The marketing leaders are constantly being challenged by their fellow executives and CEOs to direct and participate in an increasingly broad set of initiatives across the entire company.

All of these are mostly oriented on the same goal: drive growth for the organization in a predictable, profitable, repeatable way. And to do so, marketing departments are constantly in new techniques and technologies to deliver results and find leverage.

Everything in this blog post is about and for you- the savvy B2B marketer. There’s quite a lot going on around data quality- particularly as data plays a critical and larger role in a broad range of marketing technologies and activities. We’ve identified three major trends in data driven marketing this year. And your ability to effectively harness the power of these major data trends could be dramatically increased with a consistent focus on data quality:

  1. Online advertising

Online advertising is growing more programmatic, and automated ad buying is quickly emerging as a popular B2B practice. 54% of B2B marketers are currently buying advertising programmatically and 65% plans to increase this spends in the next year.

  1. Marketing technology

Marketing technology is changing the way we manage and execute our marketing budgets on our programs, yet 41% of the B2B marketers surveyed mentioned inconsistent data as the top obstacle for maximizing their ROI.

  1. Account based marketing

Account based marketing (ABM) practices are increasingly being utilized to find the buying centers, companies, and decision makers you want to build a relationship with, yet around 75% of our customer files we processed lacked data on revenue, industry, and employees.

Instead of marketing metrics, the marketing function is increasingly being measured on business outcomes. This requires a focus on building meaningful pipeline, driving opportunity creation, and accelerating buyers through their journey.

Shining a light on data quality

Despite the critical role that data plays in the current marketing world and the proclaimed high levels of maturity regarding the management of data quality, our research revealed that the true quality of marketing and sales data continues to be a barrier for achieving growth. It seems that we usually pay lip service to the importance of good data, but at the same time fail to clean it up. The following are what we found:

Average score by data quality indicators:

  • Email Deliverability- 3.23 average score
  • Record Duplication- 4.18 average score
  • Record Completeness- 2.56 average score
  • Phone Connectability- 2.39 average score

Growth strategies need a foundation built on quality data

To implement and effectively engage these new capabilities and strategies, you need to ground them with a foundation built on good data. Prioritizing a strategy for data to quickly improve the quality of marketing and sales data will enable you to take full benefit of these investments while distancing yourself from the competition.

Sadly, we’ve found that quite often, we let data quality fall down the priorities list, rather than building a strategic foundation than choosing to focus on tactical execution. And here’s why we think this:

There are always going to be laggards and leaders in business. And when it comes down to capturing the value of marketing technology and driving growth, those with good data are leading. Those who don’t have good data are lagging.

Marketing technology adoption continues to accelerate

Right now, marketing technologies are exploding. And it’s changing the way we invest, prioritize, and execute our marketing budgets.

B2B marketers must deal with a dramatic increase in the variety, volume, and velocity of data coming at them from several different channels. This data tsunami makes achieving our goals both more problematic and more attainable at the same time.

For marketing program to produce positive results and deliver the return you expect from such a huge investment there has to be an ongoing commitment to data management. The availability of services and strategies that can be quickly deployed to address this “garbage out, garbage in” issue is much more affordable and approachable than ever. And those who fail to take action now run the risk of losing their ground to their competitors and failing to capture on new opportunities.

We asked!

What is your biggest obstacle for maximizing their ROI in marketing technology today?

41% mentioned inconsistent data across technologies as their biggest challenge.

Account based marketing is increasingly important to B2B marketers

B2B companies are turning to ABM practices to effectively identify the buying centers, companies, and decision makers with whom they want to build relationships.

This is not new to many sales teams- they’ve been practicing this tactic for a long time. However, marketers now have the automation and the sophistication available to them to wade in and start adopting this approach. Up to 17 people can now influence enterprise B2B purchases- according to IDG.

ABM is highly dependent upon strong demographic and firmographic data. It’s about understanding the segment, the market, and the decision-makers you need to influence; rather than just knowing the company you are targeting. Targeting specific companies and decision makers requires a synchronized, coordinated effort across several channels; and it needs accurate data to get it right.

We asked!

How do you utilize firmographic and demographic data to improve your success?

58% said they utilize data to model best customers and identify best audience segments.

ABM is about becoming an important factor in scoring inbound leads and is not just about your outbound marketing efforts. B2B marketers by using account based criteria as lead scoring factors can clearly see which content strategies and programs are attracting the right audience and pass leads from target companies to the sales team much faster.

We asked!

How do you score your leads?

39% said they score leads based on demographics (level, title) information.

Programmatic ad buying is gaining traction in the B2B space

B2B companies, whether focused on or casting wider net or specific accounts for larger audience acquisition, are turning to programmatic ad buying and digital channels to engage and nurture their target markets. And as usual, their incentive for taking advantage of this new tactic is to drive growth for the business- growth in customers, growth in revenue, and growth in brand awareness.

We asked!

What is the most important objective of your digital advertising strategy?

36% of respondents cited “increase lead generation” as their main goal.

While traditionally, B2B marketers have been more cautious in their adoption of this strategy. Actually, about 47% of the professionals surveyed on programmatic advertising claim to be are unsure of, not know what programmatic media buying is.

