4 Things to Do Right After You Buy a Contact Database

Things to Do Right After You Buy a Contact DatabaseSo you’ve got yourself a new contact list. Now what? Bought lists help you reach your growth targets faster—that is, if you’re able to set it up the right way. Today’s post goes over four steps you should follow right after you buy a contact database. These activities ensure that your list works as expected or, even better, exceed your targets.

In a previous post, we talked about the five situations where it’s okay to buy a contact database:

  • Your solution solves a real pain point or problem.
  • You’ve clearly identified your target prospects.
  • You’re targeting a high turnover industry.
  • You don’t have the resources to build a list at scale.
  • You’re expected to deliver results in the near-term.

If it makes sense for you to buy a contact database and you’ve invested in one already, then there’s a few things you need to straighten out first before using your list right out of the box.

 

1. Clean the bought list thoroughly first

Even though your list may come from a reputable database provider, you can’t take any chances when it comes to data quality. That’s why you need to thoroughly scrub and validate your bought list before putting it to use.

  • Scrub invalid addresses, spam traps, and distribution email addresses
  • Remove (hard) bounced addresses
  • Verify and update records

List cleaning tends to take up time and resources, so it might be a better option to let a third-party data cleaning services company do it for you.

 

2. Build your sender identity and reputation

To improve email deliverability, you need to convince both your recipients and ISPs that you’re someone they can trust. The idea is to let them know there’s a real person behind the email and that you’re really who you say you are.

  • Personalize your sender name
  • Use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC tools
  • Try out sender score and certification services
  • Warm up a new IP or use a dedicated sending IP

Using a bought list means you’re likely reaching out to most of the contacts for the first time. This underscores the importance of building your identity and reputation.

 

3. Ask contacts if they want to stick around

Most list vendors tout their products as opt-in, permission-based, or anti-spam-compliant. But, unless you’re deeply familiar with their data collection and QA practices, it’s better to err on the side of caution and carry out a double opt-in campaign, where you ask contacts for permission.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to run a double opt-in campaign after you buy a contact database:

  • Do a thorough data scrub (see step 1)
  • Prepare your free (value) offer
  • Craft an opt-in confirmation email
  • Build the landing page
  • Re-confirm with a thank you email

It’s okay if you encounter a lot of unsubscribes after your double opt-in campaign. Aside from staying compliant, this is one way of cleaning your list for better deliverability and engagement.

 

4. Reach out, engage, and respond

Bought lists translate to cold outreach. But that doesn’t mean your first interaction with the contacts should be icy, too. In order to maximize response and/or conversions, be sure to:

  • Personalize your cold emails beyond ‘Hi [FirstName]’
  • Segment your list according to buyer personas
  • Offer educational content (whitepapers, webinars, articles, etc.) related to the contact’s job title or industry
  • Start a nurturing campaign with follow-ups and multi-touch cadence

These best practices should help you avoid getting the cold shoulder from your cold prospects.

 

Conclusion

When you buy a contact database, you need to put a few things in place before using it in your campaign. Keep these four steps in mind as you start growing your pipeline.

Why You Need to Rethink Your Email List Segmentation Best Practices

Email List

Find out why most email list segmentation best practices no longer meet the demands of today’s email marketing landscape.

There’s no shortage of email list segmentation best practices to go around. In fact, a quick Google search for ways to slice and dice an email list gives 19,700,00 results. But a great deal of these readily-available tips falls somewhere between marginally useful to totally obsolete. That means your segmentation strategy is probably due for a little overhaul. Here’s why.

In case you haven’t noticed, both B2B buyers and their buying cycles have changed. B2B prospects are now almost 60% into the decision-making process before reaching out to a vendor, and they’re doing a ton of research and learning about a product or services largely on their own. Old static segmentation models can no longer account for the dynamic, self-determined behavior that today’s prospects tend to display.

