8 Key Ingredients of a Successful Outbound Lead Generation Campaign

Different marketers swear by different recipes when cooking up outbound lead generation campaign strategies.

Of course, that barely registers as news, since no two sales funnels are ever exactly alike, especially with today’s buyer-initiated paths to purchase.

But while the specifics vary, the key ingredients pretty much tend to stay the same.

Today’s B2B buyers first reach out to a vendor only when they’ve already made it more than halfway (about 60% to 70% by some estimates) into the purchase process.

Buyers spend a great deal of that time researching and learning about the solution on their own.

When they finally talk to a vendor, they’re already close to making up their minds.

This shift in the purchase process places inbound marketing tactics (build it and they will come) as the default way to engage and nurture leads for most B2B marketers today.

But, as Pardot explains, outbound channels can improve the targeting precision and accelerate results of inbound marketing initiatives.

According to GetResponse, outbound helps inbound marketing with three main activities:

  • Promoting and distributing content
  • Building and cultivating relationships with your audience
  • Reengaging stalled or inactive leads

While each of these new roles requires its own set of strategies for success, outbound lead generation campaign results largely depend on being able to combine the following eight components in the right way:

 

1. Emails

Emails provide one key advantage no other channel can offer: personalized touches at scale.

That’s why emails remain the workhorse of lead generation, with more than half of marketers saying emails deliver the highest ROI through:

  • Engaging and nurturing prospects through a mix of promotional and relational messages
  • Using email activity for lead scoring
  • Interacting with prospects at key points in the conversion funnel

 

2. Live Conversations

The role of outbound telemarketing, according to marketing attribution platform Bizible, now covers obtaining thorough prospect information and market intelligence.

Successful outbound campaigns leverage telemarketing to uncover details (such as fit and purchase intent) directly from prospects in real-time.

These insights can then be used to refine lead nurturing.

 

3. Social Media

Social media works well both as an inbound and outbound lead generation channel.

It’s a great tool for reinforcing touch points made through other outbound platforms.

Social’s outbound lead generation functions include:

  • Warming up and nurturing prospects through social selling
  • Promoting gated content through organic and paid media
  • Driving interest and awareness through forums, groups, and communities
  • Geo-targeted social search
  • Collecting market intelligence through social listening

 

4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

As we’ve seen in a previous post, B2B marketers think that SEM or PPC is a great channel at capturing and engaging top-of-funnel leads.

That’s because 90% of B2B buyers begin their purchase process with an Internet search.

As a result, paid search and online ads can help you direct traffic to your campaign landing page.

 

5. Marketing Collaterals/Materials

Your outbound lead generation campaign needs a number of content pieces and marketing collaterals to bring the message to your target audience.

These typically include:

  • Email templates/copies
  • Call scripts
  • Whitepaper
  • Case studies
  • Brochures
  • Landing page

 

6. Campaign List

The contact list makes or breaks an outbound lead generation campaign.

It determines how many prospects you’ll reach as well as whether you’ll connect with the right people.

To find out if your list is up to the task, make sure you work with a clean, up-to-date, and accurate campaign database.

 

7. Marketing Automation

A lot of outbound lead generation activities are best carried out through marketing automation.

At the bare minimum, your marketing automation platform (MAP) should enable you to:

  • Integrate the various channels used in your campaign
  • Set customized actions based on specific triggers
  • Personalize and segment prospect engagement
  • Test, tweak, and track
  • Collaborate across your team

 

8. Outbound Team

Whether you assign outbound lead generation to a one-person team or to an entire department, your team needs to meet the following key requirements:

  • KPIs that not only measure, but drive results
  • Incentive scheme that rewards team members for both volume and quality of leads
  • Specialized skills in each outbound lead generation campaign area
  • Alignment with overall marketing and business goals
  • Training and learning opportunities

 

Conclusion:  The modern outbound lead generation program consists of many moving parts.

It takes the right combination of people, processes, and platforms to make the most out of outbound initiatives.

At ContactDB, we provide all eight key ingredients for a successful outbound lead generation campaign—from the database, to the team that will plan and manage the entire campaign for you.

