Archive for the ‘segmentation’ tag
85 percent of us know that websites track their online shopping behavior, a new report from ecommerce optimization company Monetate says, and 75 percent of us want retailers to use our personal information to customize our shopping experiences.
That’s going back to the future, according to Monetate: going back to a time when all commerce was personal.
But there is a yin and a yang here.
While we may want personalized experiences, and we want websites to be smart — to know us, essentially, and act as an intelligent, solicitous person might — privacy is part of the picture. A good third of us don’t want our website activity tracked, and a quarter of us don’t want the websites we shop to personalize our experience at all.
Monetate has four tips for online retailers:
- Use marketing automation technology and big data to assist with personalization
- Target segments with relevant content based on what you know about them
- Don’t think of channels, think of customers first
- Be in it for the long haul, not the quick win
All the data, in visual form:
As an employee relations (or internal communication) professional, how do you specifically identify your stakeholders?
What approach and methods do you adopt and how do you implement them appropriately in order to communicate clearly?
A guest interview and conversation between
Toni Muzi Falconi and Rachel Miller
Recently Toni Muzi Falconi approached PR Conversations about some of his current examinations regarding alternative approaches to communicating with stakeholders. It was determined the most effective method to understand and communicate his research would be an interview format and conversation, conceived by internal communication specialist (and recent guest poster), Rachel Miller.
Rachel Miller (RM): Toni, I’m interested to learn more about what you are currently working on.
Toni Muzi Falconi (TMF): Rachel, I am evaluating possible alternative approaches for employee relations professionals to better understand and communicate more effectively with their primary stakeholders.
In this quest I am also hoping to identify a “generic” professional worldview that is adoptable/adaptable to an effective governance of relationships with other stakeholders, such as suppliers, investors, distributors, media, public policy decision makers, et al.
RM: This sounds quite interesting; I’m intrigued about what approaches you are exploring?
TMF: I’m examining how to separate stakeholders into as many groups as possible, using sense-making indicators (to find out more, I point to Karl Weick as a real asset).
The idea is to be able to ensure that content may be adapted to satisfy and attract expectations of (and dialogue from) specific groups.
The other areas I’ve been thinking about is how we could improve results? This means identifying and examining an ever-growing list of flexible tools and channels. And these must be selectively applied on the basis of different variables—which inevitably will change in time.
RM: What separations/groups would you expect to see?
TMF: Traditional separations, such as blue-collar and white-collar employees, managers, etc., are of course necessary.
But these separations don’t tend to be particularly useful if you are attempting to involve them on general culture-related issues, such as their motivation, participation and satisfaction in the workplace.
RM: Do you have a way to segment those individual groups?
TMF: Adopting a consolidated market segmentation approach and adapting it to that public is useful. However, too many adaptations are necessary not to justify at least looking for a different approach.
RM: What is your recommendation for a different approach?
TMF: The growing body of knowledge concerning the digital influencing issue is helpful. This is also because it confirms, for the most part, that long-existing public relations approaches to stakeholder identification can shed much light on internal, as well as external, publics.
Specific studies (and many applications) related to concepts such as “niches,” “tribes” or “clusters” are also there to help.
RM: So what is at the heart of your current and original research on stakeholder communication?
TMF: This has been my thought process—if you think about employees, they own the following profiles:
*territorial includes the history, culture, values and norms that relate to living in a specific territory rather than another
In parallel, organizations also own at least two profiles:
Once one recognizes ownership of several profiles, the natural thought progression is that likely it’s a lost cause to develop a “generic” approach to communication; instead, it’s more useful to spend more time focusing on “specific” (situational) ones.
RM: Does this mean because employees have more than one profile, they could therefore be in multiple segments?
TMF: Yes, in an abstract and theoretical operating “space,” a given employee populace of a given organization could be “divided” into at least the five “profiles” as listed above.
Each of which, obviously, intersects with each other , too. Then, according to the specific objective that the employee relations professional wishes to achieve, the related contents and available tools and channels may be differently mixed and deployed in each situation.
RM: That’s an interesting idea, so segmenting your communication based on which profile they come under?
