Lead Quality: The Top Priority for Marketers

How to Successfully Improve the Quality of Your Leads

Clean Up Your Data

As marketers, we know that the quality of the leads we generate directly impacts our brand’s success. Simply put, poor-quality leads don’t convert into good customers. Therefore, don’t spend your time on them– it’s a waste of time and money. It is now more critical than ever that marketers re-evaluate their demand generation strategy and spend to focus on driving the right leads, not just more leads.

Indeed, marketers are aware that their strategies need improving, and are redefining their values and best practices. In fact, according to the 2015 “Demand Gen Report Benchmark Study: What’s Working in Demand Generation,” more than one-third of B2B marketers surveyed said they planned to increase their demand-generation budget by 20% in 2015.

And it seems like marketers are more aware of the state of their data quality. Of the B2B marketers surveyed, 74%  reported that producing greater lead quality, as opposed to lead quantity, was their top demand-generation priority this year. To me, that shows much greater self-awareness than I’ve seen in the past.

So, if improved lead quality is your top priority, how do you go forth and gather more worthy leads? Here is a plan for success (hint: it starts with your marketing database):

  • Assess the damage: When is the last time you conducted a deep audit of your business contacts database? If you can’t recall, then your database is most likely comprised of many expired and inaccurate contact records. And, if you’ve been reaching out to these invalid contacts all along, your outbound marketing efforts have been stymied and you are putting your sender score at risk.
  • Clean it up: You don’t have to repair your database all on your own; best-in-class data management technologies are available to do the auditing and cleansing for you. For example, today’s advanced marketing software can complete this legwork by identifying invalid business contacts and providing relevant, accurate entries to replace the others.
  • Target your campaigns: Once your database of marketing contacts is squeaky clean, you still need to segment your leads into different categories based on demographic and firmographic similarities. In doing so, you can send targeted messages, e.g., in email blasts or blog posts, to your different consumer groups. And since consumers want personalized, focused content from the brands they love, this tactic will up your sales and produce happier, more engaged customers.

So keep your business’s momentum going strong with a focus on lead quality this year. Increase demand generation productivity by first assessing the state of your marketing database. What are you waiting for?

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!

Calling All Customers and Prospects: Help Us Feed America This Holiday Season

Part of the holiday celebration for most families includes gathering together around a table for a feast of delicious foods. This picturesque scenario is a far cry, however, from the holiday experiences of thousands of families that don’t have enough food. In some communities, as much as 89 percent of households with children are food insecure or lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

We want to change that. And that is why we’re joining forces with Feeding America to achieve two goals at once. We want to help feed the less fortunate this holiday season while also spreading the word about how simple it is to feed your marketing technology systems with great data. As the largest domestic hunger-relief charity in the United States, Feeding America boasts a nationwide network of 200 member food banks that provide groceries and serve meals to an estimated 46.5 million people each year, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors… many of whom face significant health challenges.

It is our goal to raise $20,000, but our CMO has challenged us to break the (food) bank with this drive. For every introductory meeting we set up with a new prospect, and with every quote, online review or case study from existing customers we receive through December 31, 2014, we will donate to help provide a holiday meal for a family in need.

If you are an existing NetProspex customer, click here to join the cause. Your actions will result in a $250-$1000 donation made in your name.

If you have been meaning to learn more about NetProspex and our data management platform but need a little extra incentive, click here to set up a meeting and we’ll donate $50 to Feeding America.

Odds are someone in your life will be visiting a food bank this holiday season. Help us help those families in need. Join us today.

Join the Sons of Liberty and Gain Independence from Dirty Data this 4th of July!


It’s time to break out the red, white and blue and celebrate. Independence Day is just around the corner and you know what that means—barbeques at the beach, fireworks and quality time with family and friends.

But let’s not forget the true meaning behind this historic date on which the U.S. gained its independence from the Brits. Believe it or not, marketers can learn a thing or two from our founding fathers, besides how to don a killer wig and top hat.

For years, marketers have struggled to gain freedom from dirty data. They’ve either learned to live with it or they’ve simply ignored it, but times have changed: Data now plays a critical role in marketing success. What’s more, with the proliferation of marketing automation and other sophisticated marketing tools, the need for robust, accurate contact records is paramount.  Simply put, marketers can no longer sweep dirty data under the rug.