That’s just one area where traditional email list segmentation best practices fall short. You need to reconsider conventional ways of segregating email contacts because:

 

  1. Everybody’s doing it.

You really can’t gain any decent competitive edge from following traditional email list segmentation best practices. Practically, most B2B organizations segment email lists according to some basic combination of demographic, firmographic, and firmographic attributes.

While these are fairly effective as starting points for slicing and dicing lists, these strategies have attained such mainstream acceptance that it’s hard to differentiate your campaign and generate above-average results solely on these criteria.

 

  1. Buyers evolve faster than profiles.

As marketers, we’re painfully aware that data decays at a rate of at least 2% per month. But there’s more to marketing data going stale than contacts’ job titles or addresses changing.

The modern B2B purchase journey’s nonlinearity means that prospect behavior doesn’t remain constant or predictable throughout the process. This is why segmentation models need to take these changes into account in order to be useful.

 

  1. Traditional models don’t do a very good job at personalization.

Most email list segmentation best practices were developed when mass targeting was still the norm. That was why these models relied mostly on broad categories and aggregate groupings of prospects.

With today’s decision-makers expecting a relevant, targeted experience, sending out emails that only make use of superficial personalization (first name, industry, company names, etc.) simply isn’t going to cut it.

 

These are a few of the main reasons why email list segmentation best practices need to evolve. The bottom-line is that the marketing landscape has changed. Traditional ways of doing things aren’t that helpful or effective anymore. So, keep up and stay ahead.

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the Holidays

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the HolidaysThe holiday season is in full swing. Aside from crowded stores and endless checkout lines, the inbox gets particularly busy this time of year, too. In fact, people receive 1.5 times more promotional emails during the holidays than at any other period. This brings all sorts of email deliverability issues that can drag down campaign performance.

As Kevin Senne over at Oracle Marketing Cloud explains, ISPs tend to tighten their grip on incoming mail during the holidays. That’s because mailbox providers slow down the rate of email arrivals to deal with the seasonal deluge. Naturally, this throttling has an effect on both if and when emails reach a recipient’s inbox.

While these email deliverability issues largely bother senders of promotional emails, every marketer who wants to get in touch with prospects or customers during the holidays isn’t immune from these problems.

That’s why we searched the Web for practical tips and best practices to help you avoid holiday-induced deliverability headaches. Let’s take a look at what we learned:

 

  1. Keep your list spotlessly clean

As you’re making your email list, and checking it twice, you might want to have someone recheck it thrice. The first step to your recipients’ inbox starts with the list. Squeaky-clean lists help keep email deliverability issues at bay.

That’s because clean lists tend to give you lower bounce rates, which in turn improve your sender reputation. The better your reputation becomes (in the eyes of ISPs), the better your deliverability gets.

While there’s no shortage of tools and techniques you can use to do some D.I.Y. list cleaning, most sources we dug up strongly recommend working with a third-party data cleaning service provider for best results.

 

  1. Stick to your current sending IP address

If you’re thinking that switching over to a new IP address will give you better deliverability for your holiday campaigns, then you’re in for some very rude awakening. Deliverability expert Return Path cautions against changing your sending IP address, especially during the holiday season.

Using a brand new IP does let you start out with a blank slate, but it’s going to take a while to “warm up” a fresh address and earn the trust of ISPs. Building your sender reputation from scratch isn’t going to happen overnight, and the process will be much longer during the holidays when throttling and stricter spam filters are in place.

 

  1. Watch your mailing frequency

Return Path also warns email marketers not to abruptly increase their sending frequency in the run up to and during the holidays. The biggest mailbox providers keep a close eye on any sudden spikes in send-out rates, slowing down or stopping incoming mails from senders who step on the gas too quickly. In many cases, this can permanently harm sender reputation.

To avoid potential email deliverability issues from sending out too much mail during the holidays, most references we found suggest consistently maintaining your usual email frequency. Other sources also point out that, if you really want to increase your email volume, you need to slowly and gradually increase your frequency over several weeks ahead of the holidays.