TMF: Yes. This is not—as some might think—an “easy way out,” as it would imply the use of professional skills and competencies that are not normally in the communication practitioner’s domain. Areas (clusters) that would need to be mapped and listened to include:
- dominant organizational culture (with its subcultures and anti-cultures); and
- sectorial or industry cultures
- active citizenship; and
- media characteristics
of a given territory.
It would also mean the mapping and understanding of personal and professional profiles and creating content related to the specific objective one is trying to achieve.
That would then need to be adapted to each one of those clusters, plus selecting the more appropriate tools and channels to do this—it’s one hell of a task!
Unless, of course, this “generic situational approach” (an oxymoron?) becomes the basic method adopted for each program.
RM: How do you see this working in practice for employee relations professionals?
TMF: I am not at all sure of where I am going with this as it remains in the exploratory stage. That’s why I would really welcome comments, suggestions, advice from you, Rachel, as well as from other readers of PR Conversations.
Having said this, I imagine that—faced with one clear and specific change management project (to take a common example)—the employee communicator is well versed with the organization’s sector and corporate cultures and focuses on these mission and values. That is, inasmuch as they impact on the specific objective being pursued.
The communicator then identifies the employee populace involved in the specific objective (the universe, in this case) and listens to their objective-related opinions and expectations, integrating these findings into the personal, professional and territorial profiles.
This knowledge, in turn, creates an overall communicative infrastructure that allows a flexible adaptation of multiple contents releasable through an ever-growing list of tools and channels selected on the basis of priority indicators. For example, interactivity, flexibility, time impact, credibility, reach and so on.
RM: Thank you for the invitation for my input, Toni.
It’s certainly true that communicators are well versed in segmenting communication in order to achieve organizational objectives.
My take on your suggested approach is that there would be many benefits to sub-dividing employees and tailoring communication with them, based on the variables you’ve previously mentioned.
However, my concern would be how to accurately categorize employees. And maybe even more importantly, “keep track” of any changes in sector, geography, etc.
If it added a huge amount of consideration and analytical challenges for communication professionals, I wonder how many would have the inclination or time? Inclination, I think, would certainly be there as any good communication practitioner worth her or his salt wants the very best for employees when it comes to creating effective conversations and business communication, but perhaps resource-wise (time or money) less so.
It’s certainly food for thought.
And as someone who has studied Weick’s sense-making ideas, it appeals to me. Weick’s notion of sense-making—literally making sense of what we see and hear—has a role to play here. For example, frame of reference communications. In this example, employees are presented with information in a manner that they recognize (framework) that makes sense based on their understanding (e.g., cues), and leads to effective communication (e.g., a connection).
Weick’s idea is that once people begin to act they generate outcomes in some context, and this helps them discover what is occurring, what needs to be explained and what should be done next. In short, a good story. Sense-making is about plausibility, coherence and reasonableness. It’s well known that employees will only “take things in” if they have a cue/receptor.
Taking this thinking a step further, I think the profiles you’ve mentioned have a role to play here and I can see this segmentation working.
TMF: Clearly my suggested approach implies for the employee communicator to invest more thought and time in preparing a program before implementing it. It is natural that a professional be inclined to apply methods that have always been used rather than opt for a different path.
However, rationality would suggest that a more “reflective” approach is needed today—because employee communication has become so relevant.
Besides, the recent (2010) collective global effort by the Global Alliance to define the need for an essential alignment of internal and external communication of an organization (I am referring to the Stockholm Accords) also indicates:
For the communicative organization, internal communication is vital in the development and sustenance of the organization, fostering trust, commitment, purpose and shared goals among all internal stakeholders including all employee tiers, contractors, consultants, suppliers, volunteers and others required to fulfill the organization’s purpose.
And this certainly mandates a more sophisticated and aware approach.
RM: But how do you know when the groups are satisfied?
What measurement would need to be put in place?
TMF: The ultimate objective, in my view, is not to satisfy the (however) identified groups, but to achieve the organization’s objectives.
