Maor Shlomo is the CEO of external data platform Explorium.
According to Forrester’s recent Marketing Survey, unlocking growth and generating demand continue to be top priorities for B2B marketing decision makers. Amid the seismic shifts in buying behavior, marketing leaders will expand digital transformation efforts, and the volume of data will continue to grow.
Despite these changes and technological advancements, 61% of marketers rank lead generation as their number one challenge. Over the last two years, a digital shift in buying behaviors, coupled with social unrest and economic uncertainty, has eroded the effectiveness of marketing tactics, leaving marketers to question how their strategies need to change.
For instance, a fundamental part of marketing is lead scoring. Not long ago, marketing could qualify leads by “scoring” them based on revenue, employees and industry sector and passing the best fits along to the sales team. But with all the changes to the business environment, traditional lead scoring models don’t work anymore.
But they could work if they had the right data. In case after case, marketing fails turn out to be, at bottom, failures of data. On the flip side, getting hold of new data—especially data from outside an organization’s four walls—can quickly right your marketing ship.
Here are three ways external data can help marketing teams better understand their targets and recalibrate their programs and some tips to help marketing leaders embark on the journey toward optimizing their campaigns and go-to-market (GTM) efforts with external data.
Rethink your prospects.
Marketing departments are used to accessing a collection of basic, static data signals like industry, company size, location, etc. for customer segmentation, lead scoring and targeting purposes. But access to limited information will only get them so far. How can they elevate their efforts?
Companies can’t rely on traditional data sources here. They need to cast the widest-possible net over different data sources from which to draw signals that correlate with their ideal customer profile (ICP).
Drive revenue lead by lead.
Missing information on incoming leads means missing out on valuable opportunities. For example, let’s say you’re looking to target companies with HR departments with over 25 people and growing for a specific offering. A general internet search or a traditional list vendor cannot provide this type of information.
If you don’t have access to these specific data points, great inbound leads fall through the cracks. Marketing teams should invest in automatically enriching every incoming lead, then scoring it and prioritizing it to make sure no promising leads are left behind.
Understand what’s working, what’s not and why.
Marketing teams are only as effective as their data and insights. Take, for example, an insurer that sells to small businesses. Perhaps they develop a product specifically for primary care physicians. They run an online sign-up campaign targeting clinics of a certain size that have been in business for at least five years.
Measuring the effectiveness of the campaign is not just counting the number of leads it generates. It also means discovering that clinics over 20 years in business rarely purchase online, so it should be omitted from this campaign. Or maybe identifying a correlation between positive online reviews and lower insurance risk. But you can’t get there without a great deal of external data combined with advanced analytical capabilities.
The faster the rate of change, the more important data becomes. The best way for marketing teams to survive this digital shift—which has every indication of being permanent—is to combine existing marketing and sales data with data variety and AI/ML. This will allow them to prioritize potential targets and optimize GTM efforts for success.
How To Get Started With External Data
Procuring and incorporating external data in marketing and sales efforts can have a substantial impact on sales growth. Using a variety of third-party data for lead generation activities is important. However, the new data must be high quality and reliable. When vetting external data vendors, make sure they provide data that is fresh, accurate and compliant.
At the same time, adding and integrating multiple external data vendors into your organization is a challenge since it involves several activities from identifying trustworthy vendors, validating and vetting their data; going through procurement and legal negotiations with each vendor; and finally, data clean-up, data prep, data matching and integration with your own data and systems. This process takes three to five months on average for one data source or vendor, and organizations typically five or more data sources, according to my company’s research, so you do the math.
Another important point is to leverage machine learning (ML) to gain a competitive edge. Take the next step from basic lead gen and lead scoring mechanism and build machine learning models that predict what works for your business—use your closed won and closed lost data to constantly find, predict and prioritize new accounts and contacts.
For all organizations, particularly those eager to get started on this path, unlimited access to external data and enhanced flexibility in using that data is crucial. By using these two elements, marketing teams can recalibrate their lead gen programs, discover every business that meets their ICP and continually improve the programs’ efficiency in order to accelerate growth.
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