 

  1. Wear your authentication badge at all times

Another way to improve deliverability is to use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication. These are tools that tell ISPs you’re someone they can trust. While enabling these items won’t guarantee deliverability (nothing does), they’re a crucial component of building and maintaining a good sender reputation.

As marketing automation provider Real Magnet describes, these three authentication systems allow you to improve your emails’ deliverability and credibility. They implement protocols that verify your domain as the sender, which is something that affects ISPs’ decisions to accept or reject incoming mail.

Enabling all three tools helps guarantee your emails make it into the inbox, as well as protect your emails from spoofing.

 

  1. Focus on the recipient, not the campaign

Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other mailbox providers use engagement metrics (opens, clicks, spam reports, unsubscribes, etc.) to determine if your email should end up in the inbox or spam folder.

That’s why avoiding email deliverability issues also means improving how your emails engage your readers. From the subject down to the closing, your email needs actionable copy and compelling design.

We went over some effective tips to write engaging emails in a previous blog entry. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA
  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

With these steps, your holiday email campaign will surely minimize, if not avoid, email deliverability issues. From the ContactDB team:

Happy Holidays!

6 Handy B2B Marketing Services to Outsource in 2018

6 Handy B2B Marketing Services to Outsource in 2018We’re well within the last quarter of 2017, and most of you are probably already making the final touches to next year’s marketing plan. If your strategy involves working with a B2B marketing services provider but you’re not sure which marketing initiatives to outsource and which ones to keep in-house, we’ve got you covered. This post goes over six potential areas in your marketing program that an agency can help you out with.

Outsourcing part of your marketing efforts to a reputable third-party agency brings tremendous advantages. When you place specific marketing tactics at the hands of experts, you get better results at practically lower cost. In fact, outsourced B2B marketing services outperform in-house activities by as much as 43% in terms of productivity.

So which activities should you let an agency do for you? Here’s a list of six possible B2B marketing services to outsource next year:

 

  1. PPC

Pay-per-click tactics remain one of those things in marketing that sound simple in theory but are really hard to nail down in practice. It’s very easy for inexperienced marketers to mess PPC campaigns up with the wrong approach. The challenges begin to pile up even higher once you take ad-blockers and declining conversion rates into account.

Navigating all these things can quickly become a full-time job. Unless you have the resources to bring new full-time PPC specialists, you’re better off outsourcing your paid search initiatives.

 

  1. Branding

There’s a very interesting Inc. article that argues why business should avoid DIY branding. In a nutshell, the article says that branding is best left to the experts because, too often, non-specialists don’t even understand its basic concepts and that branding does need some outsider viewpoints.

That’s why if you’re lining up some branding initiatives for next year, you’ll probably get better results if you let a talented branding company do it for you.

 

  1. Demand Generation

Demand generation strategies typically consist of top-of-funnel activities that drive interest and awareness. That’s why it’s a prime outsourcing candidate for organizations that want their marketing and sales teams to focus more on high-value activities such as conversion and closing.

An ideal demand generation solution provider offers B2B marketing services with functional expertise and industry knowledge. While the cost savings alone can already be a good reason to choose the outsourced path, the important benefit that demand generation agencies deliver is value.

 

  1. Lead Generation

Ascend2 estimates that 8 in 10 B2B marketers outsource part or all of their lead generation campaigns. That’s because as lead generation becomes increasingly tied to revenue generation, the pressure to deliver results is mounting.

This trend indicates that organizations find it difficult to meet the needs of a changing marketing landscape with the resources available in-house. The main criterion for choosing a third-party lead generation agency is their ability to identify and convert prospects with purchase intent.

 

  1. Lead Nurturing

Shouldn’t you nurture leads with the people and processes you have in-house? Yes, but there are a number of ways a B2B marketing services company can help you with lead nurturing, too. This is particularly true for organizations which have yet to lay down the right infrastructure, such as marketing automation platforms.