Enter marketing data management.

With marketing data management—the continual step-by-step process of accessing, cleansing, and enhancing marketing data—businesses can finally begin to gain independence from dirty data and experience success. According to data from our “2014 Marketing Data Benchmark Report,” firms that have a well-established process for cleansing their marketing database (i.e. updating and removing email bounces and duplicate records, etc.) see better conversions throughout the pipeline.

This Fourth of July weekend, take back control of your data and get serious about improving the health of your database.

Standardized Testing & Developing Smarter Data

NetProspex and Oceanos Intelligence Report

My son took his first MCAS test this week – the standardized comprehensive assessments for public school kids in Massachusetts – and he was nervous. It’s understandable – the schools make a big deal of these and if you haven’t done one before, the uncertainty can be overwhelming.  So he took the test and afterwards he said “it wasn’t as bad as I thought, in fact it was kind of fun”. That was a huge relief for him and me. But the standardization of these tests got me thinking about other assessments that I deal with daily – data quality assessments – and the parallels between my son’s anxiety and the anxieties that we as marketers feel. What I came to realize is that the emergence of standardized assessments, no matter how scary or anxiety-inducing they may be, ultimately aid in the identification of areas in need of improvement at an individual level, but also provide significant insights into systematic problems that may exist as well. In the end, they will make us smarter.

So, take a moment and ask yourself: “If I were to give my marketing data a letter grade right now what would it be? Would it be an “A” for “awesomely accurate”, a “C” for “could be better” or “F” for “failure to meet my needs”? I bet most of you probably end up around a “C”, simply for the reason that you may not have the right data points to give you any realistic idea into the overall quality of your marketing data. This can be a scary place to operate from.  If you want to improve response rates or enhance your ability to deliver targeted messages through more effective segmentation,  then your data needs to be smart–really smart.

You know that sender anxiety you may feel before you hit “Send Now” on your next email campaign out of Eloqua or Marketo (or whatever marketing automation platform you may use)? That stems from not understanding (or trusting) the health of your marketing data. Again, totally understandable: business contacts that have been sitting in your database for years are combined with new data entering your ecosystem through Web registrations, trade shows and PPC. These forces could be dirtying up and dumbing down your database. Don’t believe me? According to NetProspex’s B2B Marketing Data Benchmark Report, 50 percent of companies have an overall data health score of “Unreliable.” Marketing data management, or the practice of assessing, cleansing and enhancing data regularly, ensures your marketing data is complete, accurate, actionable – and smarter.

Smart data is information that actually makes sense – it is comprehensive, complete, and accurate; it’s actionable information that can be used as an accelerator to drive successful inbound and outbound marketing campaigns and it enables a more repeatable process for driving results. So what’s the key to unlocking smarter data? Well, much like the MCAS is geared to understanding the abilities of our children, smarter data starts with its own assessment to determine the individual and systematic issues of your data. Armed with the insight of this assessment, you typically follow it up with a programmatic approach to marketing data management to address those identified issues.

I think that people deal with the data quality of their marketing data in the same way that my son initially dealt with his MCAS test – fearfully. The reason for this is that it can seem somewhat overwhelming to deal with. However, with tools like NetProspex Workbench , it’s actually a lot easier that you think – and at times it may even seem fun. NetProspex Workbench enables B2B marketers to improve the quality and effectiveness of their marketing databases in a programmatic way that leverages insights gained through assessment, identification of record-based opportunities for improvement, while providing capabilities that allow for systematic improvement in how you capture, nurture, and promote qualified prospect.  The fun part comes in when your campaign response rates climb, when your leads are lauded by sales, and when marketing-generated pipeline increases dramatically.

So don’t put a dunce cap on your data and stick it in the corner because there’s no hope. Make it smarter through marketing data management and unlock revenue within your database that you never knew existed. Start off today with your own free, secure Data HealthScan and remove that first bit of anxiety.

One Minute to Better Data…more like ten but who’s counting

One Minute to Better Data

Converting marketing campaigns into successful business opportunities is not always easy. But with careful planning and the right data enrichment tools at your disposal, the task becomes that much simpler.

