Microsegmenting to uncover highly qualified b-to-b prospects

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Marketers that need to reach America's fastest-growing industries are finding that the tried-and-true methods of segmentation used for decades don't always deliver. Instead, marketers are targeting prospects using creative microsegmenting techniques to search across multiple fields of a comprehensive business information database and pinpointing potential buyers on specific attributes.

A limitation of traditional segmenting techniques—searching, for example, by industry codes, company type or location—is that it relies on only a single attribute in a business information provider's database. This can limit your results. More and more, marketers are turning to keyword searches that search across multiple parts of each individual's or company's record.

This allows you to narrow your search to a very specific attribute yet widen the search by querying multiple fields, including company name, personal background and work history. It also can uncover boilerplate text in the company's news releases, text on the company's About Us Web page and even news articles that mention the company.

Imagine you're a b-to-b company selling a product that would be especially valuable to companies involved in renewable energy. A search on just the company name field would, of course, overlook many potential prospects that don't have “renewable energy” in their names.

A keyword search on the string “renewable energy” across all database fields, however, can create a list of, for example, companies with that phrase in their names or those with executives on boards of national renewable energy organizations.

You might also limit results by geography (U.S. states or locations within a given radius of specific ZIP codes), annual revenue, number of employees, etc.

Let's take it one step further. Using a combination of search criteria, you can create targeted lists of b-to-b buyers by job title, specific experience (e.g., finance professionals who have IPO experience), board affiliations and even colleges attended and personal interests, like sailing or golfing.

Once you've built the perfect list, some data services offer alerting features to let you know when the information of a prospect you're tracking is updated or when a new business buyer that meets your criteria is added. If you already have a list of prospects, you might try data-append services, to fill in the blanks with additional details that can then be used for microsegmenting.

I suggest that you vet your microsegmented lists. Provide your criteria to a data vendor and ask it to generate an immediate customized snapshot to get a valid representation of the data. Then, put the data to the test to determine its accuracy.

Once you buy a list, keep in mind that it can go stale within a few days. Make sure to ask for updates with your b-to-b vendor so that you will have a fresh version of your list for each of your multiple touches.

The days of shotgun marketing are long gone. Fortunately, powerful microsegmenting tools and value-added data services can help savvy marketers create targeted, successful, revenue-generating sales and marketing programs.

Sam Zales is president of business information provider ZoomInfo. He can be reached at

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