From this premise, the employee communicator assumes that reducing frustrations and resistance in the workforce and stimulating ideas, motivation and participation, improves the chances of achieving the specified objective. The evaluation methodology I suggest is that, once the universe and the specific groups are identified (see former question), the quality of existing relationships and contents be pre-tested, with samples from each group. The quality testing would be on the basis of:
- power balance or control mutuality
for the relationship.
As well as:
- credibility of source
- credibility of content; and
- familiarity of content
for the communication quality.
Such a pre-test allows one to set and share with top management specific relationship and communication objectives to be achieved in a given timeframe with given resources.
A post-test, following the implementation of the program, will give you a good idea of where you went wrong in the process.
Also, this method allows the communicator to negotiate in advance of the actual implementation; for example, a well-deserved bonus if and when the results exceed the negotiated objectives.
I have been adopting this (constantly updated and flexible) methodology for many PR projects over the last 20 years and have always been gratified.
RM: Toni, thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I quite like the idea of a pre- and post-test measurement. From reading back on our conversation about your new area of study, what stands out to me is that people working within employee communication need to be flexible, and adapt and evolve the way they work in order to meet the ever-changing needs of both their employees and employers’ objectives. I wonder what other readers think?
Do let Toni know your views in the comments section.
* * *
Rachel Miller is an internal communication and social media strategist based in London. She began her career as a journalist and has worked in internal communication (IC), both in-house and agency side, for global companies across the financial, automotive, healthcare and railway sectors.
She regularly speaks, writes and teaches internal communication and social media. Rachel (under her maiden name, Allen) was named in PR Week UK’s Top 29 under 29 professional communicators. She contributed a chapter to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ best-selling book Share This: The social media handbook for PR Professionals (Wiley). The follow-up Share This Too (Wiley, due out summer 2013), also features a chapter by Rachel. She writes a monthly column on using social media for internal communication on Windmill Networking and in 2012 launched The IC Crowd. Read her blog and find Rachel on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Storify and Google+.
* * *
Toni Muzi Falconi is senior counsel of Methodos in Milano, an Italian management consultancy specializing in performance, change and integrated management practices. His primary residence is in Rome, where he teaches public relations at the Vatican’s LUMSA University. Twice a year he also resides in New York City, where he teaches Global Relations and Intercultural Communication as well as Public Affairs courses in NYU’s Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communication.
A past president of Ferpi (the Italian PR association), founding chair of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA), he developed Toni’s Blog in 2005, which was then transformed into PR Conversations in 2007. Check out the GA’s Stockholm Accords HUB blog (where Toni was the principal contributor), follow him on Twitter or contact him by email.
“Wow, your Facebook News Feed is filled with pictures of your friends’ kids!” said my 26-year-old brother-in-law after glimpsing my phone’s Facebook News Feed.
I never thought of my Facebook News Feed as a mecca for pictures of my friends’ kids. To me, it’s a blur of status updates from family, friends, work peers, and more distant industry colleagues.
Nonetheless, the contrast observed by my brother-in-law is a good example of how our opt-in social connections and social network algorithms (like Facebook’s EdgeRank) give the sense of mass-shared experiences when, in fact, they are more personalized and niche. While everyone is on Facebook, what you see and experience is likely very different from what others see and experience. Similarly, search engines (Google and Bing included) are suggesting personalized results based on your social connections.
The flipside of this trend is that social networks are propagating hyper-niche segments for marketers, filled with prospects who expect messaging that is not only more targeted to them, but in concert with their increasingly personalized and social experiences.
That helps explain why Facebook’s Sponsored Stories — which amplify socially endorsed and created content — perform so well compared to conventional, static ad formats. Socially endorsed ads tend to drive deeper engagement, more click-through and higher brand recall, while establishing connections with micro targets and interest groups.
There is a huge opportunity for marketers to seize the power of Sponsored Stories, though the challenge has been — and will continue to be — one of departmental and agency workflow. Sponsored Stories demand dynamic coordination between content, fan connections and media buying. Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owayang at Atlimeter Group refer to this growing integration of paid, owned and earned media as ”converged media.” Over time, marketers and their agencies will become more sophisticated and integrated in their approach, and they’ll increasingly become savvier in Facebook Sponsored Stories and similar converged-media tactics.
