By Lisa Heay, Marketing Consultant for Heinz Marketing
As marketers plan their initiatives for 2017, many have Account-Based Marketing high on their lists. For good reason—in a recent survey of 400 B2B marketers, Dun & Bradstreet found personalization has been proven to deliver 5 to 8 times the ROI on marketing spend, and can lift sales by 10% or more. If you’re like me, reading this leaves me with dollar signs in my eyes, and you may be eager to jump right in and get started. But, it’s important to get all your ducks in a row first.
No one ever seems to talk about the importance of data cleanliness in support of your ABM efforts – it’s often assumed the data is just there and ready to segment. But, you can’t put the cart before the horse – data cleanliness should be step one in an effective ABM strategy. You’ll need to have accurate data for your target accounts and for the individuals you want to focus on, or your marketing efforts will still just be a shot in the dark.
Is your data clean?
Data is at the center of it all—and unfortunately, that data is dynamic. More than ever before, companies have loads of it—marketing technologies gather data from many sources, not only on the leads and accounts themselves, but also on how those leads interact with your brand, campaigns, and sales teams.
Let’s put it in perspective. Dun and Bradstreet’s 2017 B2B Marketing Data Report found that in the next 60 minutes, 271 businesses will move, 1274 business telephone numbers will change or be disconnected, 673 new businesses will open, 12 will file for bankruptcy, 767 CEO or owner changes will occur, and 8 companies will change their names. When an average of 6.8 individuals are involved in any given B2B purchase, you can see that this means trouble for effective targeting.
Not only that, bad data costs money! It’s estimated that companies spend an average of $100 to maintain each record in their database. Do the math—if you have 100,000 records in your database and 10% are inaccurate, that’s $1M down the drain. This problem compounds each year as marketer’s gather more and more data. “Garbage-in, garbage-out,” as they say.
Set yourself up for ABM success
Sound like a familiar challenge? You’re not alone. According to D&B, only 13% of marketers feel they have optimal data coverage in their key market segments, and less than 20% are extremely confident the segmented lists they build for campaigns represent their target audience.
Armed with more complete, accurate, and actionable data, 65% of the B2B marketers D&B surveyed attributed an increase in MQLs to improved customer segmentation and profiling practices. When these marketers were asked which activities are most impacted by the quality and accuracy of data, the top 3 answers are all core components of account-based marketing: personalized content and messaging, strategic profiling, and audience optimization/segmentation.
Clean, complete, consumable
Though it may seem daunting at first – it’s easy to start chipping away at the data problem. Regardless if you enlist the help of others or tackle it yourself, the first step towards healthy data is to improve the overall cleanliness, including de-duplication, removing old data, and updating your mission critical fields—often things like company name, email address, contact name, phone number, and title.
Once the data is clean, your next goal should be to build as complete a picture as possible. Do you need more information to determine if your accounts are the right target? It’s easy to get carried away with gathering data, but keep your focus on gathering the right data that enables your ABM strategy.
Keep in mind that data is dynamic and can become stale very quickly. Data Management should not be a one-off effort—be prepared to build this into your ongoing marketing processes. You’re not alone in this quest—D&B found more than half of the B2B marketers they surveyed are increasing their investment in data quality, and 56% of organizations grew their data management team in 2016.
Make your data work for you, not against you
ABM is an extremely effective strategy for building your business, but you need the ability to understand your target markets, to find the right individuals and companies that fit those targets, and then to engage with them in a meaningful way. It all starts with data.
Of course, data cleansing is only the prequel to a successful account-based marketing strategy. Join Matt Heinz and Robert Pease April 18th – 20th for an interactive online workshop ABM: From Strategy to Action and Results to learn the strategies, pitfalls and best practices that make a successful ABM program.