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Is sourcing and managing data your biggest challenge?

Is your data waiting to trip you up?

Your campaign has been fine-tuned and looks great. You’ve honed your messaging; your content is relevant and targeted. You select and segment your data. You launch and….nothing.

What’s gone wrong? Could it be that while content is king, data is the court jester, waiting to trip you up and laugh at you when things don’t go according to plan?

At a recent B2B marketing event, much of the chat was around the challenge of sourcing and maintaining relevant data; keeping it up to date and accurate. Many people cited data quality as one of their key challenges.

And there’s no shortage of market research to back this up. B2B Digital, Sirius Decisions and numerous industry experts have made the link between bad data and poor ROI from marketing campaigns.  It’s common sense.

So what can you do about it?

There are 2 key aspects, data acquisition and data management.

Top tips for data acquisition:

  1. Make sure that the registration form you use is not too onerous.  Many people are only willing to share very basic information on first sign up. Many marketing automation systems support “progressive profiling” which enables you to capture additional new profile information each time the prospect downloads some of your content. Clever stuff!
  2. Inbound leads are the best way to build new contact data. But traditional outbound campaigns are also still widely used in the B2B world. Make sure that the data you capture is clean, and that you have the relevant permission before adding to your CRM system.
  3. If you are sourcing data externally, consider having it custom built to your specification. It will be a little more expensive but can work out cost effective in comparison to doing it yourself, or buying/renting lists that your competitors also have access to. Avoid cheap offers - you get what you pay for!

Top tips for data management

  1. Set policies for: a) Extraction – not to put too fine a point on it, but extraction of data needs to be very well policed. Understanding not only the purpose of the extraction, but dictating the conditions of the use of the data should be clearly stated in your policy. b) Data management outside of CRM - this is the who, what, where, when and what for protecting your data. Consider running a joint campaign with a partner executed via the partner’s CRM system and e-mail tool. Who owns the data? How will you manage opt-outs/unsubscribes? How do you manage your suppression list? And then, post campaign making sure your data is removed and reconciled within your own system?
  2. Segment, tag and source your data.  How you do this will vary, but tagging by role/persona and buying cycle stage makes sense in most cases. Marketing automation systems will help here, and you can also include this in your nurture processes.  Behavioural segmentation can also be helpful - so capturing centrally all your companies interactions at company and contact level is important.
  3. Make it easy for people to update their own details on-line.  Make your content relevant, so it’s worth their while to do so.
  4. Assign ownership based on roles. So if one of your staff leaves “their” data can be easily transferred to the new employee. It’s also good to have a “data guru” who is responsible overall for data, but the overall policy for information management should be top down.
  5. Periodically, review and refresh your data. Decide how often you need to do this based on the mobility of your target audience. If you don’t have the bandwidth in-house, engage a reputable external agency.
  6. Manage and access data centrally. Either a CRM or other centralised and secure place with controlled access. Information “fiefdoms” should be avoided at all costs.

Most important of all – TALK to your audience. Engage with them on the phone/e-mail/social media etc. - it’s not hard to find a way to keep in touch, there are many channels these days. But make sure you update the information centrally.

Data is still the lifeblood of our campaigns. Companies that get this right will steal a march on the competition, have more successful campaigns and deliver better return on investment from their marketing activities. Worth the effort - we think.

By Virginia Bray | June 06, 2013 | Blog | 0 Comments

About the Author: Virginia Bray

Virginia Bray

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