How to Personalize Cold Emails Beyond ‘Hi [FirstName]’

How to Personalize Cold Emails Beyond

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Most people (and ISPs) mistakenly lump cold emails as junk mail. One proven way to ensure your cold emails don’t end up in the spam folder is to personalize your message. Today’s post provides a step-by-step guide on how to personalize cold emails beyond the usual “Hi [FirstName]” tactic—and to do this at scale.

Cold emails remain the workhorses of B2B marketing. They’re a good way to start building a relationship with prospects, influencers, and business partners. Sadly, cold emails continue to get a bad rap from people and ISPs alike. That’s because a lot of marketers misuse cold outreach to send out bulk, unwanted, and irrelevant (read: spam) messages to unsuspecting recipients. Although cold emails are, by nature, unsolicited messages, it’s how they’re being used that turns them into spam.

There are several strategies for improving the chances of your cold emails reaching the right recipient’s inbox, but personalization is demonstrably one of the most effective. Applying personalization tactics that really increase your emails’ relevance improves deliverability by:

  • Avoiding bulk, generic email blasts, hence preventing setting off spam filters
  • Improving engagement rates (opens, clicks, replies, etc.), which also boosts sender reputation
  • Minimizing spam complaints, which also improves sender reputation

Of course, personalization does have its downsides, one of which is that it requires time and a lot of research. But personalizing your cold emails pays off. That’s why we’re sharing this short practical guide on how to personalize cold emails at scale.

 

Step 1: Create personas for your target audience

Personas help you precisely define who your target recipients are. With personas, it’s much easier to accurately target and segment your audience. If you haven’t yet identified personas for your target recipients, Marketingprofs suggests building ideal buyer profiles with the following info:

  • Role in the buying process
  • Fears and challenges
  • Drivers and motivators
  • Organizational goal and priorities
  • Problems and issues

 

Step 2: Build your cold email list

Now that you’ve identified your target audience personas, you’re going to use the generated profiles for finding contacts to include in your cold email list. If you already have an existing email contact database, the process involves simply filtering the list using the profiles’ attributes.

If you don’t yet have a current list to fetch records from, you can either gather the contacts through your own research or work with a third-party list vendor.

 

Step 3: Find relevant and relatable info for each recipient

IT’s now time to get your hands dirty. This step involves doing some (mostly) manual, tedious research. The goal here is to mine pieces of information specific to each recipient that you can then mention in your cold email copy.

Sales engagement platform provider PersistIQ recommends the “3 takeaways in 3 minutes” approach when determining what personal details to include in your research. The idea is to start with 3 personal facts about each prospect you can gather in 3 minutes. Each of these pieces of information should help you connect with that particular prospect. These include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Current location
  • Work history
  • School or university
  • Mutual connections

Other personalization snippets include:

  • Website
  • Blog post and articles
  • Company news and announcements
  • Social media posts

Append some or all of these pieces of prospect data onto the cold email list you generated (or acquired) in step 2.

 

Step 4: Craft the personalized email template

In the previous step, you gathered relatable prospect information for each recipient. Now, it’s time to write the email template (or templates) where the relevant personal facts will be inserted.

While we all have our own cold email writing styles, here’s a quick rundown of email personalization best practices to keep in mind:

  • Try to mention one of the personal facts on the subject line
  • Start the body by pointing out another relatable fact
  • Segue into the main portion of your message
  • End with a clear call to action

 

Conclusion

Personalized emails tend to produce better engagement rates (26% higher open rates, 14% higher CTRs, and 10% conversion rates). Not only that, personalization tends to boost deliverability and inbox placement, especially for cold emails. So, before doing your next cold email outreach, try a little personalization first.

Top Email Marketing Benchmarks of 2017 (and How to Do Better in 2018)

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In a few short days, we’ll be starting another email marketing year. But before we do that, let’s first look back at 2017 and see how well email marketers collectively performed. Even more importantly, let’s use these email marketing benchmarks as guideposts to do better in the upcoming year.

Today’s blog entry compiles key 2017 email marketing benchmarks from Delivera, MailChimp, Inbox Marketer, and SignUp.to. The numbers cited here describe 2017’s email marketing campaigns in terms of oepns, clicks, bounces, and other metrics, plus some actionable tips to help you improve in each category. Let’s dive right in.