Even for companies with a mature tech stack, an experienced marketing partner can still make all the difference in the world.

 

  1. Appointment Setting

Most B2B marketers start out with the lofty goal of “keeping the sales calendar full”, but only a few have a clear idea of exactly how to get there.

That’s why it’s an excellent idea to partner with a B2B marketing services agency that does finding, qualifying, and booking sales appointments for you. Appointment setting offers a clear path toward keeping your sales team busy and productive, and an experienced third-party partner gets you there faster.

Knowing what marketing programs to outsource is a key part of the planning process. This often boils down to your objectives and your budget. Working with the right partner lets you tap into a rich pool of experience, technology, and connections which would otherwise be out of reach on your own.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Campaign Plan

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Campaign PlanHere’s a number to think about: 3,800%. That’s the average email marketing ROI according to the DMA. But just because you’re doing email marketing, too, doesn’t guarantee you’ll also be getting the same spectacular returns. To generate decent ROI, you first need to develop a working email marketing campaign plan.

Putting together a coherent and doable email marketing campaign plan remains a daunting challenge for a great number of marketers. A lot of moving parts make up a typical email campaign, and it’s easy to get lost in the dizzying details. But with a clear planning process, the task becomes more manageable. Today’s post provides a step-by-step guide to campaign planning, plus a ton of email marketing tips and tricks to get you started.

 

Step 1: Set specific campaign goals and objectives

As email marketers, we’ve been raised to believe that everything starts with the list. But this mindset needs to change. Goals and objectives actually precede the email list. Everything only follows once you’ve identified the things your campaign needs to achieve.

Some email marketing campaign goals include:

  • Reaching out to cold prospects
  • Nurturing email prospects
  • Welcoming new subscribers
  • Verifying/Updating subscription
  • Promoting/Announcing new offers
  • Achieving conversion goals
  • Responding to triggers or actions

 

Step 2: Identify the types of emails to be used

Once you’ve specified your campaign targets, it’s time to figure out which types of emails work best for the tasks at hand. Marketers use dozens of email types, but these can be grouped into:

  • Prospecting Emails – These are emails sent to identify new opportunities for customer acquisition
  • Nurturing Emails – These are emails that cultivate relationships with leads, subscribers, or existing customers.
  • Promotional Emails – This type of emails announces offers or company-related news.
  • Transactional Emails – These emails are sent in response to a specific action or trigger.

 

Step 3: Know the target audience and segments

This looks like a fairly straightforward activity. But almost half of marketers still fail to segment their lists into relevant groups. There’s more to audience identification than simply knowing your target market. You have to define specific buyer personas that serve as your ideal audience profiles.

We’ve written about effective ways to segment a list in a previous post, and the key points are worth repeating here:

  1. Start with basic firmographics
  2. Map emails to sales funnel stages
  3. Follow a contact’s clickpath on your site4Find out what content they’re engaging with
  4. Find out what content they’re engaging with
  5. Keep track of responses and activities
  6. Apply a lead scoring scheme

 

Step 4: Flesh out a robust sending schedule

Now you’re ready to set the schedule and frequency of email send-outs. Different sources cite varying optimal times of day and days of week for sending out emails, but it’s good practice to test this out for your own campaign. The same holds true for sending frequency.

While not all campaigns need a detailed sending schedule, the following email marketing tips and tricks for scheduling will help you find the right send-out times:

  • Start with the widely-accepted “best” times for sending out emails (Tuesdays through Thursdays, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.)
  • Let subscribers indicate how often to receive emails
  • Keep initial follow-ups to within 3 days of last touch point
  • Sync nurturing emails with your content calendar
  • Tweak schedule and frequency based on campaign results

 

Step 5: Brainstorm content and design ideas

You now have the why, what, who, and when of your email marketing campaign plan. The next things to think about are your emails’ content and design. Compelling copy and great design go hand-in-hand at producing successful email campaigns.

