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The Importance of Intelligent Data in The Customer Journey

Whether an organization engages in B2B or B2C marketing, uses content marketing, channel marketing, direct marketing or brand marketing—intelligent marketing data is the key to success. We believe a sound data strategy is the foundation of all successful marketing campaigns and BI reporting. To achieve a sound strategy, marketing data must be:

  • Timely, accurate and linked across channels
  • Complete with all behavioral, firmographic and intent data necessary to make informed decisions
  • Accessible to marketers

With the rise of Account-Based Marketing (ABM), we see a technique that requires fully-integrated sales and marketing data that is accurate and fresh to be effective. Since the sales team will need to market to the whole account, they need an accurate profile for each individual within the account. The ideal buyer will likely vary between accounts, so knowing who the stakeholders and decision-makers are within each organization becomes a necessity.

The following provides some quick hitting tips for making the most of data for any marketing purpose.

Data Enhancement

Creating hyper-targeted customer or prospect campaigns are the foundation for building improved segmentation, which supports better analytics.   When dealing with B2B companies, some important attributes to use for segmentation are:

  • Firmographic data—static and readily available—includes information like annual revenue, employee count, growth rate, industry code and decision maker title.
  • Current environmental information about the prospect company—including the technology infrastructure or trigger events like an executive change.
  • Behavioral data—consisting of website downloads, responses to emails or trade show attendance.

Once data points have been appended and hypotheses defined, group “like” firms into cells sharing common characteristics. These segments can then be tested with identical lead generation initiatives to identify the high-value prospects—those more likely to close at higher deal values.

Use One System of Record

Modern relational systems let you create multiple databases on the same server, each tuned for a specific marketing function. Thus, one database might support business intelligence reports, another can be linked to an online consumer preference center, while a third is used for email blasts. Multiple servers can be synchronized for large, active installations to allow functions to be load balanced across different machines.

The key to staying on top of this organized chaos is to make sure there’s only one system of record (SOR): the good old marketing database that we started with. All feeds to the marketing platform need to be applied first to the SOR, which then gets propagated and transformed as needed to update the dependent databases. To maintain data integrity, a well-designed marketing platform distributes data in a top-down, hierarchical manner. Therefore, certain components of the marketing platform work in a bi-directional fashion, both receiving data from the SOR and passing data back to it. An example of a bi-directional component is the preference center, where new consumers added to the SOR need to be passed down to the preference center, and consumer opt-outs within the preference center must be passed back to the SOR.

Ensure Data is Accessible

Many marketers struggle with inefficient warehouse storage and non-integrated systems for managing their customer data. It is critical for customer data to be timely, accessible, and rich with demographic, behavioral, and contact information in order for the data to be useful to marketers. The data must be actionable because it is lush with customer insight and tuned for optimal campaign use.

Even if your customer data is accessible, how easy is it for you to parse through the volumes of information available to find the right audience? More than half of email marketers fail to perform any audience segmentation and targeting when they market. The approach you take towards audience segmentation and selection will go a long way towards determining your spot on the pathway to program optimization. For example, do you saturate your geographic audience with direct mail, or are you able to target the consumers most likely to respond to direct mail? A well-managed marketing database allows marketers to easily keep track of the number of contacts made to each individual in their database to prevent fatigue and reduce opt-out rates.

In conclusion: accessible, intelligent marketing data is a necessity to successfully nurture prospects through the customer journey—no matter what type of marketing your organization implements. Taking those steps to ensure your marketing data is actionable will be beneficial now and well into the future.


Jeff Barela
Senior Vice President
Dovetail, a MeritDirect Company


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