 

Opens

While there’s some variation in the actual number, our data sources all seem to agree on the average email marketing open rates in 2017:

  • The average open rate is 31.92% for all industries (Delivera).
  • On average, overall open rate was recorded at 24.79% (SignUp.to)
  • Open rates increase to 28.8%, up from 25.9% in the past year (Inbox Marketer).
  • On a per-industry level, open rates ranged from 15.2% to 28.4% and averaged 21.8% (MailChimp)

This year, the following tactics resulted in better-than-average open rates:

  • Subject lines less than 50 characters long resulted in 58% open rate (Adestra).
  • The open rate for personalized emails is 1.4 times higher than generic ones (Statista).
  • Segmentation results in 14.3% higher open rates (MailChimp).

 

Click-Throughs

In two of the references we used, the findings indicate overall higher click-through rates for the year (although the number widely varied):

  • Overall, CTRs incrementally increased by 0.8 percentage points, averaging 5.8% (Inbox Marketer).
  • Average CTRs across all sectors were reported to be 3.57 percent (Delivera).
  • CTRs came in at 4.19% for all industries (SignUp.to).
  • Depending on the industry, CTRs ranged between 1.25% to 5.13%, averaging 2.62% (MailChimp).

Here’s how email best practices enhanced CTRs of email campaigns:

  • Trigger emails generate 2x higher CTRs than traditional emails (Super Office).
  • CTRs for segmented emails are more than 8x higher than non-segmented emails (Super Office).
  • Subject line personalization improves CTRs by 17.36% (MarketingSherpa).

 

Click-to-Open

While CTRs measure the number of clicks over the number of emails sent, the click-to-open rate (CTOR) expresses the number of clicks as a percentage of the total opens. That’s why CTOR is a better gauge of email engagement.

SignUp.to finds that average CTOR is around 11.88% (SignUp.to). Meanwhile, Smart Insights recommends aiming for a CTOR between 10% to 15%. If your campaign is underperforming in terms of click-to-opens, follow the below tips:

  • Write short and clear subject lines.
  • Keep your copy between 50 to 125 words long.
  • Make sure your call-to-action (CTA) stands out.
  • Close with a specific option and end with gratitude.

 

Hard Bounces

Email marketers remain very effective at keeping hard bounces in check. According to Inbox Manager, bounce rates remain low at just 0.9% across all industries in 2017.

MailChimp’s industry-level email marketing benchmarks report shows that hard bounce rates vary from industry to industry, with a minimum of 0.7% and a maximum of 1.2%.

To keep your hard bounce rates within acceptable limits, try out the following:

Use a double opt-in list signup method

Keep your list spotlessly clean

Verify each contact in your list

Work with a data scrubbing and maintenance company

 

Conclusion

While averages and aggregate numbers give us a quick way to compare and evaluate our campaigns, keep in mind that these headline values oftentimes don’t tell the whole story. That’s why we need to go past these top-level email marketing benchmarks to find out what’s really going on. In that sense, the best reference metrics will always be your own campaign results.

Happy New Year!

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the Holidays

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the Holidays

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The 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!

5 Tradeshow Tips to Grow Human Resource Email Lists the Right Way

Tips to Grow Human Resource Email Lists

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Surveys reveal that between 75% to 77% of B2B marketers rank in-person events like tradeshows and conferences as their top-performing marketing tactic. Tradeshows are great venues for finding qualified leads in an industry or market, since these events are where you’ll typically meet decision-makers, influencers, and thought leaders face-to-face. That’s why, if you’re looking for ways to grow your human resource email lists, joining relevant HR conferences can be the right strategy.

That is, if you know how to leverage your tradeshow attendance for email list building. For today’s post, we’ve hand-picked five proven tips you can quickly apply on your next HR event to make each contact count.

 

  1. Choose your tradeshows wisely

From the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition to the HR Tech Expo, there’s no shortage of in-person HR events happening each year. But, even if you can afford to attend every single one of them, it’s best to join only those tradeshows relevant to your target customer or solution. This keeps potential email contacts to only within your target prospects as much as possible.