Although, this is rapidly changing as more professionals plan to buy programmatically over the next 6-12 months. Additionally, those that have already moved to programmatic are increasing the percentage of their budget spend in the following way.

  • 66% B2B marketers think that programmatic is as valuable for them as it is for B2C marketers.
  • 78% of B2B marketers will spend up to 50% of their budgets on programmatic next year.

The truth behind B2B marketing data

Given the three market trends we’ve found, one would easily think that fueling any of those tactics with quality data is a high priority.

Although, we see a serious disconnect- B2B marketers are investing in everything but the foundation. Good marketing begins with a great idea and you just can’t maximize success and outcomes without addressing your data issues.

Email Deliverability

Emails that are undeliverable can result in both soft and hard costs for a business: poor resource allocation, marketing spends, as damaged sender reputation and brand perception as well as missed campaign goals.

The issue

B2B marketers expect their marketing automation tools to be the engine that produces qualified leads and convert them into happy customers. Although, if the emails don’t get delivered, it doesn’t matter how relevant and engaging your content is- you just can’t converse with those you can’t reach. Apart from being ineffective, undeliverable emails can incur both soft and hard costs for a company: poor resource allocation, wasted marketing spends, damaged brand perception and sender reputation as well as missed campaign goals.

The current state of email deliverability

Overall, the email deliverability rates stayed flat year over year and still continues to introduce unnecessary risk into demand generation and marketing automation strategies. The average company database email deliverability rate is still low that optimal, with a health scale rating of 3.2. And if B2B marketers want to steadily reduce missed opportunities, increase program results and improve sender scores, they must invest the time to remediate this problem.

 Phone Connectability

  • Five million professionals on average changed jobs every month for the first six months of 2015.
  • 62% of the 694M+ records analyzed do not include a phone number.

The issue:

You can’t expect the sales team to be productive when marketing sends the leads without a phone number. It wastes their time and also increases the number of missed opportunities to build pipeline and increase revenues.

Requiring your sales teams to spend effort and time sourcing phone number of leads creates huge inefficiencies in the system and does even worse things for the alignment between your sales and marketing teams.

The current state of phone connectability

Phone connectability still continues its downward trend year-over-year- falling from a current Health Scale Rating of 2.7 to 2.4 — moving it deeper into the “unreliable” territory. Similar to last year, when 55% of the records analyzed fall below the “questionable” category, there are systemic issues at play, like progressive profiling programs that don’t prioritize phone number earlier enough, sales reps not inputting full contact information into CRM system, etc., that companies should be delving into in earnest.

Record Completeness

  • 85% of files lack company size by the employee.
  • 87% of files lack revenue information.
  • 77% of files lack industry information.

The issue

Incomplete data on your prospects and customers impedes accurate targeting and segmentation, sabotaging your account based marketing efforts, effective content personalization, and lead scoring.

The current state of record completeness

For most B2B companies, record completeness continues to be an area where they struggle, taking more than 10% dive in the average Health Scale Rating from 2.9 to 2.6, or unreliable.

Given this poor state of record completion, it’s no surprise that more than 59% of B2B marketers say that the top obstacle to their data driven marketing success is “improving data quality.”

Data Duplication

  • 51% of B2B marketers cite “integrating data across platforms” as a challenging obstacle.
  • 90% of files analyzed have less than 10% duplicates.

The issue:

The growing number of marketing technologies that are generating and consuming company and contact data, increasing acquisition and mergers as well as the expansion of digital marketing channels develops a situation where record duplication can proliferate. Record duplication poses huge risks customer goodwill, brand reputation, email response rates, and sender score. Apart from these, duplicate company record wreaks havoc on the insights and efficiency that can be generated from your supply chain, ERP and procurement processes.

The current state of duplicate data:

When 51% B2B marketers cite integrating data across platforms” as one of the most challenging obstacles to their data driven marketing success, we’d have expected there to be more duplicate records in the files we analyzed. Even with a small decrease year-over-year, duplicate records still remains a beacon of light in a marketer’s best practices areas, having an average health score rating of 4.2, or “functional,” down from 4.3 the previous year. So, we continue to believe that the growing ecosystem of data service providers for marketing automation technologies and wider adoption of those platforms are easing the management of duplicate records for B2B marketers.


In the current age of digital media and self-driven buyers, B2B marketers continue to face challenges with data limitations as they seek to engage with the right prospects and customers across a huge array of channels.

So, you need to activate good quality data to effectively identify key accounts and targets, reach them where they are, and deliver relevant content that accelerates their buyers’ journey.

The data that you use in your programs can easily break or make the success of each effort. Organizations that proactively maintain their database can realize 66% higher conversions to revenue compared to those that do not, according to SiriusDecisions. Companies will benefit heavily by simply establishing an ongoing, standardized approach for managing and processing data throughout its lifecycle.

The bottom line is that data is the fuel that runs your business. And if you do not address your data issues head-on, you are going to find yourself with countless missed opportunities and decreased ROI from your marketing technologies stack.

So, unleash the power of analytics and data to create lasting relationships with your prospects and customers and turn your investments into your growth assets.

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