You’ve been segmenting your prospective customer data into different buyer personas—sorting them according to their job titles, industries and other fields available in your database—you’re able to effectively target potential customers, identify their pain points and develop messaging that is specific to them. Once that messaging is ready, your marketing plan can begin to scale. But where do you start when it comes to your data and lists?

In order for your messaging and campaigns to be successful, it’s critical to keep in mind that your campaigns are only as strong as your data and it’s imperative to make time to manage your database. If your data is older or incomplete—and it might very well be, as Sirius Decisions estimates between 10 to 25 percent of business-to-business marketers have databases containing critical errors—you risk lower yields or damaging your sending reputation.

Here’s where you can start to take the reins on your data in minutes. Employing best-in-class marketing data services strengthens your data, allowing you to focus your attention on executing and tracking your campaigns. In minutes, NetProspex’s Data HealthScan solution quickly assesses databases for email deliverability, phone connectability, duplication, data completeness and more.  Aberdeen found implementing best-in-class marketing data services can yield a staggering 114% increase in customer conversion rates. By kick-starting your data management activities with marketing data services, demand generation teams will ultimately have more time for streamlining the cascade of leads and iterating conversion tactics knowing that their prospect data is flowing from a clean source.

In addition to assessing its health, NetProspex also offers marketing data services which clean and enhance your database with valuable insights – driving higher conversion rates for marketing activities. It weeds out old information, enriches incomplete records with valuable firmographics and company demographics and accelerates your marketing strategy by ensuring you launch campaigns with high quality, highly targeted campaigns.

According to Eloqua’s Marketing Automation Benchmark Report, companies that maintain strong, healthy databases create seven times the number of customer inquiries and four times as many leads as companies that do not. By making it central to your company’s mission to maintain strong data, you’re guaranteed to more effectively reach the target audience. And marketing data services will drive more successful campaigns, higher lead conversion rates and ultimately higher returns on your investment.

Grade Your Marketing Data Management


By Tamara Graves, Senior Director of Demand Generation,NetProspex

It’s probably been a few years since you were last in a classroom, taking tests and stressing out over grades. But, a little self evaluation goes a long way in keeping your marketing mojo up to snuff. With new technologies and processes such as marketing automation, data management has become more important than ever. In fact, according to SiriusDecisions, companies who effectively manage data quality see a 66% increase in revenue.

So, are you a marketing data guru? Do you understand the ins and outs of data quality and keeping it in shape? Or should you get a data management tutor? Pick the one option that best reflects your approach from the questions below, tally your score, and grade yourself or your organization on your data management savvy.

How should you decide when to grow your contact database?

  1. Based on coverage within our key segments [5]
  2. Before a big campaign, such as a webinar [3]
  3. To make up for missing revenue late in the quarter [1]
  4. Based on response rates we’ve seen in the past [5]

When should you assess the deliverability of email addresses in your database?

  1. Remove hard-bounced emails after a campaign [3]
  2. Proactively, before we send email campaigns [5]
  3. When we’re black-listed [1]
  4. Once a quarter to ensure a constant quality level [5]

How should you maintain phone number accuracy within your database?

  1. Manually, with an in-house resource validating numbers [3]
  2. Using an outside vendor to verify or append details on a consistent basis [5]
  3. Relying on sales to find the number when making calls [1]
  4. It’s not worth our time [1]

Which of the following describes your overall record completeness strategy?

  1. It’s not a priority for us — leads with missing fields are a fact of life [1]
  2. We have partners and processes in place to append information to our forms [5]
  3. We manually fill in missing fields [3]
  4. We use data appending to fill missing fields in our database [5]

How should you manage the quality of form data?

  1. Use a vendor to automatically recognize (and remove) bogus information [5]
  2. Manually identify bogus information [3]
  3. Progressive profiling [5]
  4. Tell sales to ignore bad data on leads passed [1]
  5. Add fields such as industry and company size behind-the-scenes on our forms [5]

How should you work with sales as it relates to your data quality?

  1. Have an agreement in place to dictate data entry rules [5]
  2. Offer incentives to recognize good data practices [5]
  3. Encourage sales to report bad data (but without a formal agreement) [3]
  4. Sales has no say in marketing’s data [1]

What priority should data management be for an organization’s budget?

