recently bought Bizo. I’ve seen this explosion in marketing tech and consolidation from the big vendors (e.g. LinkedIn) and tech powerhouses (e.g. Oracle). What’s your take? Are we heading down a path where marketing tech is delivered through a small set of big companies?

Ann: I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine! I agree that there’s been a ton of activity. What’s that Gartner stat? Something like by 2017 CMOs will spend more on technology that CIOs will. We’re seeing an explosion with marketing tech spend, and we really are seeing the combination of art and science coming together. Marketing is incorporating more data, and that’s making marketing departments a lot more compatible. That’s definitely driving it, but I don’t know what it will look like down the line. I’d love to get your thoughts on that.

Derek: I tend to think the same you do. I agree with your take on where it’s going and why it’s going there. And as a marketer, I think it’s fantastic. Marketing is far more strategic than it used to be. Marketing has historically had a challenge to be relevant, unlike sales and engineering. Now it’s become far more accountable. The marketing function has to be leading and has to be measurable. That’s definitely driving it. A dollar invested in marketing may return higher than a dollar invested in sales. As that happens, people spend more time and focus on marketing technology. And as that happens, the big vendors will (and already have) gravitate towards the market.

Ann:  Bottom line – it is positioning marketing to be a whole lot more influential going forward. It’s worth noting that I don’t want to downplay the art side of this. There’s more technology, data and tools to make good decisions. But the creative side is really important in telling those stories to connect buyers to those companies – the technology is what helps deliver those stories. We’re seeing a confluence of lots of great things. Marketing has become a key player in the C-suite. Back at ClickZ, marketers didn’t get the respect they deserved. I don’t think we’re going to say that anymore.

Derek:  Alright, so tell me about your new book. I have to say my team is eagerly awaiting its release. Why will it help marketers be better at their jobs?

Everybody-Writes-Ann-HandleyAnn: Everybody Writes, as the sub-title says, is a go-to guide for attracting and retaining customers through online communications. In our content driven world, every one of us is a writer. Our words matter more now than they ever did before. Words are our ambassadors. They tell our customers who we are and are the cornerstone of how we tell our story. Words are critical.

Writing is something that people have an emotional response to. Based on some trauma they had as  children, they think they’re terrible writers. But I don’t believe that. Just like people have to build their knowledge of basic tools, this book gives you the tools to be a better writer. It’s very prescriptive. It’s kind of a call to arms to recognize the power that words have – on our websites, social platforms and across the internet. They’re our ambassadors that say who we are. We need to up our game. Being a better writer is key to that.

Derek: Writing is like math. People either lean in and aren’t afraid of it, or say they can’t and don’t even try. It’s a cop out to say you can’t write. You can speak, so write it down.

Ann: It’s funny that you said that about math. In the book, I compare writing to math. I tell the story about an MIT professor who is a senior editor at The Atlantic. There’s a quote in the book that the rigor of math has better prepared these kids for the rigor of writing. They realized by the end of the course, writing is a lot more like math than they thought. It’s a matter of trying and learning the fundamentals.

Derek: One of my favorite writing books is Stephen King’s On Writing. I guess because I think I’m a writer. But I love this statement that there aren’t writers and non-writers. It takes practice and the ability to fail – the ability to throw away and start over. It also reminds me of Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art, which has as similar take on writing or any sort of creative process. It’s not about how you write. It’s about sitting down and doing the work and avoiding the attention deficit disorder we are faced with in marketing. I’m sure you went through it with your book. It doesn’t just happen – for anybody. You have to put the time in.

Ann: Funny that you mention On Writing. That’s one of the books I thought about. Stephen King is quoted a couple of times. Also Evie White’s Elements of Style. So why would you pick it up if you’re a writer? This is written for a marketing audience. It’s teaching marketers to write, and framing it from a content marketing perspective. It’s what might result if The Elements of Style and On Writing had a threesome with the Internet. Andrew Davis called it “the new creative resource for a new generation.” It’s geared toward marketers and our world.

