Don’t think Database Profiling & Segmentation is sexy or important? Check out these mind-boggling facts on Forbes. Data is all around us and making sense of data as it relates to your business is one of your most important tasks.
So, maybe sexy isn’t the right word. Talking about data and segmentation is pretty much the last topic you’d expect when it comes to the high energy world of sales and marketing. We’d run a mile at a party if we got stuck with the data geek. However, we all want to learn about techniques to help us sell more and tips for becoming a better salesperson. We want to know which marketing tools to use to generate more leads. And, we do want to discuss bang for buck and ROI when spending our marketing budgets.
Critical Tools for Marketing
But, the reality is that analysis, target market segmentation and audience profiling are crucial tools in your fight for market share and more business. Let’s keep it simple for a moment. If you fire at a target that’s in a different place to where you’re aiming, you’re unlikely to hit the bullseye. That’s the point. You need to refine your aim until you identify where to identify and reach your most lucrative potential customers.
Big Data is Here
Big data is a term that’s bandied around a lot in marketing circles. But, what does it mean? It relates to large data sets that are analysed to reveal the trend in human behaviour and interactions that can be used to support business and marketing decision-making. Want to see some interesting (no, honestly, they are!) facts about big data? Check out this article from Waterford Technologies.
You see, you can be the best [insert your business or profession here] in the world but if you don’t target the right prospects, then you won’t sell to potential new customers. Equally, you won’t be able to drive as much value out of your current customers if you’re unable to identify and segment them in such a way as to allow you to refine your target marketing.
Market Scoping helps you grow your business
So, your start point for lead generation must be to scope your market. If you’re just starting out, you maybe need to do some homework on the likely best targets. If you’ve got a large customer list and bags of experience, do some analysis on your customer database to determine the best place to target. And, you need to delve deeper than just looking at type of customer. For example, perhaps you know where most of your customers come from in terms of location. Maybe you know the size in terms of turnover or number of employees. Perhaps there are other criteria. But, which segment is the most profitable? Do some work to establish the costs associated with servicing those segments and customers. You may find sub-segments that are or become, your sweet spot that gives you your best ROI.
Identify key Criteria
List brokers offer any number of criteria from which you can choose in order to get to a marketing list for outbound marketing. But, it isn’t just about outbound. Inbound marketing is inherently less costly and those customers that approach you, rather than the other way around, are more likely to close. So, where do you go to find them? If you don’t know who they are, that is a task that could be impossible.
So, one of your primary marketing and sales tasks is to analyse your marketplace as much as you can. The problem is that this exercise is likely to flush out one potential problem i.e. How complete is the data you hold on your customers? We’ve done several exercises for customers to either build target databases for them or to validate and enhance existing databases. That allows them to better segment and, subsequently, undertake targeted marketing campaigns. A good example of the challenge was for one of our customers in the charity sector. They had 3 potential target decision makers for a particular campaign. And, their job functions were quite diverse I.e. HR director, sales director and the manager for Corporate Social Responsibility.
Clearly, these decision makers have different responsibilities and very different motivations. The same message won’t work with each. Without clarity on who is the decision maker at the most basic level, any marketing campaign will inevitably fall short.
Profiling Current Customers
The same can be said of outbound marketing to existing customers if the database hasn’t been kept up to date. This is very much a false economy. Undertaking a database validation exercise may require some internal or external resource and investment to maintain the integrity of large customer database but it’s worth it.
We recently undertook a sizeable piece of work for a client that involved targeting 30,000 customers in around 15,000 organisations in the UK, across Europe and as far as the USA. The quality of the data was questionable at best and it slowed down the calling due to the poor quality of the information on the system. That naturally reduced the relative effectiveness of the initial activity and cost significantly more due to the time involved. In addition, a separate exercise became necessary to validate some of the poorer data as we went along. What’s more, the data wasn’t segmented in any meaningful way to facilitate accurate targeting (e.g. larger customer first) which would have made the outcomes much more profitable. And, remember this was a customer database, not a prospect target list.
Keeping Data Fresh
Whilst profiling and segmentation are important, we are not saying it’s easy. You have to find cost effective ways to keep data fresh. And, to some extent, it’s a losing battle. In b2b, things change all the time. People leave roles. They get promoted. Companies merge and expand and individuals receive promotions and lose their jobs. Hence, it’s impossible to constantly be on top of every company.
Practical Steps for Success
So, what are the steps you need to take? These include:
1. Put a stake in the ground
Allocate some time, resource and funds to data and data management. Whether you do this internally or enlist external support for database validation and data building, to allow internal staff to focus on other tasks, it is important.
2. Devise a plan
Understand what you need in terms of profiling and segmenting your current customer database and identifying new data for prospecting. You will almost inevitably have a new product or service launches over time or have other reasons to want to engage with your customers on a targeted basis rather than sending every piece of marketing communication to every customer. That’s an expensive way to do business. For that to be effective, you need good data that is profiled accurately and refreshed regularly. So, work out what you need to do and make this a routine task for your business.
3. Work out what data is critical
You don’t need to know everything about everyone and about every company. If company turnover isn’t relevant, don’t worry (albeit size is often linked to spending). However, work out what key pieces of information you need about customers and prospects that support your ability to segment them into groups for targeting. Don’t forget though, that any information you retain needs to be appropriate or you risk falling foul of new GDPR (data protection) rules coming into force in May 2018. This is particularly the case for consumer data but relates to us as individuals so you also need to take care of personal information related to people in a business context.
Clearly, making sure that the decision maker you need is still in situ is imperative. Supplier changes are often led by new people in their post that want to make their mark. Make sure therefore that you have some consistent method for checking that your buyer is still in their job. That’s all the more important when purchases are infrequent and your database is large. Your internal sales team cannot reach out to every customer and, as a consequence, things may change without you knowing.
4. Gather market intelligence
Things change and data isn’t static. New entrants to the marketplace shake up the existing status quo. Buyer priorities change. This means that you shouldn’t neglect the need to profile your market by asking the right questions. We’re not talking about basic information like contact details here. This is more related to pieces of information that inform marketing and sales decision-making. It may be that number of employees is critical here. Or, it may be how long contract periods run for. Or, it could be specific information related to how the prospect or customer currently approaches a particular problem in their business. This is, to some extent, market research. We prefer to call this market insight since it isn’t necessarily a formal research project but it is part of data building to allow better targeting e.g. contacting by telephone or sending an email to all of those customers coming up for renewal within 6 months or all customers with machinery that is > 5 years old.
5. Act on the findings
There’s no point doing a database validation exercise if you’re not going to do something with it. This is where it gets sexy and you see your return on investment. If you gather the right info, keep your data clean and profile to allow better targeting, your marketing effectiveness will increase and your business will grow.
GSA helps businesses, large and small, become more effective in their marketing and business development. We run outbound telemarketing campaigns into the UK, Europe and further afield. Also, with our experience, we provide telemarketing training to help sales teams improve their results. If you’d like to know more, give us a call.