David Kirkpatrick

B2B Marketing: Building a quality list

Teleprospecting, email campaigns, drip marketing, lead nurturing — all of these marketing tactics have one very important element in common. Each one begins with a list, and the quality of the data in that list has a direct influence on the success of each tactic.

Looking at the top of the funnel

“Data is so top of the funnel, yet it is so undervalued,” says Brandon Stamschror, Senior Director of Operations for the Leads Group, MECLABS (the parent company of MarketingSherpa.)

He explains that creating a quality list begins with an organizational philosophy that places a high value on data quality. This might require a philosophy shift in some companies, and it will likely require leadership support in the idea that data quality is important and that this importance might need to be proven by testing.

“A lot of times I see that marketers think they have this really robust, large database, but soon find out that because of data quality issues, they only have a small segment of their actual ideal customers that they wanted to be focusing on,” says Stamschror. “They are kind of getting lost in the quagmire of trying to manage untargeted data.”

Pay more, gain more

Stamschror says the solution may be to spend more on data to reap the benefits of higher-quality lists.

He explains you want to:

  • Be specific about the data you need to focus on
  • Don’t collect more data than you really need on your ideal buyer profile or persona

If you don’t do these two things, it can become overwhelming to manage a very large list. And if your data quality is low, you might have a list of 50,000 contacts, with only 10,000 who are relevant to your business.

Data hygiene is an ongoing process

Looking at data quality isn’t something you can do once and be satisfied that you’ve completed a task to take off the “to-do” list. Stamschror recommends data remediation projects every three to six months if there is no other data hygiene process in place.

Even though it’s not cost effective having your lead generation and prospecting staff spend time tracking down bad entries in the list, or engaging in a wholesale data update, it is beneficial to create a process where your team is regularly updating and appending account information as part of their day-to-day activity. There is little, to no, additional investment for staff to update contact fields as they discover missing, or incorrect, items. Stamschror adds if controlling data quality isn’t feasible as an internal process, you should find a data quality partner you can trust.

He explains, “It is always important to have someone who has some distinct responsibility for data quality.”

Stamschror says that as many as half of all lists he’s encountered contain duplicate information because there is no data hygiene or remediation process in place to keep the database clean.

“It really gives you a false sense of security,” he says. “You think, ‘I have all these contacts that I can run email campaigns or teleprospecting campaigns off of,’ and then you find out once you get into it that your list isn’t really as big as you thought it was, or as robust as you thought, and worse yet, you are spending a lot of time just wasting time (with the bad list).”

Less can be more

Stamschror says it is much more important to have a very clean, but smaller, prospect list, as opposed to a bloated list full of bad and/or irrelevant data. He states this is particularly important for B2B marketers who should be focused on a smaller group of highly targeted prospects.

Stamschror offers a piece of final advice, “You know the companies that you really need to be focused on. So focus on the right one.”

Related Resources

(Members library) CRM and the Marketing Database: Data hygiene, behavioral analysis and more

(Members library) Cause Marketing: Marketer builds email list with 20% conversion rate

New Chart: Most effective email list growth tactics

Email List Hygiene: Remove four kinds of bad addresses to improve deliverability

B2B Marketing: The 7 most important stages in the teleprospecting funnel

Photo credit: Donovan Govan


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B2B Marketing, Email Marketing, Lead Generation



  1. June 15th, 2011 at 16:26 | #1

    David,

    Great post about the absolute importance of maintaining a high quality B2B list. An issue we often see in our space (of early to medium stage software companies) is that a company will start out with a good, targeted list that has great conversion. Hoping to replicate their success, they go on to add to the list, mixing and blending in multiple sources, both from inbound leads to outside list vendors and lead generation programs. It becomes a less targeted list, has lower contact information.

    All these while, the database continues to deliver good converted leads. What they do not notice is that the conversion rates will drop, and the list will reach saturation point because it was not nurtured and fine tuned well enough.

    The only way to prevent this is to have a very rigid, consistent lead quality program/process in house and put someone in charge of it.

  2. June 27th, 2011 at 18:38 | #2

    What a great post David! I agree with the fact that “less is more”. The problem that I have had explaining this to people is that there are so many people out there who still just believe that if they’ll buy a million email addresses and just spam them over and over again, they’ll be successful. Extremely focused and clean prospect list not only helps reduce spamming but also saves a lot of time and I believe to some extent actually builds good reputation for the company.

    cheers,
    GT

  3. July 25th, 2011 at 05:20 | #3

    Good points – especially think that good data hygiene is important. Do not necessarily agree that a smaller list is better – you should just segment and leave the non responding prospects to their own segment, treat differently and see if you can reinvigorate.

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