Derek: I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for chatting with us today.

Don’t forget to order “Everybody Writes” by clicking here

Ann Handley is a best-selling author, social media and content marketing keynote speaker, the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, and a monthly columnist for Entrepreneur magazine. You can read more from her here.

Enjoy the post? Check out my other conversations with Joe Pulizzi and Scott Brinker.

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Marketing Data Management Strikes Again: Oracle’s Acquisition of BlueKai

NetProspex HQ

By now you’ve probably seen this week’s headlines that Oracle has scooped up yet another company in the marketing technology space. This time it’s BlueKai, a big data platform that enables companies to personalize online, offline and mobile marketing campaigns with richer and more actionable information about targeted audiences.

So why do we—and should you—care? Oracle’s EVP of Applications Development Steve Miranda explained it best: “Modern marketers require new ways of acquiring, centralizing, interpreting, and activating customer data across marketing channels so that they can enhance the customer experience and maximize the return on their marketing spend.”

We couldn’t agree more. In fact, the announcement reinforces what we’ve been shouting from the rooftop here at NetProspex for years now: marketing data management is becoming strategically imperative as the role of marketing evolves.

To-date, much of BlueKai’s innovation focused on serving the B2C universe for marketing and driving better, broader, multi-channel communications to the right buyers. But we see this becoming the reality in the B2B world as well, as marketers work to implement best practices for developing highly individualized marketing campaigns to prospective customers.

The buyer’s journey is changing. We all know that  buyers spend more time researching and refining the solutions they seek to the problems they have. And they wait longer to engage with vendors. In turn, marketing’s role is changing to better service today’s buyer. Marketers have an opportunity to better shape the buyer’s perspective during their research phase with thoughtful content and communications strategies that speak to their challenges. Buyers are then better equipped to highlight the benefits of putting a solution in place, prioritize the project internally, and “sell it in” at the C-level.

At the same time, the “ask” of marketing is changing at many companies. Marketers are more focused than ever on identifying and refining their target market to ensure they concentrate their go-to-market efforts on the right types of companies and contacts. Understanding roles, company demographics and behavioral statistics empower marketers to focus on the right targets – and to initiate the right interest, conversations and engagement.

We may be among the minority that think data is super sexy, but we are far from alone in understanding that a marketing data management strategy is absolutely critical for marketers to do both of the things above – that is, address the new buyer journey and fulfill marketing’s new role – effectively. Marketers have to maintain their marketing data over a longer period of time, while broadening their reach inside the organizations that are showing interest at the top of the funnel. They also have to ensure they capture (or get) as much data as possible to qualify and “score” the interest appropriately to avoid wasting everyone’s time. Marketers can no longer just apply band-aids to problems in their marketing data; they need a comprehensive wellness plan that ensures their data is optimized and always ready-for-use.

As all of this is occurring, new technology-driven approaches are coming to market everyday – and often being purchased by and integrated into their marketing platforms – to help them reach their would-be buyers, from both existing and new accounts and across multiple channels. Leading marketing organizations are diving head-long into adopting these technologies and driving efficiency, effectiveness, and incredible measurability across their marketing mix. As a result, they have less and less time, and fewer and fewer resources, to manage their marketing data as it all comes together.

For B2B companies, nearly all of this data hangs off their existing company and contact database. We see this every day as we assess, cleanse and enrich our customer’s data sets. The benefits to keeping the foundation clean are obvious (and well documented, as in this (Aberdeen report). Marketers need help managing this and should tap into the experts so they can free up their time to worry less about data and more about their marketing strategy. And that’s where we are more than happy to help.