In terms of content, your emails need to speak to your audience and achieve a purpose. Consider the following tips when crafting email copies:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA

For the design, it’s the message that dictates the email’s look and feel:

  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

 

Step 6: Choose suitable metrics and KPIs

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s why selecting a suitable set of metrics is part of campaign planning.

Email marketing continues to be one of the most data-rich marketing channels around today. So, if you think “vanity metrics” (delivery rates, open rates, CTRs, bounces, spam reports, and unsubscribes) can tell you everything you need to know about your campaign, then you’re leaving a huge insight gap in your program.

To ensure your dashboard displays only the right numbers, follow the below steps:

  1. Revisit your campaign goals and objectives
  2. Use metrics that determine if you’ve reached each goal
  3. Look at all your campaign data sources
  4. Know which pieces of data improve timing, content, and impact

 

Step 7: Outline a clear process for testing

The final step in the planning process is to come up with a program for testing and tracking your email campaign. Testing allows you to continuously improve your email marketing campaign plan. So, you need to hammer out a workable testing procedure before hitting “send”.

But, with so many individual components to test, creating a testing plan (as well as carrying it out) can feel overwhelming. Put the following tips into practice to make this part of the planning process run more smoothly:

  • Test basic elements first
  • Focus on one component at a time
  • Make your sample sizes sufficiently large (i.e., at least 1,000 observations)
  • Use consistent schedules when testing
  • Trust the test results over gut-feelings, no matter how counterintuitive

 

Conclusion

At this point, you now have a working email marketing campaign plan. But before you hit send, it’s crucial to go over your outline once or twice to make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.

If you think some aspects of your campaign look tedious or too time-consuming, then a good email marketing automation tool can make things easier. In addition, reputable email marketing service providers help you carry out part or all of your campaign activities more effectively.

What other steps do you follow when putting together an email marketing campaign plan?

How to Decide Between Lead Generation vs Demand Generation Services

How to Decide Between Lead Generation vs Demand Generation Services

In this day and age, it’s surprising that quite a number of B2B marketing folks still get the terms “lead generation” and “demand generation” mixed up. Although these two activities remain inextricably linked, they’re not the same thing. That’s why if you’re out on the market looking for lead generation or demand generation services, it’s important that you know the differences between them and find out how to choose which one you need.

Demand generation and lead generation share some similar goals, but successful marketers use each of these to achieve different sets of objectives. According to the Content Marketing Institute, demand generation creates interest on your brand or product, while lead generation captures information from interested prospects once demand has been established. The outcome of demand generation services is increased reach and conversions, while that of lead generation is new qualified contacts available for marketing or sales.

In other words, demand generation precedes lead generation. Demand generation hauls prospects into your sales funnel, while lead generation ensures that these prospects actually make it inside. That means if you’re looking for an outsourced marketing partner, you need to be sure you’re getting the right services. Here’s a few questions to help you find out whether you need lead generation or demand generation services:

 

  1. What are your present priorities and objectives?

Customer acquisition and brand awareness typically vie for marketers’ time and budget. But achieving either or both these end-goals requires having clear processes in place. What’s more is that these processes vary depending on whether your current strategic situation call for a revenue-oriented or a branding-focused approach (or a combination of both).

If you’re leaning toward customer acquisition, then lead generation activities should probably make up a significant chunk of your marketing efforts. Otherwise, going for demand generation services is most likely your best path forward.

 

  1. How much does your target market know about your product or solution?

Keep in mind that demand generation services help you create buzz and awareness about your solution or company. It’s the right tool for the job if your target buyers aren’t very familiar with what you’re offering and you need to let your audience know about its capabilities and benefits.

On the other hand, if your target prospects already have a good idea about your product, then they’re potentially ready to proceed toward the next stages in the sales funnel. That’s where lead generation can really help.