But smart marketers have another opportunity beyond social networks alone: to integrate the micro targets and interest groups of social networks with their own prospect databases, and then again to their larger online and offline marketing communications strategies.
If you think of social as a middle layer, marketers should use social segmentation data – where people of affinity naturally self-select and organize — to enhance segmentation and targeting within their own CRM databases. For example, imagine you discovered on Facebook that I have a newborn (hypothetically speaking). If you’re a bank or retailer or other service business, you might integrate that data with your CRM system, and trigger an alert to your staff at my local branch or store so they can personally seize the opportunity and deliver value to me. And then you can update my profile in your database to programmatically provide related offers to me and other connections in my social network.
Similarly, marketers should use micro segments of the middle social layer to influence multichannel media strategies beyond social networks. If you can attain the demographics, interest and message-response data of your Facebook Fans, why not use those insights to drive messaging and offers in your broader display advertising, television, radio, print and direct mail campaigns?
Who knows if privacy laws and expectations will ever allow a full, seamless connection among all three layers? In the interim, marketers should begin to apply the segments of the middle social layer to fuel the top and bottom layers of the customer marketing funnel — to acquire new customers, and deepen relationships with existing ones.
Such ambitions require sound strategy, extensive data integration and organizational planning, but it can be done. Again, prospects expect messaging that is not only more targeted to them, but in concert with their increasingly personalized and social experiences.
It’s time to start making your marketing social — not only by being present within online social networks, but by using them to fuel the top and the bottom of your larger marketing funnel.
This article also appeared in MediaPost.
Three winners have been chosen in The Social Habit’s call for research questions in the first of our quarterly research reports on the social media habit of Americans 12 and over. Steve Dodd, Rhonda Hurwitz and Susan Baier will receive a free copy of the first report. Our first instrument goes into the field in the coming weeks.
You may recall I’m partnering with Edison Research/Tom Webster, Jay Baer and Mark Schaefer to present a new, quarterly version of Edison’s formerly annual survey of Americans 12 and over who use social media. If you haven’t already, do subscribe to free updates on our findings via The Social Habit’s email list, or follow along on the Social Habit blog.
Jay and Mark are diving into Steve and Rhonda’s questions this week over at Convince and Convert and Grow while I talk a bit with Susan to dive a bit deeper into her question and get a better sense of what she’d like to know from our panel of 3,000 survey takers. I caught up with her yesterday and asked a few questions.
Susan runs Audience Audit, a custom research solutions firm based in Phoenix. She’s been in marketing strategy work for 25 years and is laser focused on delivering the answers of why consumers do what they do in order to help companies better offer relevant messaging, marketing and the like. She’s one of those types that likes to get granular, not just play the numbers, which makes her a lot smarter than a lot of people.
As you would imagine, in her submission to the Social Habit, Susan said, “I’d like to know which motivations are the driving force for various types of social media users, and what roles social media plays for them.” We think this gets to the heart of the consumer insight by asking, “Why do you use these channels.”
Are you really looking for the “Why are you using this?” answer?
SB: Yes. That is it exactly. My work is all about identifying why consumers make choices. From a social media standpoint, I’m interested in uncovering the role these social media tools are playing for people. You and I both know they can use social media channels for different things. Some people use social as a news source, some a Yellow Pages replacement, a review resource or a place to find recommendations from friends … there’s lots of reasons. I’m sure it varies by tool. I’m curious to get to the bottom of that. I see a lot of talk about what people are doing, but not why.
Why is understanding the why important, especially if you break it down by channel or network?
SB: Because people can do the same thing for really different reasons. If you have a restaurant, let’s say a Mexican restaurant, you can have people coming there because it’s owned locally, it’s Mexican food, it’s next door or that it’s cheap. All of those people are motivated by different things. Understanding the role the channel is playing for people means you can serve them more relevant content more of the time. You can use these tools better if you know what those audiences are looking for. The more you know about why they’re doing things, the more intelligent you are about providing them with opportunities. I don’t think knowing the “what” is nearly enough.
So what if you find out the why and wind up with multiple whys with none standing out?