So, make sure to do thorough research on a tradeshow you’re interested in. See to it that the event’s target attendees match your target decision-maker profile. Be sure that your offer is consistent with the theme or focus, and not just tangentially related.

 

  1. Use the right lead capture tools

A study done by event automation provider Certain, Inc. finds that 73% of marketers still use manual data capture tools at live events. That’s despite the availability of digital lead retrieval tools that make collecting attendee contact details many times simpler and faster than with traditional fishbowl and spiral notebooks.

Capturing lead information is now as easy as downloading apps for scanning badges, administering surveys, taking notes, prequalifying leads, and doing other event lead generation activities.

 

  1. Segment your tradeshow contacts

Most event marketing experts agree that contacts obtained at tradeshows and conferences need to be segmented as soon as acquired. Tradeshow contacts should be grouped according to the action or interest they’re showing. You can classify these prospects into labels like “visited booth”, “requested more information”, “set appointment”, and “general attendee”.

This helps you put together a more robust follow-up plan and send relevant messages later on. As we’ll see in the following point, segmentation lets you avoid spammy behavior as well as steer clear of opt-in issues with your human resource email lists.

 

  1. Follow up on time and on point

According to the same Certain, Inc. study mentioned above, 57% of marketers say it takes four days for them to follow up with tradeshow leads. There’s, of course, no universal rule on the best time to check back with event prospects but, in general, the sooner you follow up, the better.

If you’ve classified contacts into appropriate segments, then you’ll be better able to craft a more relevant and compelling email message for each group. Don’t send the same follow-up email to all your tradeshow contacts.  Always start off by reminding your leads you met at the event and tell them how you were able to obtain their contact information.

 

  1. Validate and verify email addresses right away

Before you add the tradeshow contacts into your main human resource email lists, there are some things you need to do first:

  • Verify if the contact details are correct
  • Look for duplicates and redundant entries
  • Check whether an email address already exists in your main database
  • Remove hard bounces
  • Ask if a contact wants to opt out

Also, if the event organizer provides you with a list of attendees, you should never directly add them as contacts in your main database. The best thing to do is send one-on-one email to these contacts asking them to opt in.

With these expert tradeshow tips, it’s going to be much easier for you to cultivate your human resource email lists. The key thing to remember is to always be timely and relevant.

4 Tips to Better Gauge the ROI of Your Custom Targeted Database

4 Tips to Better Gauge the ROI of Your Custom Targeted Database

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In a previous post, we took a look at five key metrics to gauge your list’s performance and effectiveness. But we left out one crucial KPI that you should always be keeping track of: the ROI that your list generates. As we’ll see below, measuring exactly how much return a Custom Targeted Database brings to the table can become a little challenging. That’s why we’re setting aside this entire entry to help you get started with this critical marketing yardstick.

It’s typically hard to correctly determine the ROI of most custom target lists since they’re mostly used for top-of-funnel activities. This means that, by the time a lead becomes a customer, the touch points associated with the contact list that contributed to the sale are often difficult to trace since they took place at earlier stages in the process.

To get around this, the following tips can help you reliably measure how much revenue your custom targeted database helped generate:

 

  1. Know exactly where contacts come from.

In order to accurately gauge ROI, you need to find out where every contact that becomes part of your list originated from. Did a lead come from organic sources? Which paid source did a particular database record pass through before entering your funnel?

For your custom targeted database, this means having separate fields that report where and how you got the contact information.

 

  1. Refine your sales funnel stages.

There’s a surprising statistic from MarketingSherpa being thrown around that claims 68% of marketers haven’t yet identified their sales funnel. If you happen to be part of this group, you need to define and refine the stages in your sales funnel right now.

What are the steps a prospect goes through before being deemed sales-ready? What actions constitute a conversion in each of these steps?

 

  1. Track and score leads throughout your funnel.

Once you’ve established the precise steps that a prospect has to go through in order to turn into an opportunity, you now need to assign points that indicate how sales-qualified that particular lead is.

This is called lead scoring and is a crucial component of accurately measuring marketing ROI. Points are assigned based on the lead’s attributes (demographic and firmographic details) and their actions (interest and intent).

