Why bad data can kill your marketing efforts

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According to BtoB's “Outlook 2012” report, 74.0% of b2b marketers will increase their online marketing budgets this year. The report was based on an online survey of 343 b2b marketers and found that the top areas of online marketing spending this year will be: website development (cited by 67.6% of marketers), email (67.5%), social media (64.3%), search (54.8%), video (50.5%) and webcasts/virtual events (45.6%).

It's not surprising to see email listed as No. 2 on the priority list in terms of marketing spend. It's easy, right? Build a database of contacts of current customers and prospects and market the hell out of them. If marketers don't get the response they want, many turn to third-party content syndication and campaigns to drive marketing leads and dump all that data back into their database. Or, they'll just buy a list from a vendor. After all, at the end of the day, it's about how many hand raisers you were able to bait that counts, right? Wrong.

Great marketing starts and ends with good, quality data. If you have bad data after more bad data, you could kill your marketing efforts. But if you have good data, then you have a better chance of capturing quality leads that will ultimately save time and costs—even after you turn those leads over to your sales force or pre-sales team.

Understand Your Target Audience

Ask these questions before you look through your data:

  • What is your target market?
  • Identify your ideal company profile—such as size, market and revenue.
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are the target roles, from users to decision makers? Be specific. For example, CEO, CIO, CFO, VP of IT, etc.

By understanding who you are targeting, from company to users and decision makers, you can make smarter business decisions and design targeted marketing campaigns. Now you can pull your entire database and see if your data aligns with who and what you are trying to target. If the data is misaligned, then you have some homework to do.

Segmentation, Segmentation, Segmentation

The one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns and programs will just not do, especially when your customers want more personalized messages that hit at the heart of their business pain point. To get there, you have to segment your data. Here is how:

  • Segment by industry/market
  • Segment by size of the company
  • Segment by types of solutions relevant to the industry
  • Last but not least, segment by roles—separate the users from the decision makers


Through segmentation, you can visualize how your marketing campaigns and messages will vary and how to structure those campaigns.

Identify Their Pain Points

Marketers have a tendency to—and I'll use a favorite phrase that my boss Beth Elkin (@BethElkin) uses—“spray and pray” by sending out generic email blasts and hoping someone raises their hand. Personally, I receive dozens of emails a day, and I delete 99% of them. The only time I will open an email is when the message speaks directly to me and my pain points. I can appreciate the marketers who spend the time to get to know me and my challenges and then provide a solution that could help alleviate some of those obstacles.

Good data not only means understanding all the things I mentioned above; it's also about understanding what the pain points are because each job title in the buying process has different priorities and seeks different information to make smarter buying decisions. 

This starts with surveying your customer base and prospects about their business challenges; how they're addressing those challenges; business priorities; action plans to buy; budget; decision makers, etc. Imagine what you could find out about the state of play. Based on what you find, you can develop more targeted marketing campaigns and nurture campaigns with specific messages that will resonate with your audience. But it always starts with good, quality data.

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