Thats’s where the segmentation comes in. Instead of looking at the averages, when you do a multivariate segmentation analysis you uncover significant groups of people who use these tools for certain reasons. That helps you better deliver relevant services and content to each one.
Is it more important to know the big “Why?” — Why do you use social media? — or the more granular one — Why do you use Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter?
I think they’re both valuable. With the question of social in general, my guess is you’re not going to find one reason. There’s not one reason. We might get some insight into the slots that social media is is filing. I would hope with the number of respondents you’re working with (with the Social Habit) we’ll have some significant data by tool to know a bit more about how they differ from each other. Everyone can understand the difference in say, LinkedIn and Facebook from their own experience. But I think we can dig a little deeper and understand more specific differences in the different networks. The more we understand the “Why,” the better we can use social media to fill their needs.
Certainly, we’re thankful for Susan’s question and perspective and will be fielding a number of questions in the first quarterly iteration of The Social Habit to help begin to answer them. I say begin because we’re not convinced there will be a definitive, final answer to find. But we’ll certainly explore the question and answers to try and get more insight into why people use both social media in general and social media channels specifically.
To subscribe to The Social Habit, you can jump in at three different levels. We would love for your company to subscribe to the research, get it and consulting time from one of the four of the key partners on the project or even get that plus the ability to submit custom questions to be fielded to our panel of 3,000 Americans 12 and older. Pick which plan suits your business needs best and put The Social Habit to work for you.
More information is available on each on The Social Habit pricing page.
The blog and email updates are free, however, so please subscribe to those.
For more on Steve and Rhonda’s questions, check out Jay and Mark’s respective deeper dives. And stay tuned for more insights into why people use social media as the first round of The Social Habit’s new iteration comes to market.
You probably already know this (or are executing these programs), but it is worth running a query to validate anyway.
- Segment customers by months since last purchase, through June 30.
- Add a segmentation layer … 1 = customer visited website in June 2012 but did not purchase … 0 = customer did not visit website in June 2012.
- Based on this level of segmentation, measure the amount of demand the average customer in the segment spent during July 2012.
- Customers who visit the website but do not purchase, especially among those with 7+ months of recency, outperform those who do not visit the website in the past 30 days by a factor of 3x to 10x.
- Kick out a hotline catalog to any lapsed, unmailed buyer who visits your website in the past month and does not purchase.
- Develop trigger-based email programs for customers who are lapsed and then visit the website, sans purchase.
- Call customers who exhibit this behavior, offering your handy/dandy promotional programs that you love to talk about.
If you’re hip to the popular email marketing statistics, you probably know all too well that your email database slowly dies over time. In fact, 25% of your list will expire every year as readers switch jobs, email providers, or unsubscribe from your emails. As your list depreciates, it’s important to not only make sure you’re keeping your list clean, but also that you’re not throwing away active contacts. So what’s the solution? A re-engagement campaign!
What Is a Re-Engagement Campaign?
A re-engagement campaign is a systematic method for re-awakening inactive subscribers, while also identifying which email addresses in your database you should let go of. The campaign only involves your stale contacts — people who have been on your list for a long time who may or may not still be opening, reading, and clicking on your emails. The goal of a re-engagement campaign is to identify which portion of your list you should retain, and which portion you’re better off removing.
Why Is This So Important?
There are several reason why you would want to execute a re-engagement campaign:
1) You’re Emailing an Old List or Switching ESPs
A re-engagement campaign is critical if you’re going to start emailing an old list, or if you’re moving over to a new email service provider (ESP). Batch-and-blasting an old list can get you into some pretty hot water! Your email provider would likely suspend your account if you exceed a certain threshold of bounces. And once you’re suspended, most email providers will reach out and ask you about your list source in order to determine how much of a risk you are to their network. Senders with continued high bounce rates can hurt that ESP’s sending reputation, or even result in them getting added to block lists. It’s similar to borrowing the keys to your friend’s car — your buddy is going to be mighty angry with you if you crash his beloved wheels!
