Data is the currency we have at our disposal that’s informative, and which allows us to be more creative than a straight-up monetary budget. Understanding and maintaining our data is how we can activate more informed marketing campaigns, faster.
When was the last time you gave your database some attention?
Data should always be front of mind for marketers. What about 2020 and all its shake up? There’s an urgency for marketers to get familiar with their data, as realities change minute to minute, and assumptions are squashed.
These are points that came to mind as I reflected on the data marketing relies on, how it’s been potentially impacted, and what can be easily overlooked.
This post has been adapted from the webinar “Acquiring and Retaining Customers – A Shared Responsibility for Growth”, hosted by Validity and featuring the SalesforceBen team. Register now for the next edition on Thursday, 24th September 3pm BST / 10am EST!
1. Standards for Inbound Data
We know that some ways marketers used to collect data (eg. at trade shows) have now been replaced with other tools or methods. One that springs to mind are virtual event platforms, (especially as a direct replacement to trade shows!)
There may have been standards set, whether you were aware of them or not, to ensure that the data going into Salesforce would be accepted by Salesforce. Why would a lead you have captured at an event, physical or virtual, not make it into Salesforce?
- Completedness: the record does not have data in all the Salesforce required fields.
- Format: the data doesn’t fit the correct length, or characters, eg. an email address must have ‘@’
- Duplicates: the lead that is apparently new already exists in Salesforce, and therefore is either blocked from being created, or just flagged to the admin.
You are beginning to see why I said marketers need to know what’s expected from inbound data! In your organisation, which fields do records need to be completed? How should the data in those fields be formatted?
Switching data acquisition channels is not as straightforward as the new tool makes it sound. There are a ton of data considerations for integrated systems, and a good Salesforce org will hold you accountable to data quality!
So, factor in time for you and your team to get the data foundation right for any new tools you want to introduce.
2. Ideal Customer Profile Changes
As a marketer, you have an idea of who your ideal buyer is. There are certain characteristics that a prospect has which means they will be a good fit for your product/service. This is known as your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
For those that use Pardot, you define your ICP using prospect grading criteria.
In times of flux, launching new or ‘reimagined’ products may require a new ICP, or simply to market/sell smarter to prospects. Different data points may matter to you now than they did previously, for example, industry may be more important to capture, and physical location (prospect city) may matter less.
Ensure that any measurement that indicates ICP match (eg. Pardot grading) is reflecting the reality.
From there, you can ask yourself more questions. What does a marketing qualified lead (MQL) now look like? Has the automation behind that (eg. Pardot automation rules, assignment roles) been adjusted? Has validation been put in place on Salesforce leads to ensure that leads (prospects) can only reach a certain stage if they have key fields populated?
Like a ‘snowball effect’, a change in ICP can quickly drag several considerations alongside it.
3. Valid Email Addresses in the Database
Email addresses become outdated fast, a long-standing fact, especially in B2B databases where prospects move organisations, or the company itself goes out of business. Emailing to dead email addresses can negatively impact your email deliverability rating in the long term.
Sadly in times of unemployment and commercial hardship, invalid email addresses are a reality we have to wake up to.
When was the last time you checked the validity of your email database? Running a simple email verification check will identify which email addresses have become invalid. You’d be surprised. I would run these checks approximately every 6 months to weed out those dead addresses as one of the measures I take to protect deliverability.
Here are some recommendations: 4 Email List Verification Tools for Pardot List Cleaning
4. Defining active vs. inactive individuals
Prospect could signal behaviour changes. Someone that was once a ‘hot’ lead (racking up their Pardot score) has now gone quiet. They’re not opening emails, not visiting your website, and not answering calls from your sales team.
A major element of marketing automation is listening, as much as it is talking to prospects. Listen to what the prospects’ activity data is telling you before spraying more communications their way.
Although you should, you may decide that you don’t have the spare time to evaluate engagement patterns. There can be consequences to not pausing that will come at you further down the line. There’s no point in wasting budget and effort trying to engage people that may have once been interested and now are making zero engagement signals.
Summary: Speed to roll-out marketing initiatives
Everything comes together here. Marketers may have been under pressure to go live with marketing campaigns that were never planned pre COVID, so being able to activate a campaign fast is a serious advantage. Let’s pause to think how taking responsibility for our data can potentially lead to campaigns coming together faster with less errors and less risk (eg. in data segmentation).
Our data shows the reality and keeping in touch with it is essential; after such turbulent times in some industries, data is unlikely to show how things were previous, or reflect our loosely made assumptions.
In organisations value marketing, other teams will be coming to marketing for intel and for support – after all, the tactics marketing use promise smarter engagement, at scale, with close insight.