  1. It should be a nice-to-have if we have extra dollars at the end of the quarter [3]
  2. It should be a line item to proactively plan for [5]
  3. Budget for data cleansing should be figured out only when black-listed or in serious trouble [1]


How should you decide on a data acquisition partner to work with?

  1. We seek a reliable quality process and replacement guarantee [5]
  2. We decide based on price and quantity, or who can get us the most names at the lowest cost [3]
  3. When we have to, we reply to the latest email from seemingly reputable data vendors overseas [1]
  4. We look for the ability to suppress existing contacts and purchase net-new names [5]


Answer Key

Question 1: A=5, B=3, C=1, D=5

Question 2: A=3, B=5, C=1, D=5

Question 3: A=3, B=5, C=1, D=1

Question 4: A=1, B=5, C=3, D=5

Question 5: A=5, B=3, C=5, D=1, E=5

Question 6: A=5, B=5, C=3, D=1

Question 7: A=3, B=5, C=1

Question 8: A=5, B=3, C=1, D=5


[30-40] A+ 

Great job! Gold star! Your efforts to keep a finger on the state of your constantly growing data set, implement data quality rules throughout your organization, enhance and grow your database as needed, and maintain a constant state of quality are surely having a positive impact throughout your campaigns. You’re a model of data management. Keep up the good work!


Nice job. Data management is not an easy field to master, especially when juggled among all the other balls marketing has to keep up in the air. That said, you may want to get a tutor or study a little harder to take things up a notch, beyond once-in-a-while data cleanses or just-in-time list buys. It’s time to get serious about data quality, before your organization suffers the consequences of a dirty, incomplete database. If you’re the kind of marketer who needs to do more with less, start doing more about your data, and the rest will come.

[1-14] See me after class

Ouch. It looks like your data management strategy is, well, non-existent. It’s time to study up on data management before hard bounces lead to a poor sender reputation, your sales team stages a coup, or your campaigns miss revenue targets. You’re certainly not alone: more than half of the companies in the U.S. are working with unreliable data, according to a study NetProspex conducted earlier this year. Just as you’ve assessed yourself, it’s time to assess your database in terms of quality, completeness and coverage, and make an informed decision from there.



Clean Data: The Key to Scoring a Sales Touchdown

Lauren's Blog Post

Written by Lauren Morgenstern, Sales Development Representative, NetProspex

It’s that time of the year again—kids are getting ready to go back to school, it’s starting to get darker and the weather is cooling down. Those can only mean one thing: football season is right around the corner.

To be honest, on a scale of one to football aficionado I come in around a strong two and a half. That being said, I still try my best to join my friends in discussing the upcoming season at parties. To avoid being sidelined during the heated debates, I attempt to keep up with all the new NFL drafts and trades (even though I’m a lot more interested in who’s joining next season’s cast of the Real Housewives of Orange County).

Staying up-to-date with a regularly changing roster of football stars isn’t easy. Similarly, as we learned from the NetProspex Marketing Data Benchmark Report, sales teams have their fare share of headaches too. In fact, 48 million people in the United States changed jobs in 2011 alone, and at NetProspex, we’ve welcomed eleven new people in just the past two weeks.

So what does this mean for me as a sales development rep? Using a sales-prospecting tool that contains contacts that are only verified once is nearly useless—it’s like drafting a quarterback that’s good on paper, but can’t perform in the games. In order to be successful, I have to rely on the most effective tools available, and those are the ones that regularly verify contacts by email.

Have you felt the humiliation of revealing to friends that you thought Wes Welker was still with the Patriots, rather than acknowledging his trade to the Denver Broncos? Well, unfortunately, I have. I also know that it’s equally as embarrassing to reach out to company XYZ and ask for Mr. CMO, only to find out that he hasn’t worked at the company for more than a year. What’s more, it’s also bad for business. When the gatekeeper figures out that I’m a cold caller and blocks me from the new decision maker, I’ve not only wasted my time and energy, but I’ve taken two steps back from reaching my goals.

As AG Salesworks states in their Inside Sales Managers Guide to List Development Guide, “a long, tidy list of names, numbers and email addresses may seem impressive, but are of no real value unless they are accurate.”

An ideal sales-prospecting tool will have all the information I need to make my cold calls and reach my quotas, because, after all, these tools are supposed to make my job easier, not more difficult.