2) To Keep Your Domain’s Reputation Healthy
Another reason to execute a re-engagement campaign is to keep your domain’s reputation healthy. If you repeatedly email people who don’t open, read, or click on your emails, you run the risk of tarnishing the reputation of your company’s domain. Domain reputation is a big factor when it comes to getting into inboxes. And, most importantly, your domain reputation can follow you to different providers. So even if you hop from one email provider to another, you’re not fooling anyone if your domain reputation is tarnished.
3) To Stay Budget-Conscious
Lastly, executing a re-engagement campaign will enable you to make sure you’re not wasting your money. As your list gets older, you’ll end up getting less bang for your buck if you don’t clean out the stale contacts. A re-engagement campaign will ensure that you’re not wasting precious marketing budget on email sends to dead addresses.
How to Launch a Re-Engagement Campaign, Step by Step
Ready to launch your first re-engagement email campaign? Follow these 5 steps, and you’ll reap the benefits of a successful email re-awakening!
Step 1: Give Each of Your Contacts an Age
First, establish a way to assign an age to each of your contacts. There are several ways you can do this, depending on what data is accessible. For example, you could either use the date the contact became a subscriber, the last interaction date, the date of the contact’s source, or any other indicator of age.
Step 2: Decide When Contacts Become Unengaged
Once you’ve established an age for each of your contacts, select a cutoff point where you suspect your list starts to become unengaged. Your cutoff can start anywhere between 3 and 6 months old.
Step 3: Segment Your List
Choose how granular you want to be about segmentation. The more granular you are, the more value you’re likely to get out of this campaign. That is, you can pinpoint your “dead” contacts more accurately if you group your list in 3-month segments versus 6-month segments. The idea is that there’s a cliff — i.e. there’s a certain point in which all contacts beyond a certain age are too cold to continue emailing. The question you want to answer is, at what point does the number of bounces, SPAM complaints, and dead addresses outweigh the benefits of the emails sent? The more refined your segmentation is, the better you’ll be able to pinpoint that age.
(For example, HubSpot’s revamped Email tool, which is currently rolling out to our customers, includes a sleek list segmentation tool that offers a simple way of doing this. You can quickly create cohorts of your database based on demographics, interests, and behaviors.)
When building your segments, you should aim to keep them around 5,000 contacts or fewer. This number is based on the fact that aside from bounce rate, the actual volume of bounces matters too. Depending on your ESP, it may be okay to have a high bounce rate if the volume of bounces isn’t too high.
Step 4: Design Your Emails and Craft Their Copy
The next step is to design your emails and develop the copy for the campaign. Create one email for each segment you’re trying to reawaken. You can either send the same email to each segment, or if you’ve decided to segment more granularly using other variables in addition to just age, you can choose to cater the content/offer and copy within that email to the interests of that particular segment of contacts. The one key component you can’t afford to ignore is that you should be offering something your unengaged contacts will think is highly valuable. Consider this to be your last chance to engage these stale contacts before you cut them loose. And ultimately, your goal is to try to get them to interact with the message. A good method for choosing the content/offer to include in your emails is to analyze the performance of past email sends, and choose something that you know already performs well.
Engagement is critical, because it’s a metric used by email providers to evalute whether or not to deliver email into an inbox. They’re actually looking at what subscribers are doing; for example, in the Gmail client, how many people archived your email without reading it? If they did open it, did they spend time reading it? Actions, like clicking “Reply,” signal positive engagement to email services, and strengthen your sender reputation as a result.
Step 5: Systematically Send Your Emails
Once you have your segments and emails prepared, start by sending your email to the youngest segment. Wait 24 hours, and then check your success metrics. These include: (1) bounce rate (2) complaint rate and (3) click and opens rates. If all of these numbers look healthy, proceed to send the email to your next segment. Repeat this process until the numbers start to look dicey.
You’re probably wondering, “What qualifies as dicey?” Here is a rundown of what you should be keeping an eye out for:
1) Bounce rates over 5% are cause for concern, as anything over 5% can get your account shut off by some ESPs. For more info on what an acceptable bounce rate is, you should check with your ESP. Most ESPs publish such information in their acceptable use policy.
