Big data is in the limelight, and companies of all types are recognizing the value of collecting a variety of high-quality data sets. Prospect data, in particular, is having its day in the sun, and for good reason: If you know email is the best way to reach out to your ideal prospects and that they respond more often in the evenings, you won't call them first thing in the morning.
Prospect data has enormous potential, and companies continue to invest energy and resources into gathering data on their prospects. It's a good practice, but it's critical to note that not all data sets are created equal.
Many B2B prospect databases contain incorrect data. In fact, research from Integrate suggests that “many” might be more than 40 percent. Despite the difficulties behind keeping data quality consistently high, 80 percent of marketers agree that it’s critical to both the marketing and sales teams, according to a report by Dun & Bradstreet.
A database of high-quality prospects will help your business focus on the core service you offer by delivering qualified leads who need your service and by lowering your acquisition. If CFOs are the main focus of your outreach, purchasing a list of Fortune 500 CFOs from a respectable vendor is just the first step. You need to manage your data correctly on the front end to ensure it's usable in the future.
Keeping Your Data Sparkling Clean
Prospect data isn’t high-octane rocket fuel – it’s more like crude oil. The degree of impact it has on your company’s success is largely determined by how much refining you perform on the front end, in terms of segmenting and quality-checking. If you build an effective lead-generation “engine” and then put in a low-grade fuel, you won't reach your goals. Poor data can actually harm your process by increasing unsubscribe rates, damaging domains or generating angry prospects, depending on your methods of outreach.
Verify the key fields you use to plan your outreach, and make sure these prospects are in the right industries and belong to the right-sized companies. Early targeting errors will throw off your data and make it harder to rely on testing and analytics.
And don't forget the fields tied to variable tags. If you’re leveraging automation, content with variable tags will let you speak personally to each of your prospects in a scalable manner. People know that this is a practice and take issue with it only when it doesn’t work. For example, when my name contains an underscore, like Mr._TJ_Macke, it is painfully obvious that the sender didn’t take the time or care to create a personal touch.
3 Steps to Successful Data Management
It's clear that verifying data fields and variable tags are the first steps to getting high-quality data. But how can companies develop data management on the front end? Fortunately, getting rid of bad lead data doesn't have to be painful if you implement these three simple steps:
1. Know what you need.
Enough data is available that you could send targeted outreach to HR directors in Tampa whose goldfish once belonged to CEOs of the top 10 fintech firms, if you wanted to. But you probably don't need that. Determine the kind of data that will be most impactful for your outreach campaign by pinpointing your target audience and its members' needs. Identifying who your targets are and what you need to say to them will help you pinpoint the questions your data needs to answer.
After you've done that, spend your time finding the best source of that information. It's OK to leverage several sources that specialize in different data segments, so long as you have a rock-solid plan to synchronize that data.
2. Spot-check what matters.
After you’ve purchased your data, you need to confirm the quality and the content. Identify the key fields that need to be correct, then have a person or program verify that the information is correct and that it's in a usable format. After verifying the key fields, check what's called "contingent data," or any information that will result in a pass/fail outcome of your outreach. Think email addresses or dial connections.
Having the best content for the perfect prospect at the exact moment they need it is great, but you have to deliver it for it to work. Find a service that will verify your message is deliverable in whatever form you’re sending it.
3. Categorize carefully.
You're probably working ahead by a few weeks or months, so categorizing and storing your data intentionally is critical. If you do all the work to gather and verify data, and then send content written for HR directors to your CFO list, you've wasted your time. Name and store your prospect data efficiently so that you can leverage it correctly.
As you continue to prospect and begin to dial in your approach, keep track of what you’ve purchased. It’s maddening how much money companies spend on data they already own. Make the most of your limited resources by not paying for duplicate records.
Data is powerful, but to reach its potential, the data has to be accurate, and you have to use it under the right circumstances. Spend some time cleaning up, formatting and verifying the accuracy of your data on the front end, and you'll see huge dividends in lead generation down the road.