As a kid growing up in the 80s, I was obsessed with collecting things: rocks, action figures, books, comics, coins, baseball cards, video games and a panoply of other stuff ranging from serious to absurd. One fall, I even spent a week collecting grocery bags full of acorns, just because I thought acorns were cool. To this day, the junk drawers of my parents’ house are overflowing with the artifacts of my acquisitive childhood.
What I realized as I grew up is that not all these collections were of equal value. For example, the acorns quickly rotted and infested my closet with tiny bugs. Other things, like the rocks, turned out to have hidden beauty: my dad and I got a rock tumbler and spent weeks polishing them into shiny gems, which I still keep in a bowl on my coffee table. The most valuable things were those that forged stronger bonds with friends and family.
In today’s world of limitless data, marketers find themselves in a similar quandary. There is a strong temptation to collect all types of data simply because it’s cool or available. It’s no wonder that 82% of CMO’s feel unprepared to deal with the explosion of data. As data-driven marketing matures, it’s time for us to step back and ask ourselves what data is truly valuable for growing relationships. It’s less about amassing data in our CRMs, DMPs, and marketing automation platforms, and more about inspiring connections with our customers.
Marketers need to consider the possibility that they already possess much of the data they need. Like polishing rough stones, the focus needs to be on refining and putting that data to use to drive growth. With that in mind, here are five types of data that, while often overlooked and underused, have the potential to transform your marketing efforts:
1. Identity data – All the data you collect is useless without a way to tie it all together. Building omni-channel relationships requires data to be consistent and available across all channels. This includes capturing the identity of anonymous web visitors for personalization and linking together CRM and marketing automation data for alignment with sales.
While basic identity data isn’t sexy, it’s critical to breaking down data silos and building a consistent customer experience. For example, two inquiries from the same prospect could create duplicate records in your CRM that prompt follow up calls from two different sales reps. This type of negative experience can be avoided by using identity data to build a single view of customers across channels.
2. Connection data – Have you considered how your customer and prospect records are connected through legal, social and organizational relationships? While marketers often treat contacts as isolated targets, the truth is that they are often deeply interrelated. For example, one prospect in your database may work for the subsidiary of one of your customers. Another two contacts may work for the same VP, or they may be connected through social networks and share articles with each other (shockingly, only 55% of marketers use insights from social data). Finding these missing links between people and business entities is crucial to how you segment, route and communicate with your potential buyers.
3. Signal data – From the background noise of clicks, opens and bounces, successful marketers are using data analysis to extract signals about what their customers really like and don’t like. This signal-based preference data can be extremely powerful, especially when married with traditional firmographic and demographic profile data.
For example, signal data mapped to firmographic data can actually tell you that your target audience (let’s say marketers at high growth tech companies) are not engaging with your nurture programs, while a persona of less focus (let’s say marketers at b2c retail companies) are much more engaged. Perhaps your lead gen efforts are focusing on the wrong industry? Read more about signal data.
4. Onboarding data – Closely tracking and collecting data from your customer onboarding process can have a huge effect on loyalty and attrition. For example, capturing customer business goals as they come onboard can help you build segments and, then, content that aligns closely with customer needs. Collecting implementation requirements can help keep customers happy and on track with their experience. Read more about onboarding data.
5. Fiscal calendar data – Fiscal years have a huge impact on buying cycles. Companies typically plan and set budgets near the beginning of their fiscal year and often spend surplus budget near the end.
Aligning your messaging and sales outreach with these cycles is critical to successful timing. For example, if you are selling advertising and reach a marketing director as they are trying to spend a budget surplus, you stand a much greater chance of success.
This list provides a starting point for marketers to discover their own hidden gems. The data that is really important for you depends on the unique nature of your business and your customers. What matters is that marketers start asking the right questions about how they collect and use data to forge better relationships. Trying to collect everything won’t lead to success. Polishing and mining a limited set of data can help you uncover what’s really valuable in your data. When it comes to data collection, the trick is in telling the rocks from the acorns.
To get started thinking about your own gems in your data, download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Data Management.
Author's Bio: Lucas Rotondo is Senior Director of Marketing at Dun & Bradstreet. Lucas is responsible for global marketing of Dun & Bradstreet’s Sales & Marketing Solutions and has 10 years experience in the B2B data industry. When not researching marketing trends and developing strategies, Lucas enjoys playing guitar and catching up on technology news.