2) SPAM compliant rates should be 0.1% or lower, although the actual threshold that most ISPs publish is 0.3%. Anything over 0.3% would likely result in a chat with your ESP’s abuse desk. In addition to the bounce rate, HubSpot’s own Email tool, for example, makes the SPAM complaint rate of every email easy to access:
3) Open and click-through rates are more subjective. The best way to determine a threshold for these is to think in terms of dollars. That is, ask yourself, “Is it worth it to continue spending money and time to email these people?” If you’re not getting a suitable conversion rate from a given segment, it’s time to let them go.
That’s all there is to it! Once you notice that your metrics are reporting some pretty dismal numbers, it’s safe to assume that any segment of contacts who are older than that should be removed from your list.
Have you ever tried executing a re-engagement email campaign? What challenges did you encounter?
Marketing lists have a bad reputation. For B2B organizations, acquiring information about potential customers has historically meant buying or renting lists from publishers and professional directories. Poor data quality, lack of coverage, and few segmentation options were some of the limitations of an industry that owes much of its thinking and behavior to the byzantine, non-digital world of direct mail, rather than the needs of marketers driving today’s revenue generation engines. “List” is often a four-letter word associated with a sketchy industry.
However, we are seeing a turning point in the B2B data industry that has occurred because of the incredible growth of customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation — a sector that has boomed throughout the current recession. The combination of technology and business process automation in the sales and marketing environment continues to deliver revenue for companies large and small. However, when you mix dirty data and automation, quite simply, nothing happens. I refer to this as “friction” in the lead generation process, and it has been the impetus for change in the data industry, forcing the separation of the wheat from the chaff.
Marketing and CRM automation provide the plumbing of today’s sales process. Data are the things flowing through the pipes, and dirty information will easily gum up the works. When marketing emails bounce and sales follow-up calls reach a dead end, bad data get really expensive really fast in a revenue generation environment. Today’s B2B marketers are smart — they aren’t using lists for “spray and pray” tactics, but rather for targeted audience development driven by a bloom of content marketing. They’re also smarter data shoppers — not falling for the old tricks of buying data without accountability for its performance. Today, data acquisition and maintenance strategies are key ingredients of successful marketing departments.
This new market drove the turning point; the old way just wasn’t working for marketers, and the data providers needed to change. Fortunately, at the same time this was occurring, technology came into existence that forever overhauled the list business as we know it. Sets of segmented, consistent data of high quality are now the tools of a savvy marketer and the fuel that amplifies persona-based content marketing through automated systems. Marketers today can choose to work with data that have been “scrubbed” to ensure greater accuracy, disparate information can be combined more easily, and, with the advent of this cleaner and more complete data set, marketers can perform more complex segmentation, slicing and dicing to their hearts’ content.
Today’s marketer has choices when it comes to buying lists and improving the data they already have. As the industry continues to evolve, buyers will want to perform due diligence when they select a partner. Marketers can and should:
- Know the origin of the list data
- Be familiar with the methodology being used to keep the data clean
- Expect reputable list providers to offer a guarantee
- Ensure their email campaigns are CAN-SPAM compliant
- Look for a partner that provides additional data services that may be helpful, such as data cleansing
When done right, lists can be a respected and critical part of successful B2B marketing programs. Marketers leveraging automation, lead scoring, content marketing, and inbound web registrations all have one critical piece of the puzzle in common: contact and company data. The B2B data companies willing to rise to the challenge can become partners for marketers who need to amplify their messaging and create demand. The rest will be left behind.
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“B2B – business to business concept” image via Shutterstock.
Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Making The Case For Adding Keyword Segmentation To Your SEO Repertoire Last month in The Forgotten SEO Strategy: Targeting Striking Distance Keywords we talked…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Last month in The Forgotten SEO Strategy: Targeting Striking Distance Keywords we talked about how search professionals could approach their keyword strategy by targeting keywords based on their ranking position. Specifically, we showed how they can target striking distance keywords—keywords…
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Aimia, a Canadian company who specialise in loyalty management, recently unveiled an industry-first segmentation model that analysed the behavioural drivers of trust and control to identify six distinct social media personas – no shows, newcomers, onlookers, cliquers, mix-n-minglers and sparks.
So here’s the big question: which of these best describes you?
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