 

  1. What prospect qualifications are you looking for?

Here’s one way to think about the differences between lead generation and demand generation services. Demand generation is like casting as wide a net as possible, while lead generation helps keep only the most interested prospects, setting the rest aside. This is why demand generation tactics often use content that’s freely available (such as blog posts), whereas lead generation relies on gated content assets (such as whitepaper downloads).

Lead generation needs a more specific (and oftentimes narrower) set of prospect qualification criteria. BANT, buyer profiles, and lead scores make up prospect qualifications in lead generation. Demand generation, meanwhile, works with a broader set of prospect characteristics.

 

  1. What are your target outcomes?

Demand and leads are obviously different things, although you could argue that a lead is what demand looks like once qualified. Unless we’re talking about demand in a microeconomics context, quantifying demand for your product or solution is trickier than measuring lead generation outcomes.

With lead generation, it’s easy to find universally agreed-upon metrics to measure results (e.g., record counts for lead quantity, lead scores for lead quality). For demand generation services, it takes a little creativity to find the right yardsticks to use.

By now, you’ve possibly gotten the impression that lead generation and demand generation go hand in hand. That’s exactly the case. Deciding between lead generation and demand generation services is actually finding the right balance between which initiatives to do in-house and which ones to outsource to a third-party provider. Define what you want to achieve and determine how your current capabilities and resources stack up against your objectives.

4 Ways to Use Influencer Marketing for Faster Fresh Leads Creation

4 Ways to Use Influencer Marketing for Faster Fresh Leads Creation

 

It sometimes pays to stand on the shoulders of giants to extend your marketing messages’ reach and impact. That’s why influencer marketing is an ideal strategy for speeding up fresh leads creation and conversion. Influencers can help you connect with a larger audience or reach deeper levels of engagement which you’d most likely have a hard time achieving on your own.

It’s quite clear that influencer marketing works. There’s a ton of research that show leveraging the power of influencers does make a huge difference across marketing activities. Social influencers, for example, have been shown to boost traffic by up to 6 times and improve conversions by more than 100%. As a result, around 75% of marketers swear by influencer marketing when it comes to fresh leads creation and building customer loyalty.

In a nutshell, influencer marketing focuses on reaching out to people that your target marketing audience trusts and pays attention to. It starts with identifying the most relevant personalities in your industry or niche. Then, you should narrow down the types of influencers to target (e.g., thought leaders, industry insiders, celebrities, etc.), so that the help you’re getting aligns with your lead generation goals. Lastly, you need to have something to offer in exchange for influencers’ favor. Although most influencer outreach tactics won’t cost you a dime, you do need to let influencers know there’s something in it for them, too.

Once you have all the basics nailed down, here are four ways to leverage influencer marketing to generate and convert more leads:

 

  1. Build a community of influencers

The more influencers you bring together as part of your network, the better the reach and impact of your outreach efforts potentially become. Having an entire community of influencers to work with means better visibility and deeper engagement, even if a particular influencer has a relatively smaller audience size or a narrower focus.

Maintaining an extensive network of influencers also means you’ll be able to mix and match different influencer types to find the best combination that works for you. Think of it as diversifying your portfolio of influencer marketing assets, so that you won’t end up putting all your fresh leads creation eggs in one basket.

 

  1. Tailor content aimed at your influencers

In B2B content marketing, the classic content strategy is to put out informative, actionable content assets mapped to the target buyers’ pain points and stage in the purchase cycle. But content intended for B2B audiences typically doesn’t always match what influencers are looking for.

That’s why it’s also important for you to create content not only for your target decision-makers but for the influencers you want to reach out to as well. Influencers actively share content they find useful with their network. Just one well-placed mention from an influencer can take your fresh leads creation efforts to a whole new level.