Deeper Integration into Eloqua Platform Makes Marketing Data Management Seamless for NetProspex and Eloqua Customers

Workbench Eloqua

B2B Marketers Now Can Harness the Power of NetProspex Workbench to Assess, Cleanse and Enrich their Data Directly from Their Eloqua Environment

Waltham, Mass. – Feb. 25, 2014 –NetProspex, the leading provider of B2B marketing data management solutions, today announced that it has integrated its Workbench platform with Eloqua, the world’s leading marketing automation and revenue performance management solution. Joint customers now have the ability to quickly and easily view the health of the data fueling their Eloqua system and can then take informed actions to ensure their marketing data aligns with their ideal target customers and go-to-market activities.  The Workbench platform integrates directly into the data segmentations and smart lists marketers have built into their Eloqua environments and enables customers to utilize NetProspex cleansing, validation and enrichment capabilities to improve campaign results and create better engagement with prospects and customers.

With this release, companies using Eloqua can assess and enrich their data directly from Workbench without having to export it. This automated process is set up in less than a minute through the Workbench interface. Through a new Integration tab within Workbench, users are able to quickly pull in select Eloqua data, easily map the data fields they require, and perform a number of different data management tasks. It all starts with NetProspex’s Data Health Scan, which unveils critical insights into the quality of a marketing database, including email deliverability, phone connectability, record duplication and incomplete records, as well as targeting and segmentation patterns.

“Many of our customers rely on Eloqua as a core building block in their marketing and lead generation programs, but they can overlook that even the most powerful marketing automation platform can be hindered by bad data,” said Derek Slayton, chief marketing officer, NetProspex. “By integrating our marketing data management technology and best practices directly into Eloqua, we enable our customers to leave the data accuracy and completeness challenges to us so they can focus on great content and accelerating the buyer journey.”

View a video demo of the new integration or learn more here: http://www.netprospex.com/Products/ForMarketers.aspx

View the release live on Business Wire

About NetProspex

NetProspex is the smarter B2B data partner. We help marketing and sales organizations optimize their revenue impact by increasing the quality and effectiveness of their marketing data management practices. Thousands of B2B organizations rely on NetProspex to assess, cleanse, enrich and grow their marketing data in order to fuel high-performing marketing campaigns and accelerate the creation of sales pipeline. To make databases richer and more actionable, the company offers the industry’s largest and most accurate reference database of B2B contacts, cleansed with proprietary CleneStepTM verification technology. For more information visit www.netprospex.com.

NetProspex Contact:

Michael Powers

Events and Buzz Coordinator

781-570-8049

mpowers@netprospex.com

Agency Contact:

Kristen Leathers

Version 2.0 Communications

617-426-2222

kleathers@v2comms.com

NetProspex & The Stevie Awards: Twice as Nice in 2014

Stevie-Awards-NetProspex

The NetProspex team is excited to announce the latest additions to our trophy case: two Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. NetProspex won bronze awards in two categories in this year’s program: SalesProspex was recognized as best new Sales Automation Solution and Workbench was lauded for best new version of a solution in the Marketing Solution category. This is second year in a row NetProspex has won, taking home a single award for Workbench in last year’s program.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are the world’s top sales awards, contact center awards, and customer service awards.  More than 1,500 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition, the eighth annual. The awards were presented during a gala banquet on Friday, Feb. 21 in Las Vegas.

We are thrilled to celebrate 2x the awards in this year’s program, and view our growing success as yet another proof point that marketing and sales teams can benefit tremendously form solutions that help them with the often-daunting task of marketing data management. Both SalesProspex and Workbench play an important role in helping teams maintain their marketing and sales databases, add important segmentation data to drive more targeted programs, and continually ensure data does its job contributing to revenue goals.

Five Reasons to Fall In Love with Marketing Data Management

hearts

Valentine’s Day is a day when couples shower each other with flowers and gifts while singles catch up on romantic comedies and pour some wine. But for us B2B marketers, Cupid’s holiday is a great time to count the ways we love our biggest love: marketing data management.