 

  1. Match closed deals with past touch points.

Now that you’ve got contact source information and lead scores recorded in your custom targeted database, it’s time to take a look at the data for deal closes. These closes should be tied back to the series of touch points that preceded the deal.

Marketingprofs says there are four categories of closes based on source and nurture history. It’s important that you identify the right classification for a particular deal, so that credit and attribution can be correctly given.

You can now start reliably measuring the ROI of custom target lists with these four tips in mind. The main idea is that your custom targeted database does contribute to the revenues your marketing and sales processes generate, provided that you’re using it correctly in your campaigns.

5 Metrics to Measure the Health of Your B2B Contact List

B2B Contact List

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You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s according to an old business adage that’s still relevant in marketing today, especially now that marketers are drowning in an ocean of metrics and KPIs that let them know what works and what doesn’t. So what numbers should you be keeping track of to get a feel for how your B2B contact list is performing?

As you may know all too well already, everything in B2B marketing starts with your list. That’s why you need to keep this critical campaign component firing on all four cylinders. To find out whether your B2B contact leads database is really up to the task, here are the five key metrics you should always be monitoring:

 

  1. Inbox Placement Rates and Delivery Rates

Inbox placement rates (IPRs) and delivery rates are two distinct metrics that measure email deliverability, although they’re often incorrectly used interchangeably. Delivery rates count the number of emails sent that didn’t bounce, while IPRs only consider emails that actually made it into the recipients’ inbox.

These two numbers can indicate the overall health of your B2B contact list. Low IPRs and delivery rates are often taken as signs that a list probably needs some scrubbing and updating. Recent research from Return Path reports that average global inbox placement rates hover around 80%.

 

  1. Hard Bounces

Bounce rates refer to the percentage of total emails that were not delivered. Soft bounces happen when emails get rejected from the recipient’s server because of a full inbox. Hard bounces, on the other hand, take place when emails are not delivered because of invalid email addresses.

You want to keep an eye on hard bounce rates, since ISPs and mail providers view high levels of hard bounces as a sign of spammy behavior. To help minimize hard bounces, regularly scrub your B2B contact list for invalid or non-existent email addresses.

 

  1. Unengaged Subscribers

Unengaged subscribers are inactive contacts in your list that have yet to promptly opt out. These are subscribers who remain on your B2B contact leads database but haven’t opened or responded to your emails in a while.

Sending emails to unengaged subscribers can harm email deliverability, since doing this tends to trigger spam alerts in most ISPs. So, manage inactive subscribers with a reengagement campaign or by removing them from your B2B contact list altogether.

 

  1. List Churn Rate

List churn rate or attrition rate is the proportion of subscribers that either opt out or drop out of your list in a given period. Factors like the number of opt-outs, hard bounces, spam complaints, and subscriber inactivity are the main drivers behind list churn rates.

List churn tells you how fast your B2B contact leads database is shrinking. That’s why you need to acquire new contacts at a rate that exceeds the churn rate in order to grow your list. GetResponse estimates average annual list churn rates to be around 25%-30%.

 

  1. Spam Complaints/Reports

Every time a recipient marks your email as spam, you’re racking up spam complaints under your sender record. Once the number of spam complaints exceeds a given threshold, mailbox providers automatically classify your emails as junk. According to data from MailChimp, average spam complaint rates can vary from 0.01% to 0.04%, depending on the industry.

While spam complaints tend to reflect the quality of your email messages, they can also give you an idea about the quality of your B2B contact list. Email lists sometimes contain spam traps, which are email addresses created by mailbox providers to catch spammers red-handed. Clearly, it’s important that you find and remove this type of address from your B2B contacts leads database to help reduce the risk of incurring spam complaints.

Now, you know the crucial set of numbers that help you accurately gauge your contact list’s performance. To gain sharper insights on your B2B contact list, don’t just passively measure these metrics against industry benchmarks. Also actively run tests designed to optimize your database on a regular basis.

A 5-Point Data Hygiene Plan for Your B2B Contact Leads Database

A 5-Point Data Hygiene Plan for Your B2B Contact Leads Database

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You may not know it, but you’re wasting at least 12% of revenues due to bad marketing data. That’s according to a review from Econsultancy that says bad data tend to directly impact profitability in as much as 88% of companies.