 

  1. Make it about sharing and shareability

Speaking of sharing, one crucial area in influencer marketing is shareable content. As we’ve seen above, if you’re able to produce content that resonates with an influencer, then there’s a strong chance that particular influencer will feel compelled to share it. It’s crucial that you publish not only outstanding content but irresistibly shareable pieces as well.

They say that sharing is the currency of engagement in influencer marketing, so you also need to develop a “culture of sharing”. You need to encourage content sharing both internally within your organization and externally among your followers and customers.

 

  1. Collaborate with your influencers

One way to make your outreach mutually beneficial to you and your target influencers is through exploring opportunities for collaboration. Remember that part about offering something of value in exchange for your influencer’s help? Working together in a campaign or project can sometimes be enough to bring an interested influencer into your fold.

There are lots of strategies to do this: ask your influencer’s inputs for a blog post that rounds up expert advice on a topic, interview an influencer as a guest on a podcast episode, or let your influencer co-host a webinar on your site.

Cultivating relationships with influencers can help accelerate your fresh leads creation activities, but it doesn’t mean results are going to improve overnight. Influencer marketing takes time. But, with the right approach, the time you spend is going to be worth it.

5 Key Qualities to Look For in a Data Gathering Solution Provider

5 Key Qualities to Look For in a Data Gathering Solution Provider

We’re living through some pretty exciting times for data-driven marketing. Recent research from the Winterberry Group and Global Direct Marketing Association finds that almost 80% of marketers agree data is more critical than ever. The same study also reports that 88% actively use list segmentation and that 64% of marketers buy data from third-party data gathering solution providers and database vendors. If current trends continue, then practically all marketers will embrace the data-driven mindset in just a matter of years.

That means more and more marketers will be seeking the services of business list providers to help them fill their demand for rich, targeted data. If you happen to be part of this group, keep in mind that not all data gathering solution providers are created equal. There’s more to choosing a list vendor than simply comparing prices. To help you find the right data company for you, here’s a quick rundown of the things you should look for in a potential list seller.

 

  1. Data Source

One of the key things that a list vendor needs to let you know upfront is its data sources. Typically, data gathering solution companies acquire prospect and customer information through in-house data mining and/or third-party sources. Oftentimes, data providers use a combination of multiple internal and external sources to find and collect information.

The issue arises when a provider relies too heavily on outside data sources. That’s because data vendors do not exert the same level of control over data quality on externally-sourced data than it does on data obtained through in-house efforts. That’s why you really need to know this right off the bat.

 

  1. Data Shelf Life

As you know all too well already, data has an expiry date. On average, data decays at a rate of 2% each month. If you apply that to the millions of database records that most data providers claim they have, that’s going to be a huge number by any metric.

That’s why it pays to ask a potential list seller how recent the datasets they’re offering are. You don’t want to use marketing information that’s stale. Bad data will cost you bigtime, not only in terms of poor marketing results but also through significantly lower top and bottom-line figures. Look for vendors that refresh their records at least twice a year.

 

  1. QA Process

Data quality covers such a broad area that it can be a little challenging for a customer to evaluate how well a data provider’s QA processes are running. Some crucial things to consider are a list vendor’s data cleansing practices, its data validation methods, and the data maintenance technology it uses.

Another key differentiator that sets most great third-party data vendors apart from the rest is the use of manual data verification in their QA processes. Keeping humans in the data maintenance loop ensures that critical pieces of information aren’t left solely to the whims of algorithms and models.

 

  1. Metrics/KPIs

Just as any other marketing service you’re about to invest in, data gathering solution initiatives should include the relevant set of yardsticks for measuring performance. This makes it easier for you to set objectives and gauge how much the deliverable (list or added prospect details) is contributing to the campaign results.

As a starting point, you should ask a potential data gathering solution partner what deliverability rates to expect. Then, the data provider should also let you know what guarantees it’s making about the initial overall state of the data product along with the actions the vendor will take to fix data issues.