Marketing data management refers to best practices that ensure that your marketing database is unified, accurate and actionable, rather than dirtied with incomplete contacts or  incorrect information.  Now that we have that down, let’s explore the top five reasons to fall in love with marketing data management just in time for V-Day.

  1. Higher Deliverability Scores: As marketers, we are always cognoscente of our deliverability scores… after all, they’re living and breathing ratings on how well you’re doing your job. Who hasn’t done a happy dance when their deliverability score went up a few points? Implementing a strong data management strategy allows you to feel confident that the email addresses in your database are accurate.
  2. Better targeting/ segmentation: Having complete business contact records allow you more options for segmenting and delivering targeted messaging. For example, having the industry information for a contact allows vertical-specific messaging for outbound marketing.
  3. More relevant conversations: Best-in-class demand generation starts with good data.  Comprehensive records allow you to serve up relevant content and engage in the right conversations when a particular contact visits your website.
  4. Higher conversions: When you have incomplete data, your programs aren’t reaching their fullest potential. If each contact in your database has a correct, complete profile, you’ll be able to deliver more targeted messaging and a have higher probability for success .
  5. Stronger sales and marketing alignment:  At the end of the day, it’s all about the quality of the leads you pass to sales. Marketers pride themselves on their brilliant lead scoring models to know exactly when a prospect is ready to buy. We have all experienced days when we send the hottest of leads to sales and (uh oh!), the phone number is invalid.  If it happens more than once, sales teams lose interest in the leads that come from marketing because the information isn’t accurate.

Like fine wine or aged cheese, we’ve developed a real love for marketing data management. Tell us… why have you? Share in the comments below.

NetProspex Recognized with Hire Power Award from Inc. Magazine

Hire Power Pictures

Marketing Data Services Provider Ranked 8th in Massachusetts and 13th Nationally in Companies Leading the Way in Creating Jobs and Bolstering the Country’s Economic Viability

Waltham, Mass. – Oct. 24, 2013  –  NetProspex, the leading provider of B2B sales and marketing data services, today announced it has been honored with a prestigious Hire Power award from Inc. Magazine, which recognizes private companies that are leading the way in creating American jobs. NetProspex was listed 8th in Massachusetts and 13th in the top Business Products & Services category.

NetProspex has more than doubled its employee base since the end of 2011, now at 115, and continues to hire at an aggressive rate to keep pace with its 75 percent year over year revenue growth. With open jobs across sales, development, and customer support, the company expects to bring on an additional 15 employees before year end.  In addition to the Hire Power Awards, the company has also been recognized as a top place to work in greater Boston by The Boston Globe and The Boston Business Journal due to its engaging culture, comprehensive benefits packages and valuable professional development programs.

“We take great pride in fostering an environment that not only makes NetProspex a great place for our employees to come to work every day, but also that contributes to the growth of the company and the greater economy,” said Michael C. Bird, CEO of NetProspex. “It is a great honor to be recognized by Inc. as a top job creator and serves as further validation of our continued, exponential growth.”

Now in its second year, the Hire Power Awards have garnered much attention for shining a national spotlight on the crucial role private businesses play in creating jobs and bolstering the country’s economic vitality.  NetProspex joins many other high-growth, well-respected companies on the 2013 list, including Wayfair.com, TransPerfect, and Vivint.

“No company goes into business simply to create jobs. Jobs are a by-product of success and growth—and historically, America’s fastest-growing employers and most important job creators have been entrepreneurs,” said Eric Schurenberg, editor-in-chief of Inc. “At Inc. we have been writing about and advising entrepreneurs for more than 30 years, and it only makes sense that Inc. would be the first to pay tribute to company founders not just for their business prowess but also for their immense contribution to the welfare of U.S. workers and the vitality of the U.S. economy.”

NetProspex and all other award honorees will be featured in the November issue of Inc. Magazine and on Inc.com.

