When a mission-critical deal is on the line, B2B sales can be more like negotiating a strategic partnership (or romantic relationship) than merely persuading someone to buy a product. Today, when both the stakes and the competition couldn’t be higher, a knowledgeable and personalized approach is the key to moving leads down the funnel. Data is the fuel that drives the B2B customer journey, but first-party data alone isn’t enough to provide the insights you’ll need to stand out from the competition.
Having access to the same volunteered data your competitors have, you don’t have much of an advantage over them. To get better and deeper data, you can use data enrichment.
Data enrichment is a process that can turn the information you have into a complete profile that accurately maps the needs of your leads.
What is Data Enrichment?
Customer data can originate from a number of sources. It can be obtained directly from leads themselves—for example, by having them fill out a form in order to download a white paper or request a product demo or requesting a meeting with a salesperson. It can be obtained from data tracking software that tracks user engagement on your own properties (such as Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Appsflyer, etc.). In addition, there is something called third-party data.
Third-party data is data provided on website visitors, customers, prospects that is derived from external interactions these users made with digital and offline properties that are not our own. For example, some third-party data enrichment platforms, like Oktopost’s People Database :), will cross-reference Linkedin data with web tracking data to “enrich” user data and better understand our website traffic.
In other words, third-party data can be leveraged to make our first-party data more robust, which is to say its usefulness in a B2B sales approach. A couple of common uses are:
- Data cleansing refers to removing inaccurate, outdated, and corrupt entries from customer data sets.
- Data appending involves updating incomplete or obsolete records with correct, up-to-date information.
Data enrichment describes a broader approach that may involve both cleansing and appending existing data sets, as well as connecting it with external data from social media, contact lists, and other third party sources. Anything that refines and improves the quality of customer data by filling in gaps and correcting “bad” information can be considered data enrichment.
Missing, incomplete, and outdated records are the primary detractors to customer data quality. Data enrichment is the solution smart companies are employing in order to correct these issues and confidently make data-driven sales and marketing decisions. United States businesses also have spent more than $19 billion on digital data assets in 2018, yet many marketers still rely on aggregated demographic and behavioral data. Companies that make effective use of enriched data have the option to personalize the funnel to the level of the individual lead.
Why Do B2B Marketers Need to Enrich Their Data?
Data enrichment has a wide range of potential applications, but there are several challenges specific to B2B marketing that data enrichment can potentially solve.
- Advanced Segmentation
Segmenting your audience can give you a much higher return on your marketing dollars by breaking them down into smaller interest groups. This can reveal new marketing opportunities and provide tremendous growth potential. Enriched data can vastly expand the range of customers and segmentation categories you have to work with.
For example, let’s say you wanted to push marketing content to all the members of a specific trade organization. However, your lead capturing forms and landing pages might lack this particular field.. In this case, you can apply social data enrichment to retrieve this information from LinkedIn and allow you to include those leads in this segment. This is preferable to adding extra fields to forms—fewer required fields means more form submissions, and data enrichment can be used to fill in the gaps in data.
- Advanced Lead Scoring
Evaluating and scoring leads can help your sales team set effective priorities. That said, when lead scoring becomes more art than science it’s debatable whether it’s actually worth the time and resources. This becomes much more challenging when you have little information to go on; in-depth customer profiles can be reliably scored but scoring incomplete profiles can be guesswork at best.
Enriched data can “move” a customer profile from the “incomplete” to the “in-depth” column, allowing it to be given a meaningful and accurate score. Working together, your sales and marketing teams can define the data points most relevant for lead scoring, pointing to the areas where you should be focusing on enriching your lead data.
Customers know their data is out there. While they may have mixed feelings about seeing it used for marketing purposes, there’s an expectation that a company that really wants their business will do their homework and make thoughtful, personalized overtures. In B2B, it’s not just a matter of meeting expectations. Knowing how to gain the attention of the decision makers you’re trying to convert, and demonstrating that you already understand their pain points and priorities, can make or break a deal.
Ambitious marketers can use data enrichment to take personalization even further. Using machine learning techniques on enriched customer data enables marketers to create bespoke messages and experiences very early on in the sales process.
- Data Compliance
Less glamorous than the previous use cases, but equally if not more important, is the application of data enrichment processes to ensure compliance with data privacy regulations. Laws like the European Union’s GDPR have imposed limits on what types of customer data can be stored, and for how long. If you don’t have mechanisms in place to scrub your databases and bring your records into compliance, your only options are to discard potentially valuable data or risk subjecting yourself to fines and penalties.
Data enrichment processes can be set up to optimize for compliance with GDPR, do-not-call lists and any other regulatory requirements. This ensures that your data is not only accurate and complete but also legal. Even if regulations change in the future, ongoing enrichment can preserve the utility of the data.
Data Enrichment, Step by Step
Since the details that make up a customer profile are subject to change over time, any effective process will necessarily involve ongoing, iterative enrichment operations. So where should you start?
1. Define Your Needs
Extraneous data can introduce distractions and confusion, so it’s counterproductive to enrich existing data with additional information that isn’t necessary for your purposes. Before enriching your data, make sure you’re clear on what you need and what you’re going to use it for.
2. Evaluate Your Data Set
You must assess the quality, completeness, and accuracy of your existing data before you embark on an enrichment process. Figure out where the gaps in your records are so that you don’t waste time sorting through redundant, unneeded data.
3. Segment the Audiences to Enrich
Enrichment should always serve segmentation—and vice versa. The more you can restrict and “tighten” your data sets to focus on specific target segments, the more ROI you’ll realize on your data enrichment activities.
- Rinse and Repeat—Data Ages Fast!
In today’s economy, people move, change employers, transfer between departments, and even switch entire industries. Actionable data can be turned completely obsolete in a matter of days and usually without warning. Data enrichment isn’t a single “treatment” or an endpoint to be reached. It is a process that persists through the lifespan of the data, reviewing, refreshing and updating as necessary.
Data Enrichment for Account Based Marketing
Successful account-based marketing in B2B sales demands an informed, data-driven approach that targets the most relevant concerns of the individuals making purchasing decisions. The way to ensure that you have the most complete, up-to-date profiles for your leads and clients is to engage in an ongoing process of data enrichment.
A comprehensive social media marketing strategy can benefit greatly from data enrichment. By gathering profile data and inferring connections between data points and know identities, you can get to know your prospect buyers and their needs much better than before.
Guiding leads down the B2B sales funnel can be a lengthy and rocky journey, but accurate and reliable customer data can always help point you in the right direction.