While I may not be able to predict the surprise plays and objections during a game this season, I’ll at least be armed with websites to tell me the names of key players and their appropriate teams. The same goes for my teleprospecting efforts!

Interested in learning more, Check out our SalesProspex solution!

B2B Marketers Agree: It’s Time to Do Something About Data Quality


Original coverage appeared at CMO.com. 

Data is a B2B marketer’s lifeline. To be successful in reaching potential customers, elevating existing customer relationships, and cultivating new sales leads, marketers must ensure that their contact databases are clean, current, and complete.


  • More than 50 percent of companies work with unreliable or risky data.
  • Data cleansing will be the main factor to make or break a campaign’s or event’s success.
  • It’s time for marketers to stop ignoring the plague of dirty data.

Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy and viable contact database is easier said than done. As was shown in NetProspex’s The State of Marketing Data 2013 report issued earlier this year, even in today’s business landscape, where data mining technology is readily available to the B2B marketer, marketers struggle with issues surrounding phone connectabilty, email deliverability, and record incompleteness. In fact, more than 50 percent of companies work with unreliable or risky data. So what causeses marketers’ contact databases to remain lackluster and, more importantly, what are the strategies marketers can use to improve and ensure the constant health of their overall data quality?

We’ve turned to three industry experts, who offer marketers the following advice on what it takes to clean up and maintain a healthy contact database.

Beverly Chiarelli, Mimecast Senior Marketing Manager
“When building a marketing budget, ‘data cleansing’ often gets left behind because it is invisible when compared to events, email, direct mail, and advertising. Yet data cleansing will be the main factor to make or break a campaign’s or event’s success. A key component in the cleansing process is creating complete data that enables meaningful communications. As marketers up their game to provide appealing thought-leadership with the buyer’s needs and interests in mind, the effort will fall flat unless that content can go to specific audience segments that would welcome it rather than resorting to ‘buck-shot marketing.’”

Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing President
“The primary reason marketers struggle with database hygiene is that they simply don’t pay attention to it. They focus the majority of their time on creating new lists, new leads, new offers, and creative materials while leaving their existing databases to remain stagnant and ignored. It is a huge hidden productivity drain for organizations. Their email delivery and response rates are suppressed. They’re more susceptible to spam filters and black lists. Their sales reps are calling phone numbers that do not work or are calling contacts that no longer exist. That is valuable time spent on generating unproductive leads.”

Samantha Stone, Marketing Advisory Network Founder and Senior Analyst
“While there is no fairy dust we can sprinkle to make our database magically complete, there are many tactics we can use to make an imperfect data set an efficient marketing device. The three strategies I use most often to operate under imperfect database conditions are give to get, incent sales, and append data.

“First, give to get: Content marketing has taught marketers to draw in potential buyers through great content, but we often end up forgetting about the opportunity to give to get in an ongoing fashion. Give to get isn’t just about the first time a visitor accesses a marketer’s assets–it’s about getting to know each other and trading information about the buyer’s challenges and the marketer’s offerings.

“Second, incent sales: Sales people talk to a company’s database everyday to gather information that could be hugely valuable, but that data does marketing no good if it sits in the notes field of the database or worse, on someone’s desk-side notebook. Incent sales by making information capturing easy and rewarding to those who excel.

“Finally, append data: By integrating contact databases across multiple data sources, marketers can append and converge known information to round out a meaningful picture of their potential buyer.”

The first step on the road toward clean, healthy data is, of course, identifying one’s database issues. Marketers should strive to assess the current state of their databases across email deliverability, phone connectability, record duplication, and record completeness. The real challenge lies in maintaining that healthy data on a constant basis. By working to adopt best practices, companies will be better positioned to avoid such risks and impact, such as:

  • Falling short of revenue goals by not reaching target buyers.
  • Damage to brand and sender reputation from poor email deliverability or redundant sends.
  • Financial impact from increased records storage costs and inefficiencies.
  • Limited segmentation, low conversions, and incorrect lead routing from a lack of sufficient data and incomplete records.

It’s time for marketers to stop ignoring the plague of dirty data in their marketing automation systems and CRM databases. According to a recent report from Eloqua, by simply maintaining good hygiene practices on the data driving campaigns, marketers can realize seven times the number of inquiries and four times the number of leads. So what are you waiting for?