About NetProspex

NetProspex is the smarter B2B data partner, helping marketing and sales organizations optimize their revenue impact by lowering the barriers to database management. Thousands of B2B organizations rely on NetProspex to acquire targeted prospects to fuel high-performing marketing campaigns and create sales pipeline. At the core of NetProspex is an innovative crowd-sourced database, cleansed with proprietary CleneStepTM verification technology. The company’s free Data HealthScan offers insights about database accuracy and relevance, while CleneProspex ensures valid contact information. Marketers can enhance data with demographic and firmographic information, including specific technologies used at target accounts. For more information visit www.netprospex.com.

Agency Contact:

Katie Martell

Version 2.0 Communications

617-426-2222

kmartell@v2comms.com

NetProspex Contact:

Michael Powers

Events and Buzz Coordinator

781-570-8049

mpowers@netprospex.com

Resolve to Have a Better Contact Database in 2013

2013

No matter what your marketing segment or initiative, your database is the cornerstone of your overall program’s performance. Follow these tips to revamp your data wellness going into 2013 and reap the benefits.

Read the full article in Chief Marketer Magazine

Cut the fat: Does your contact database contain more icky stuff than the menu at a fast food restaurant? I bet it does.  Unfortunately, what started out as good data likely transformed over time. In fact, a study conducted by NetProspex found that business contact records decay at two percent a month, and SiriusDecisions has reported that up to 25% of a contact database goes bad each year. That’s enough to seriously stack the scale against you, which is why it’s important to identify where there is fat in your database—incomplete, duplicate or inaccurate contact records—and cut it out of your diet.  While a large database is great, this kind of fat kills conversion rates and introduces risk around sender reputation, inefficiencies in sales follow up, and lead scoring problems.

Eat healthy: Once you’ve kicked that nasty fatty data to the curb, you’ll have a lot of room left to fill up on the good stuff. That’s clean, healthy data that will give your marketing campaigns the strength and energy they need to be successful. Consider all the sources by which data comes into your database and develop a plan to maintain high standards about the contacts that enter. This means taking supplements when necessary—augmenting inbound form data to ensure that it’s complete, progressive profiling to build out gaps, and adding additional contact intelligence to improve your targeting and lead scoring. When you’ve done this, you’ll begin to see some pretty positive results quickly—in fact targeted marketing campaigns (fueled by clean data) have been proven to cost nearly 3.6 times less than untargeted campaigns.

Exercise regularly: Data hygiene, just like exercise, is something that needs to be done on a regular basis to ensure optimal health. This can be done in a variety of ways, including instituting a quarterly assessment of database health, developing steps to cleanse and enhance data, or working with a third-party partner (think of them as your personal trainer) to make sure that you’re sticking to your wellness goals.

Anyone who has made New Year’s resolutions in the past knows how easy they can be to break, but if you can stick to these three pillars, you’ll ensure that your database has the strength it needs to support your ambitious 2013 marketing goals.

 

Why is incomplete data a fact of life in marketing automation?

broken_gear

By Dmitry Grenader, Director of Product Management, NetProspex

This article is in response to our new Data Enrichment App for Eloqua

What can you, modern marketers, learn from a data player like NetProspex? I mean, come on, you have already turned your lead generation into a battlefield-ready machine. You have tuned your forms perfectly for frictionless conversion.  You have convinced the rest of the exec team to invest in a kick-ass Marketing Automation software. The marketing factory is humming, leads are scored and routed, nurturing programs are in place.

The factory is humming.

Think of your demand generation as a factory for a moment.  The most basic element is a “lead” (or a contact). You attract, create, manage, cultivate, and refine them. You have them moved from conveyer belt to conveyer belt until the worthy ones are wrapped and shipped to sales for follow-up.  But often, what you know about each contact is limited – mainly by the need to keep forms short and by the necessity to keep the lead-gen entry barrier low. You certainly have the basics like name, email and company. Sometimes you have title and company size, but not always. Not having complete details seems to be one of those “facts of life” limitations for marketers.

There’s a better way.

