The winning data-sourcing approach for mid-market companies
If all of the developments regarding third-party data have you re-examining your options, check out Sonjoy Ganguly's advice on how to proceed.
If we are talking straight as B2B marketers, it’s pretty clear that, while we all know about the importance of customer data, there’s a data sophistication curve in our ecosystem. That is, we all get it, but we don’t all have it.
For example, many SMB B2B marketers start and finish with IP targeting as their sole tactic. This is a leveling tactic, which means everyone is targeting the same people based on generic IP addresses.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the global enterprise B2B marketer who, with reams of data at their disposal and operating within a multilayered, data-centric culture, is well equipped to create their own data infrastructure, perhaps even build their own DMP and implement at scale.
But, in my view, where it gets really interesting is within the B2B “mid-market” sector. Here, there is a powerful opportunity to organize, keep nimble and establish highly targeted data assets at scale — by doing a couple of key things:
- Properly partnering and equipping your targeting solution with audience data, without the burden of institutional legacies.
- Leveraging one’s own data assets, as well as integrating meaningfully via third parties.
These players are better able to adopt an entrepreneurial and agile spirit, which enables them to capitalize on the evolving, increasingly mature options at hand. Taking advantage of the opportunity becomes a matter of knowing where to start and getting one’s proverbial ducks in a row — which is what I’ll address in this column.
Getting a handle on your assets
Proprietary assets are critical because they help your data stand apart. For example, if you’re only leveraging IP address data to target the companies you want to engage with, then you basically have the same reach that everyone has. There is nothing unique about your solution.
Intent data solutions/options, once a unique differentiator, have now become the norm. In a minute, we will talk about how you can use that data differently, in a way that will help you stand apart. But let’s start with this key question: Where is the intent data being sourced? If it’s basically scraped exchange data, that will provide you with great volume, but is it truly valuable for your business needs?
Unfortunately, B2B data is usually unavailable through the open exchanges. You need true B2B-specific sources for better quality intent data. You might also consider tapping public records, such as SEC filings, financial records, investor notices and so on; these can provide another massive stockpile data.
But consider whether this data is still relevant by the time it becomes available through financial instruments. When you’re trying to identify in-market prospects, the recency of information has a direct correlation with quality.
Meanwhile, firmographic data includes attributes about each company, such as company size, industry, region and more. Technographic data provides marketers an understanding around which potential targets have the right mix of technologies to make them a potential prospect. This is important to understand if you are to glean whether they are the right prospects or if you are potentially wasting resources, time and effort.
Once you have sourced the right mix of data assets, or found the best partner to help you, remember that data is only valuable if you use it properly. I can buy the best power tools, but in the hands of a novice, they would go to waste. The alternative is to buy cheap tools and keep them in the hands of a novice, but the results are likely the same. In essence, the tools are just part of the solution; you have to know how to use the data.
Employing your data assets
For most B2B marketers, you’ll primarily be using data to drive your targeting and analytics. So you’ll need to keep your intended applications in mind when considering sources.
It’s critical to be able to slice and dice your data in such a way that you can measure your reach and define your ideal customer profile with the right mix of scale and quality.
You want scale, so digital marketing is a great resource to reach a large audience. But understand that while marketing is a science, it’s not a perfect science. There will always be some waste. The goal is to balance the scale with quality by being as targeted as possible to reduce that waste.
Once you’ve settled on a targeting approach and launched a campaign, that doesn’t mean your data-sourcing work is over. To up your game, you need to use your analytics to measure the engagement, and then layer the data you gather back into your targeting approach. For example, if you see a group of folks that engage with a certain piece of content on your site, add that information to your database records for those profiles — so you are constantly learning and iterating.
As you can see, there’s a life cycle to data where targeting feeds analytics and then analytics feeds targeting. Make sure you’re crafting a holistic approach considering all of the pros and cons of various sources before you decide on your ideal partners.