How to Get the Most From Your B2B Marketing Lists

For those of us who have operated in the B2B marketing space, there is a broad understanding that data on business prospects often leaves much to be desired.  It’s even more stark a shortfall if you have worked with data on consumers where we have a huge amount of insight on each and every consumer.

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The depth of consumer data literally dwarfs what is available on businesses.  There is lifestyle data, interests from magazine subscriptions, Prism Clusters and so on.  What do we have one businesses?  Name, address, years in business, SIC code and number of employees seems to be the bulk of it.  There’s nothing really to sink your teeth into.

Then there are the accuracy issues.  The quality of every list suffers over time, but business lists take this to a new level.  Issues occur regularly on the business side, as they go out of business, merge or get acquired, close offices, etc., but the real shortfall is in finding particular people with specific responsibilities within those businesses.

With all these issues putting pressure on the quality of your purchased data, you need to do all you can to squeeze the most out of your business marketing lists.  Here are some tips you help you do that.

  • Get as many ways to contact the target as possible.  Buying lists that are only emails or phone number or physical address may be required from time to time to reach a specific audience, but in general, you’ll do best with lists that have more touch points.
  • When purchasing, base your decision on the cost per your target, rather than cost per record.  Stay focused on who it is you are trying to reach.
  • Refresh your data as often as you can.  Many data purchases include a year’s license and a chance to refresh the data at regular intervals.  Despite the work involved, it’s worth the effort.
  • Monitor quality of all of your lists.  When quality suffers and is demonstrable, share that feedback with the vendor, using detailed data if you can.  You’ll improve the overall quality as well as likely getting some negotiating room the next time.
  • Consider building your own database.  Depending on the size of your target market, it might be best to start with a basic business list and use some telemarketer time to identify and add the decision makers’ information to the database.

In the long run, we can at least hope that the overall quality of B2B lists will improve, with “dig data” style aggregation of available data to hone in on the right person within a business or perhaps someone (e.g. LinkedIn) will get a better handle on individuals’ current professional persona and solve the whole issue.  Until then, practice these and other methods to make the most of what’s available.

Do you find quality issues with business lists? What have your best sources been?

 

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/

Follow his updates on Twitter @lundbohm

Top Four Ways to Improve Your Lead Generation

A typical marketing department handles all sorts of specialized activities.  You have visually creative people, writers, trade show experts, public relations specialists and the database whiz.  Each of these people has an area of expertise and they operate sometimes totally within that specialty.  But at some point, all of what marketing does needs to come together and help bring in and close new sales.

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More recently, some companies have implemented “lead generation” titles, dedicating a person whose job it is to be responsible for lead generation.  This person plans the outbound campaigns, executes the marketing and studies the results in search of the perfect marketing campaign.  With or without that position, marketing needs to generate leads and provide them to sales.  It’s really the prime objective.

So, for lead generation to be successful, all the specialists within the marketing department must do their jobs.  In addition, there are some steps that you can take to improve the chances that your lead production is up to par.

  1. Develop a detailed lead generation plan.  Sit down with sales at the start of your planning cycle and determine how many “qualified leads” are going to be needed to meet the new revenue goals. Make those numbers the goals for lead generation for the entire marketing department.  Track results to those goals.  Then, in the event you get behind on goals, you’ll be able to focus better on where the issues lie; are there enough leads or has something changed in our ability to close them?
  2. Make sure the qualification criteria is well-understood.  The most important aspect of successful lead generation is the hand-off between marketing and sales.  The exact definition must be understood by both sides and applied evenly across the board.  Any discussion with sales concerning lead quality should center on this criteria, not individual campaign dynamics.
  3. Track leads from cradle to grave.  Great strides in CRM quality have been made in the past decade.  While there are numerous issues with tracking lead source and additional customer touches, the more you can track, the better.  Where did “a lead” enter your system and where did it leave?  How many times did we touch each prospect?  Once you can effectively count the currency, it becomes much easier to adjust and improve the system.
  4. Be transparent with campaign results.  Today’s CRM and marketing automation tools provide attractive dashboards and data presentation tools.  Use these to automatically track and share the up-to-the-minute results on campaigns.  Share it with everyone in the company who is interested.  Invite conversation about the value of each campaign.  You want everyone to feel marketing’s issues and understand what goes in to and comes out of a campaign.

A great deal of effort of every business goes into creating leads to generate new sales.  It is indeed one of those mission-critical aspects of a company’s success.  If you follow these steps, you’ll be way down the path of creating ample leads, with the least hassle.

Which of these steps does your company do?  What is the biggest hurdle to your lead generation?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/

Follow his updates on Twitter @lundbohm

Is B2B Direct Mail Dead?

Corporate mail rooms were once teeming with marketing messages.  Glossy postcards, carefully-designed envelopes and catalogs filled the corporate inbox.  Industry publications, including large scale formats, proudly promoted the new and exciting.

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Then direct mail in B2B fell out of favor.  The obvious cost advantages of email, websites and social media have cannibalized what was once a powerhouse communication channel.  Social media has viral and two-way advantages.  Direct mail pales in comparison in flexibility, utility and functionality.  RIP direct mail, right?

Not so fast.  B2B marketers from many industries are seeing success with direct mail.  Sometimes a successful campaign gains power from integration with online and email marketing, sharing imagery and message to maximize the “frequency” part of the marketing equation.  Other times an impressive, 3D piece can deliver the message and get it noticed like no other medium.

Some products or situations lend themselves to print.  High quality photography printed on glossy stock gives a much different impression than a website.  Direct mail also has one component that no online media can match: feel.  Holding a quality printed piece in your hands delivers a visceral impression of excellence before a word is read.

Couple that with overstuffed email boxes, crowded social media channels that have become increasingly harder to have your message heard and direct mail makes sense again.

Now this isn’t to say that all you need to do is design and mail a great piece and the world beats a path to your door.

A few years ago, I received a fairly large box at my office.  It was a piece from a marketing agency that featured a real, red boxing glove (just the right one) with the agency’s branding expertly pasted over the “Everlast” branding.  To the right there was an impressive, bound capabilities document titled “Fighting it Out With Your Competition.”  The box was custom designed, including inserts, to hold these two items.

I was so impressed with the piece that it sat on a chair in my office for several weeks and I literally showed it to everyone who visited me.  I was impressed with the impact.  This was a piece that would not go unopened or ignored.  I assumed there would be a follow up and call and sure enough a couple days later the call came.  I enthusiastically told the account exec at the other end of the phone how much I liked the piece.  I started firing questions at him:  What was the delivered cost? ($35) How has the response been? (Fantastic)  Did you develop it yourselves? (Of course!)

A couple minutes into this I realized I had totally thrown the caller off his game and I was in control of the call.  I used that “power” to bring the conversation to a close without the caller ever even asking me for a meeting or whatever his goal was.  I ended it by thanking him and wishing him luck, then hanging up.  I don’t think he knew what hit him.  I got off the call and thought, wow, the most impressive direct mail piece bought them nothing because they fumbled the ball on follow up.  I never heard from them again!

The point?  Direct mail still works in B2B.  But we must still cover the basics, the fundamentals, the follow up.  As the volume of direct mail declines, the remaining pieces have less competition, at least in the physical inbox.

Give it a try.  Consider the advantages of direct mail for your product and execute.  You’ll be surprised.

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/

Follow his updates on Twitter @lundbohm