I never understood why it had to be this way. At NetProspex, we believe in a world where you as a marketer have actionable data at your fingertips – firmographics, like industry, company revenue and headcount, as well as detailed contact information – available to enrich each record. This opens new vistas and possibilities for you in lead-scoring, routing, campaign targeting, and for various other higher-consciousness programs you have not thought of yet.

Think of this data augmentation as enrichment for your contact data. It’s available from premier B2B data services companies like ours, but here are a few aspects to consider, to help you know that you are getting the real thing.

1. Data quality: Data cleanliness is of paramount importance today.  Lists are a dime a dozen, and a ton of new-fangled data players exist with more of the same, low quality information. Look for a partner who has a documented, sophisticated, and believable process for record cleaning. (Okay okay, I’m plugging our CleneStepTM validation process. Marketers love it.)

2. Level of automation: The data augmentation you choose needs to natively work and integrate with your Marketing Automation System. It also needs to work in real-time. The good news is that marketing automation companies are taking a page from other SaaS players and have introduced marketplaces like the Eloqua AppCloud  and Marketo Launchpoint to deliver greater value through integrated partner applications. More resources are available than ever, and more tools are added every week

3. Control: This is critical! When designing workflows to add data to your campaigns, you should have full control over how the data is augmented, what is added or overwritten, and when. Ultimately, you want the ability to configure this process to fit your organization’s unique approach to marketing data.

4. Simplicity: If people start talking to you about “paradigm shifts”, and the need to “buy into the new vision” – run the other way.  Data enrichment needs to be simple.  It is a utility that knows its place, and should work in tandem with your lead scoring, followup, and other automated systems.  Data enrichment should not require you to reengineer your world.

5. Price: Everything in life comes at a price. Do make sure that you receive volume discounts, and the pricing package is tuned to your needs. Getting technical for a moment, we priced our Data Enrichment App by records matched – not by how many attempts are made to find a match. We believe marketers should not have to pay an arm and a leg for better, more actionable data.

I enjoy the chance to speak with modern marketers whenever possible. I want to hear about what lead data issues you face, your wish-list of B2B data services and tools, and how we can continue to empower marketers to get better results from their marketing data. I can be reached at dgrenader@netprospex.com or @dgrenader on Twitter.

Shameless plug: we worked really hard on the new Data Enrichment App for Eloqua! The app appends and normalizes data from completed forms on your website, or currently within your programs and campaigns. Check it out, and try it free for two months if you sign up before December 31st.

NetProspex Partners With Eloqua to Offer Data Enrichment Connector

NetProspex

New Eloqua AppCloud App Enhances Existing Contact Data and Form Registrations to Significantly Improve B2B Marketing Data Completeness and Effectiveness

WALTHAM, MA–(Nov 7, 2012) – NetProspex, the leading provider of B2B contact data services, today announced the launch of theNetProspex Data Enrichment Connector for Eloqua. This new app installs into the Eloqua environment to enrich contacts by appending and normalizing critical information about the contact and company. Marketers can now append data such as job title or industry in real-time behind a registration form, or add key information to existing contacts in Eloqua programs and campaigns.

The app enables Eloqua users to:

  • Segment and score leads faster
  • Reduce the number of fields on a registration form
  • Increase conversion rates
  • Raise the quality of their current marketing database

Given the variety of sources marketers rely on for collecting lead data, records often miss critical fields such as industry, company size, or job title. This incomplete data poses a problem to modern marketers, who rely on full and complete contact records for lead scoring, lead routing, and targeted messaging. As 88 percent of buyers have admitted to giving incorrect profile information on registration forms, marketers are struggling with inaccurate data. With a significant portion of B2B leads now coming through such forms, it is increasingly important for marketers to enrich profile information from their forms and enhance their existing marketing database.