That’s why proper data hygiene is as important as ever, since practically every marketer today makes decisions based on insights extracted from the data sitting in their CRM or prospect lists. In today’s post, we’ll go over the five key points you need to carefully consider in order to come up with an actionable data hygiene plan for your B2B contact leads database.

 

  1. Develop a thorough data maintenance routine.

Inaccurate data occupies just one segment    in the Venn diagram of bad data. There are other data quality issues—such as missing data, inconsistent data, duplicate data, and unsynchronized data—that you also have to watch out for.

So, you need data maintenance initiatives that both prevent and fix data quality issues at different stages of your data life cycle—from data collection all the way to data removal.

 

  1. Remove data barriers and silos.

In a typical B2B organization, it’s not uncommon to find multiple instances of the same piece of prospect data housed in separate locations (e.g., marketing automation platform for marketing and CRM database for sales). This increases the possibility of having unsynchronized, inconsistent, and misaligned information used by different teams.

A good data hygiene plan also needs to take into account potential barriers to the free flow of data across users, teams, and departments. There should only be one version of a piece of prospect information at any given time.

 

  1. Supplement manual with automated processes.

For best results, data hygiene should be carried out with the right mix of manual and automated data cleansing methods. While tools like AI and machine learning have now streamlined data hygiene tasks, there’s still a clear need to keep humans in the loop.

Take, for example, data deduplication. Most commercial data scrubbing packages come shipped with powerful deduplication capabilities, which are especially helpful for scrubbing a large B2B contact leads database. But the deduplication process still requires human input to correctly identify which redundant records to keep and which ones to discard.

 

  1. Rethink your entire data quality approach.

Another key point that your data hygiene action plan needs to address is to make data quality everyone’s concern. While you need to define clear roles and assign specific tasks for maintaining data quality, it’s equally important to make sure everybody’s onboard.

Also, keep in mind that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, so you need to choose a relevant set of KPIs and benchmarks to gauge how well your data hygiene initiatives are performing.

 

  1. Know when and how to look for expert help.

In some cases, outsourcing part of your data hygiene program to a data quality solutions provider is a more practical option than doing it yourself. For instance, enriching your prospect data for improved segmentation is best done with a third-party data provider, since doing this in-house can take up time and resources which could be better spent elsewhere.

So, take stock of your current data hygiene capabilities, and let a reputable data quality solutions provider handle those activities that you’d have a hard time carrying out in-house.

Now that you’ve nailed down what a data hygiene action plan should contain, it’s time for you to flesh out concrete ideas for maintaining data quality. Use these five points as guidelines, and be sure to track, test, and tweak your strategy.

The 5 Cases Where It’s Okay to Buy a B2B Contact Database

buy b2b contact database

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If you go around asking whether to buy a B2B contact database, chances are you’d soon end up being chastised for simply just thinking about it. This is a little unfortunate, since a bought list sometimes makes more business sense. In fact, there are specific cases where buying a list can potentially bring you better results than taking the organic route.

The main reason why a lot of marketers advise against buying B2B contact databases is that people tend to use purchased lists for spamming contacts. While this is a valid point, the truth is that it still boils down to how you use a bought list that determines whether you’re engaging in spammy activities. So with that aside, here are five situations where it’s really okay for you to buy a B2B contact list:

 

Case 1:  Your solution solves a real pain point.

Early-stage investor and serial entrepreneur Jason Lemkin raises this very interesting idea. If you can solve a real pain point, outbound marketing will always work for you.

The same can be said about using a bought prospect list in your campaigns. When your solution fixes an urgent issue or fulfills a pressing need that your target buyers are experiencing right now, why wait for leads to naturally start trickling into your funnel? Why not reach out to them and deliver value right away?

 

Case 2:  You’ve clearly identified your target prospects.

In an eye-opening post, creative strategist Jake Jorgovan shares the story behind his cold email campaign that landed him a consulting project with a bunch of new customers including some Fortune 500 clients.

Among the key points he mentions is that he was only able to build a cold email list after knowing exactly who the target audience was. So, instead of sending generic templates, he came up with relevant, compelling email messages that cold prospects were interested in.

 

Case 3:  You’re targeting a high-turnover industry.

