If yours isn’t yet, it will be, and perhaps soon. This is where the world is headed. Today, many B2B folks still believe most interesting customer and prospect data lives in some proprietary database, starting with their own. Sure they’ll acknowledge more and more useful data is out there, in the web, in places like LinkedIn or on Company Websites. And so they’re dutifully “enriching” their information with these new cool sources of data. But you know what, that’s yesterday’s strategy. And it no longer works! Not well anyway. Poor models and atrophying data doom this approach.
Critical errors exist in up to 25% of the customer and prospect data in a typical organization’s B2B marketing database, according to SiriusDecisions. With lead databases doubling every 12 to 18 months, decaying data just snowballs. What’s more, 30% of B2B companies have no strategy to fix these serious errors, according to Demand Gen Report. But what counts as “a strategy” can still fall short. Per Demand Gen, asking Sales to update records was cited as the most popular plan among organizations claiming to have a strategy in place. Some plan!
If we want to better target those companies and people who will be most interested in our solution then we must change our approach. We must turn this proprietary database model on its head. This new core “database” should be founded on the vast source of information out in the social web. This may sound like nuance, but it’s a distinct way to feed your business, sourcing leads from your business’s unique lead space. By its nature, the publicly available data on most of us is more accurate, more up to date, and more interesting. And it’s essential to a “virtual database.” Sure, we still need the proprietary information like contract dates and purchased product, but that’s no longer the core data. Stop acting like it is!
This good news is you can progress in this direction, but you must change your perspective. First, you must be able to aggregate many data sources and ensure you have a way to reconcile differences. This is about more than having an instance of Salesforce.com or buying a license to an Oracle database. Next you need to ensure you have a way to sort, score, and rank this massive amount of data. For marketers and sales people this involves identifying the key traits of your ideal prospect. So you can Predict who to connect with next. You’ll also need to ensure this “virtual database” is integrated into your key sales and marketing systems like CRM and Marketing Automation. You’ll want to ensure there’s an effective feedback mechanism to drive iterative improvement. And you’ll want a way to measure results.
Sure, marketing databases are dying. But there’s a new and better way. Take that first step.