The NetProspex Data Enrichment Connector for Eloqua matches incomplete records from an Eloqua database or form submission with NetProspex’s crowd-sourced, verified business contact database. While other offerings often match only by email address, this new tool offers Progressive Matching, searching first by email, and then by a combination of additional fields until a match is made. This greatly increases match rates for marketing clients.

Additional features include:

  • 20 minute set-up within the Eloqua environment
  • Normalization and categorization of data fields
  • Addition of firmographic and demographic information including job title, job level, industry, address, employee count, revenue, and more to help classify and score lead records

“The NetProspex Data Enrichment connector for Eloqua gives our lead scoring and segmentation a boost by adding key contact and company information to records in our Eloqua database, and in real-time to our form submissions,” said Ken Evans, director of demand generation at Demandware.

“A marketing database represents millions of dollars of our customer’s budget, as it is the result of all of their marketing activity. Our customers spend a lot of time and energy growing their contact databases, and just because data is incomplete or inaccurate doesn’t mean that those efforts have gone to waste,” said Gary Halliwell, CEO of NetProspex. “This new tool allows B2B Eloqua users to measurably enrich their data using industry-leading clean contact data from NetProspex in order to maximize the value they receive from their database.”

“Clean data is the clearly the foundation of modern marketing, yet only a small number of marketers can really classify their own data as accurate, relevant, and valid,” said Steve Woods, CTO of Eloqua. “Ensuring that data is clean and actionable should always be a top priority.”

Starter Trial Offer
Customers can enjoy a two-month free starter trial of the connector if they sign up at Eloqua Experience 2012. Attendees interested can see NetProspex at booth number 228.

About NetProspexNetProspex drives customer acquisition by partnering with B2B marketers to deliver targeted prospect lists, data cleansing, and profiling analytics that help to uncover data insight and optimize lead generation results. Voted Best Lead Generation Solution by the SIIA, NetProspex maintains a deep database of millions of crowd-sourced business contacts verified by CleneStep™ technology. Thousands of B2B organizations rely on NetProspex to acquire and maintain clean, accurate prospect information to fuel high-performing marketing campaigns. More information athttp://www.netprospex.com or on Twitter @NetProspex.

 

Ask-the-Experts: 5 Answers to B2B Content Marketing Questions

NetProspex

Last week NetProspex hosted a webinar revealing Content Marketing trends for technology marketers. Our panelists discussed the findings and shared their best advice. Here, we’ve answered 5 audience questions from that live event. To watch the on-demand recording, click here.

Our experts:

Writer & Consultant
Stephanie Tilton
Ten Ton Marketing

Strategist & Thought-leader
Samantha Stone
The Marketing Advisory Network

Practioner
John T. Frankot
Solution Publishing

1. Where does SEO fit into the content marketing equation?

Stephanie:
A. SEO and content marketing go hand in hand. It starts by understanding the language your ideal customer uses to describe his or her pain points, goals, along with the terms used to conduct searches during the research and decision-making process. This should come out when developing buyer personas. You then work those phrases/terms into content titles, abstracts, etc. to optimize for search.

Samantha:
A. I agree with Stephanie. SEO and content marketing are linked in important ways. In my experience starting a content creation project with SEO as the primary goal has the unintentional consequence of degrading the quality of insight provided. Rather, it is best to focus the content on the target audience, then optimize for search. If we understand our audience well, the SEO efforts should be a natural output of the writing process.
2. Can you comment on the notion of repurposing content across multiple formats? I’m keen to leverage content, and hit different audiences…BUT am scared about prospects feeling the material is redundant/repetitive if they happen to see it in multiple places. Thoughts?

Stephanie:
A. Samantha said it best during the webinar – prospects aren’t going to remember all the content that they consume so repetition never hurts. In fact, because prospects are likely consuming content from so many different companies, you need to make sure your message gets through and sticks, and that requires repetition. That said, it never hurts to slightly reword/recast the same information.

