Six tips to transform data into leads

The promise of 'lights out' marketing campaigns effortlessly creating a constant flow of ready-to-buy prospects is immensely appealing, but unfortunately, the majority of projects don't live up to the promise - in fact the 2015 Marketing Automation Benchmarking Report highlighted that a shocking 26 percent of projects delivered little or no benefit for their companies. Furthermore, even among companies who adopted marketing automation for more than two years only 40 percent are seeing increased revenues. Ouch.

In my experience, one of the greatest predictors of marketing automation success is a company’s approach its marketing data around prospects and customers. Of course, nobody’s data is perfect – but getting your data cleaned before you launch your marketing automation can save you money, since most platforms charge on the basis of the number of active contacts in the database. So, there is a real financial incentive to not importing garbage. Here are six practical steps you can take to make your data work harder for your marketing plans:

1. Data audit

Before you launch your automation platform, it’s essential you conduct a thorough audit of the content you have. After all, most marketing automation vendors charge their license fees based on the number of contacts in the database, so there is an immediate financial return from removing all those dead and duplicate records.

2. Data audit... again

Data decays, on average, about two percent per month, which means you can expect more than 20 percent of your contact data to become unusable each year. So, a one-off audit simply won’t cut it. Schedule it for at least once a year if not more often.

3. Simplify data capture

Reviewing how you capture your data and minimising the potential for error at source. Use drop-down fields to standardize the input. It is estimated that it costs $1 to verify a record as it is entered, $10 to correct it later and $100 if nothing is done.

4. Minimise fields captured

Be clear about why you are going to capture each field – remember each additional field reduces the number of completed forms you will get. So only capture those that you are planning to use – and add progressive profiling to capture additional information later in the journey if you need it.

5. Team with sales on data

Sales teams and process don’t typically go hand-in-hand. Support from sales leadership reinforcing the importance of capturing all relevant data into the CRM rather than in their notebook can be very helpful. Better still is to offer to the sales team some additional intelligence within the CRM system to make their selling more effective (eg. company news, latest contact engagement data etc). 

6. Enrich your data 

Getting the basic contact information cleaned is only a start. But there is huge value in adding further data sources to aid seller productivity – industry news, insights from social feeds, linkages to purchase history. The more sophisticated we become, the more confident we can be in the relationship between our activity and sales outcomes.

This is one of the many topics we will be exploring at the B2B Marketing training 'Making Marketing Automation Work' on 13 April, in London.