 

  1. Compliance Practices

Compliance is another crucial aspect you need to carefully consider when working with a list vendor. Depending on the geographic area you’re targeting, there can be an entire minefield of laws and regulations you may need to navigate around. Your list provider should help you steer clear of these potential problems.

While specific regulations vary, some important compliance considerations to think about in general include:

  • Data must be lawfully obtained.
  • Information must be given/acquired based on consent.
  • Opt-out requests must be promptly acted upon.
  • Records must be checked against DNC and DNE lists

You can now confidently assess data gathering solution providers as potential marketing partners. The important thing to take away from this blog entry is to do your due diligence before choosing a list vendor.

6 Firmographic Info to Gather on Your Next Contact List Appending Run

6 Firmographic Info to Gather on Your Next Contact List Appending Run

In B2B marketing, getting to know your prospects and leads better can oftentimes require adding more fields on your marketing database. That’s why contact list appending remains a critical component of a modern B2B marketer’s data management plan. When done right, data appending enables you to paint a sharper image of potential customers, so that you’ll be able to engage and nurture them the right way.

In a previous blog entry, we wrote about a number of tried-and-tested segmentation strategies to boost response and conversion rates. One approach we pointed out was to segment a list based on company-level information. In that same post, we also saw that firm-level attributes should act as your list segmentation baseline, since company details are widely-available and inexpensive to gather on scale.

But a key challenge when slicing a list based on firmographics is that there’s often way too much information you can collect on a company. It can be difficult to decide which attributes to focus on and which ones to ignore, given the dizzying amount of company-specific information available out there.

So, before you kick-start your next contact list appending project with an in-house team or with a third-party provider, don’t skimp on any of these six must-have firmographic attributes (arranged in no particular order):

 

  1. Job Title

If the fields in your B2B contact list include only the standard first and last names plus email address, then you’re doing your whole email marketing effort a massive disservice each time you reach out.

Job titles are a great way to start coming up with more relevant and personalized messages. Each job title represents an entire set of (potentially) unique pain points and interests you can use to refine your targeting precision.

 

  1. Role in Buying Process

Knowledge Tree says there may be 7 to 20 decision-makers involved in most B2B buying decisions. That’s a lot of people to reach out to, each with their own priorities, objectives, and interests to look after.

That’s why finding out what role a prospect plays in the purchase process can make or break your marketing campaign’s targeting and segmentation capabilities.

 

  1. Industry

This really should go without mentioning, but we’ll include this here for good measure. A target company’s industry should sit on or close to the top items on a list of must-have firmographic data.

On your upcoming contact list appending project, you (or your service provider) should match not only the industry name but also the corresponding NAICS/SIC codes as well.

 

  1. Number of Employees

Knowing a company’s size based on how large or small its workforce is can be an ideal segmentation/targeting route to take for some B2B organizations.

This company detail is especially useful if your solution or product line is geared toward businesses with a specific workforce size. A startup with fewer than 50 employees most likely has a different set of pain points when compared to an enterprise of more than 500 employees.

 

  1. Annual Revenues

Similar to employee size, a company’s annual revenue helps you objectively classify how large or small your target business is. Annual revenue is a standard field in most B2B prospect lists. It’s usually taken together with workforce size when segmenting or filtering B2B marketing databases.

Many third-party contact list appending companies supply figures for annual sales either as an actual amount or as an estimated range. So, when you choose to partner with a data provider, make sure that the value type for this field remains consistent for each record.

 

  1. Location

Depending on your targeting needs, geographic location can be as broad as a single field for country/region or as granular as street address. The main idea is to ensure consistency with the location data you or your service provider obtains.

You should also consider appending data on whether the given address refers to the company’s headquarters or one of its branches, unless this information is already apparent on the address field names themselves.

These are the top six types of company information you should be looking at as part of your B2B contact list appending activities. Of course, there are a ton of other firmographic data worth collecting, but let’s save those for a future post or for the comments section below.