Samantha:
A. We should all be so lucky as our audience gets bored with our content because they remember it well! The truth is while we are familiar with everything that we produce, our audience reads very little of what has been published; and remembers even less. Some repetition is not only OK, it’s advisable. Of course, balance the repetition of messages by being creative with the format by which information is produced, along with varying the context by which it is provided.

John:
A. Frequency and consistency are important and beneficial. However, it is advisable to have enough content to cover the major perspectives with which a readers’ interest is coming from, or to tailored to particular industry or application. I would venture to say as long as it is good, relevant content a reader is not going to think negatively about seeing it broadly distributed.
3. In enterprise sales, do you really think Marketing knows better than a Sales person who a C-level exec consumes information?

Stephanie:
A. Marketing likely knows best what the audience is consuming in the earlier stages of the buying cycle and sales likely knows best what they’re consuming later on. But the best source is prospects and customers. Ask them what information they’re looking for at each stage of the buying cycle, along with their format preferences.

Samantha:
A. The best source of information consumption is our buyers. Both sales and marketing professionals have many opportunities to learn from them. Never be afraid to ask questions of potential buyers and clients alike.

John:
A. It comes down to who has the better data, which often is a result of asking good questions of your current clients and prospects. This type of intelligence gathering should be a collaborative effort between Marketing and Sales.

4. Given the #1 currency that we are fighting for is time, how does awesome content get you out of the spam folder or “delete any vendor e-mail immediately” problem?

Stephanie:
A. “Awesome” content stands out by being relevant, compelling, and timely. When people see useful information that’s applicable to what they’re trying to achieve, they’re open to receiving it. And when a vendor consistently delivers that type of information – instead of a product pitch time and again – its seen as a trusted source of information.

Samantha:
A. Building a reputation for providing compelling content will lead your target buyers to open more emails, but it is a mistake to think of your content strategy as your email strategy. Building a successful email campaign requires strong content offers, but it also requires careful consideration of subject line treatment, visual formats, timing and frequency. To maximize the value of content investments remember to distribute it across a wide range of vehicles, of which email is one of them.

John:
A. Our philosophy is trusted content sources are valued, sought after and approved so they don’t land in the SPAM folder. As we well know, prospects are bombarded with vendor efforts to connect. You really need to find a trusted entry point and be relevant in your content distribution, enough so it is more content pull verse a push.

5. What characteristics do a white paper must have? Size? A bunch of tips or a more technical perspective?

Stephanie:
A.In its 2011 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report, Eccolo Media found that the majority of respondents preferred white papers between 4-8 pages. 86% of respondents to TechWeb’s Tech Marketing Best Practices Research Series on white papers said they want white papers under 10 pages, with 50% wanting papers under 5 pages.

Many folks feel gypped when a white paper just skims the surface of a topic. The paper should be as long as necessary to explore a topic in a meaningful way. If you have so much to say about a topic that you can produce 15 or 20 pages or more, create a series of white papers. Such an approach shows a respect for your readers’ time while also providing a terrific way to keep them engaged over an extended period as part of lead-nurturing efforts.

One common mistake is when companies produce ultra-short white papers that are nothing more than brochures in disguise. Keep in mind what stage of the buying process the paper is meant to serve. Early on, prospects are not looking for product details; they want to understand industry trends, best practices for solving their issues, what to look for in a solution, etc.

Key elements:

  • 4-8 pages
  • Executive Summary or Abstract
  • Headings/subheads
  • Bullets
  • Sidebars/call-outs/quotes
  • Graphics
  • Footnotes
  • Conclusion
  • Call to action

For more best practices, download my free eBook: 5 Steps to a White Paper that Pulls in the Perfect Prospect

John:
A. Agree with much of what Stephanie shared. In general, nobody is in need of another product brochure. You need to identify with a readers problem, help them explore, and guide them to potential solutions. The content we see resonate best are thought leadership style white papers (4-6 pages), case studies, third party solution studies and eBooks.

 

To watch the on-demand recording, click here.