As B2B marketers, we need to generate leads. More than that, we need to generate the BEST FIT leads, which will then turn into customers.
When it comes to B2B lead generation, it’s important to only work with clean, high-quality, targeted data. The best marketers then use this data to help form and cultivate relationships with their potential customers through their marketing campaigns.
Nowadays it is all too easy to use data that isn’t up to par, or that is a poor fit for your business, especially as B2B data in your database declines in quality by 40% in a year.
This five-step guide highlights why data quality is so important for B2B lead generation, and how you can ensure that your lead gen strategy is setting you up for success.
1. Prioritise data quality
The starting point of any worthwhile lead generation strategy always has to be data. Your dataset is your business, and it pays to ensure it is as well organised as possible.
Common pitfalls include incomplete data records, duplication, out of date data and a lack of process for members of staff charged with maintaining and adding to lead records. It pays to assign data integrity responsibility to specified internal champions to ensure consistency and attribute value to upholding the data collection, storage and maintenance process..
2. Size isn’t everything
It can be tempting to try and ensure your database is as large as possible for maximum opportunities, but quality and quantity are rarely synonymous – not every lead will turn into a customer; in fact, the majority won’t. Nevertheless, leads are far more likely to bear fruit if they are of high quality to start with.
Analyse your database and check if any of the records it contains are out-of-date, incomplete, or illegally acquired? Are there any duplicates or poorly formatted records?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it’s crucial to implement data cleansing. That means removing any records that are out-of-date or acquired illegally, filling in existing gaps, and removing duplicates. It’s important to cleanse and ‘restore’ your existing data ahead of any marketing or sales activity, but if you’re worried this process will leave you with fewer leads than you hoped, don’t panic.
An excellent way to enhance your lead gen machine is to purchase B2B data from a reputable and expert source. B2B data specialists, such as our team, will work with you to create a targeted list of leads that meet your sales and marketing agreed lead criteria. Our Megabase is constructed from information licensed from the top 5 UK data sources which are 118 Information, Thomson Directories, Corpdata, Dun and Bradstreet and Companies House. We then merge, de-duplicate and verify every record to ensure the final lists provide a richer depth of information to ensure your campaigns get the fuel they need to maximise their chances of success.
Data privacy and security has been moved straight into the forefront of B2B data and marketing. Businesses are now under significantly more pressure to ensure they are only using contact data they have a right to use, and that they treat it securely and responsibly.
Many databases on the market can put businesses in danger because they are not updated regularly enough, meaning they could include contact details for those who no longer want their information stored and used. We process more than 800,000 updates every month with every business record subjected to more than 40 quality and legal compliance checks to ensure data is compliant with GDPR and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
Purchasing quality data is a hugely effective way to enhance your existing database and support your sales teams pipeline with targeted leads – as you can tell, we can’t stress enough the importance of working with a reputable B2B data partner.
3. Work with sales
The old marketing versus sales model is dead. The companies performing best in the era of digital marketing are the ones that have managed to renegotiate the battle lines. Indeed, it’s hard to see how any serious business can expect to move forward without its marketing and sales teams pulling in the same direction.
When it comes to generating, nurturing and – ultimately – passing over the highest quality usable leads, this cross-departmental collaboration is absolutely essential.
First of all, it’s preferable if the buy-in is secured from both sides. Once that’s in place, it’s essential to discuss and decide exactly what marketing thinks a lead looks like and what sales think a lead looks like. Nurturing and lead scoring are your friends here. With an effective understanding and mutual agreement in place, it will mean leads are only passed to sales when they are ready – so that ultimately more of them will convert.
4. Think people, not leads
When discussing leads there’s a real danger of forgetting that the records being generated and pushed through your funnel are actually the names of real people. They are people with unique objectives and challenges, needs and requirements. Treat them as such when planning the content that will form the core of your demand generation and lead work.
Before you start penning your content, commissioning copywriters and thinking about design and delivery, make sure you know exactly who you’re hoping to engage with and what they want to consume. Get under the skin of the challenges they face.
Creating personas is a great exercise to ensure your messages are being crafted in a way that means they’re likely to resonate with their intended recipients.
If you can become a trusted content partner and source of inspiration for your prospects, they will happily make their own way down the funnel.
5. Integrate everything
There’s little doubt that inbound marketing has breathed much needed new life into B2B lead and demand generation. Many companies have been able to add real value to the markets in which they operate by following best practice content marketing advice. And, that’s a great way to build solid leads.
However, focusing on inbound marketing at the expense of more traditional methods isn’t necessarily going to bear fruit when it comes to lead generation. Email, postal mail and even telemarketing all still have their place when it comes to generating quality leads. Once again, it all comes down to the individual people you’re trying to reach.
The most sensible way to approach lead generation is to adopt an integrated model. Only when all your marketing efforts dovetail and direct people to the right messages, as and when they want them, can you regard your efforts as being entirely efficient. Know what works where, and never do anything for the sake of it.
Bonus Tip: Have patience
As any good salesman knows, nothing is likely to scare off a potential sale quicker than a lack of patience. The same is true for lead generation and nurturing. Quite simply, people will only be ready to buy – or even move in the direction of purchase – when they are good and ready, and this is especially true in B2B markets where you are potentially asking people to put a great deal of money and their professional reputation on the line.
The imperative to hit KPIs, lead targets and revenue figures in any given quarter can sometimes feel all-encompassing. But patience is a virtue, and the best leads – the ones that convert and come back for more – are very rarely created overnight.