It’s no secret that marketing data has an expiration date. MarketingSherpa places the average rate of database decay at about 2.1% per month or around 22.5% each year. For some industries, this can reach as high as 6.1% every month.

So if you’re targeting decision-makers in an industry where people tend to change job titles or move to new locations relatively frequently, one way to keep up is through using bought contact databases from a reputable list vendor.

 

Case 4:  You don’t have the resources to build a list at scale.

Aside from the time investment required to help your B2B list reach critical mass, organically growing your database also needs tons of effort and the right kind of expertise.

That’s why, if you’re unable to make all these necessary commitments, buying a contact list is a more viable option. What you’re paying for when you buy B2B contact database goes beyond list records. You’re putting resources where they’re needed the most.

 

Case 5:  You’re expected to deliver results in the near-term.

Let’s say your revenue goal for this quarter is $300,000, the average deal size is $10,000, and your sales cycle is around two weeks. That means you need to close 30 deals. At a close rate of 5%, you need to generate at least 600 new leads by the first half of the quarter to reach your targets.

While we’ve played around with figures in our hypothetical scenario above, the main point is that hitting sales targets is still pretty much a numbers game. In most industries, B2B conversion rates (lead-to-opportunity and opportunity-to-close rates) simply aren’t in your favor, so you need to start out with a large number of relevant prospects to get any meaningful results further down the funnel.

If you find yourself in any of the above situations, then by all means start looking for a trusted list vendor right now. Don’t pay too much attention to people who think they know what’s good for your campaign. Instead, let your solution, audience, industry, capabilities, and objectives decide whether you should buy a B2B contact database.

Is Your B2B Contact Leads Database Ready for the AI Revolution?

Is Your B2B Contact/Leads Database Ready for the AI Revolution

image credits goes to the original owner

One of the main takeaways from Salesforce’s 2017 STATE of MARKETING report  is that investments in AI has outpaced spending in other marketing tech areas. B2B marketers are adopting AI technologies ranging from predictive lead scoring to chatbots in droves. But before you get caught up in the hype, there’s one thing you need to nail down before you start applying AI into your marketing processes: Is your B2B contact leads database ready for AI at all?

To answer this, we first need to separate the reality and the publicity behind AI’s capabilities in B2B marketing today. MarTech Advisor points to four key areas where B2B marketers can realistically expect AI to lend them a helping hand:

  • Scoring and ranking leads.
  • Segmentation and content personalization
  • Discovering and implementing Marketing automation strategies
  • Sales enablement and acceleration

At its present development stage, the best that AI technology can do is allow you to carry out the tasks in each of the above activities more efficiently. While some aspects of AI can uncover prospect behavior invisible to the unaided human B2B marketer, the reality is that AI remains just a tool, and tools are only as effective as the persons and processes using them.

So if you think AI has a place in your marketing toolkit, you first need to take a good look at your B2B contact leads database.

Like everything else in marketing, AI depends on good data. The data currently sitting in your CRM and datasets you’re about to collect need to meet some basic requirements before starting AI-enabled campaigns. In an interesting video series, Brandon Rohrer at Microsoft Azzure thinks of data science and AI as a lot like making pizza: the better the ingredients (your data), the better the final product (marketing insights).

There are four qualities that any dataset must satisfy to be ready for AI and data science:

  1. Relevant: Do the fields and records in your B2B contact leads database help you answer the questions you’re exploring? For example, which lead attributes in your CRM influence the likelihood that a prospect turns into a customer within the next quarter?
  2. Accurate: How reliable are the models/profiles generated from your marketing database? Do the records contain incorrect, outdated, redundant, or invalid entries?
  3. Connected: Are there significant gaps in your marketing data? What percentage of records contain empty fields?
  4. Sufficient: Do you have enough records to build robust AI models?

While each of the above criteria is important, we need to carefully consider sufficiency. AI requires data–lots of data. The algorithms that power most AI applications run on vast amounts of examples in their training set. In general, the more examples you use to train an AI algorithm, the more accurate the resulting model gets.

So before you think about applying AI in marketing, you first have to bring your contact leads database up to snuff.  Use the previous ideas as your guidelines and maximize the power of artificial intelligence.