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Have you ever tried to purchase a list for direct marketing purposes? If you have, it’s fairly likely you’ve come across obsolescent data that renders your marketing campaign impotent. Wrong names (where people have left the business), wrong numbers, businesses that have closed, incorrectly profiled businesses under sectors where you wonder how a hospital comes under the heading of architects!

The problem is that b2b data is almost impossible to keep clean. Think about the number of changes in any given business (especially the large ones) every week. Then extrapolate that on an annual basis and you will understand that no data provider can keep their lists entirely up to date. Employees leave. They get promoted and move to other roles. Companies close and get acquired by other businesses. They move premises. I could go on.

Yet valid, fresh and clean data is the lifeblood of any telemarketing, direct mail or email marketing campaign. It determines success and ROI. That’s especially the case in higher value b2b sales where, typically, calls will be into large blue-chip companies. Imagine a scenario where you’ve made umpteen calls, hit IVR routers asking you to press 1 for this and 2 for that to finally reach a human who advises you that John Smith left 3 years ago and the organization has a no-name policy. Frustrating isn’t it.

So, it makes sense to spend time to ensure that your marketing lists are as accurate as possible. But it’s quite a job to do. Below are our key tips for how to How to Improve Data Management for B2B Marketing.

1. Recognise that no data will ever be perfect

As we mentioned earlier, the reality is that companies merge and close, people leave their jobs or get made redundant. Companies promote and hire and expand and contract. These natural situations mean that you do need to be a pragmatist and also work hard to get the best data possible for your needs.

2. Know your market and your list criteria

Whatever marketing activity you undertake will be compromised if you target the wrong audience. Therefore, start at the beginning and identify the following parameters for your data:

      • Target sector or industry
      • Size of organization (e.g. number of employees, turnover, number of sites or branches)
      • HQ or branch level decision-making. This is important if decisions are only made at head office
      • Job role for your decision-maker – The larger the company, the more likely you are to get blocked if you don’t know the name of the decision-maker
      • Location – Do you have the resources to travel countrywide or even internationally?

3. Find a good list provider

Get recommendations if possible. Make sure they adhere to opt-out screening for those that do not wish to receive unsolicited communication. Try to find approved suppliers endorsed by industry bodies. Perhaps visit the marketing shows and check the providers out. Different providers have different specializations. Some will be very industry-specific and some will be job-function-specific.

You need to find the one that best suits your needs and it’s worth investing the time. However, beware that even specialists can prove less effective than you’d like. We’ve bought specialist CRM lists and the data has turned out to be very shoddy despite our best efforts at qualification. Equally, we bought one list from an industry respected magazine specifying a particular job role. Yet when we received the data, there was no title or first name. Hence, the records gave us J.Smith. Was that Mr or Miss, John or Julie? Suffice it to say, that supplier did not receive payment!

4. If it’s important, research it!

One of our clients recently produced a stunning piece of direct mail to a targeted list. It would have been very costly in every way had we not validated the contact name /decision-maker for every company in advance of calling. It’s not just where you’re sending direct mail of some sort or where you have a limited audience. If you have a target market, it pays, in the long run, to identify the right data and validate that as you go along and even before active outbound calls. Use LinkedIn and Google. Make calls to the company to check who is the person responsible for your products or services. As we explained earlier, no data set is perfect so you will have to validate and append as you go. The bigger the organization, the more likely this will be the case.

5. Make data management a priority

Garbage in, garbage out is an expression often used in marketing. It’s absolutely true. Marketers are generally only as good as the data with which they operate. So, it’s essential that data entry people are properly trained to update data in the correct manner. It may be easier to add a new phone number in the notes field as you go along but it’s a nightmare when you come to export that data and it’s impossible to find easily in a large database when it doesn’t feature in the telephone or DDI field. Likewise, if the notes themselves don’t reflect the conversation or miss out a vital piece of market intelligence, the outcome may be compromised on the next contact. And, there’s a risk of reputational damage. So, make data management a priority and you’ll see better results.

If you’d like to know how GSA Business Development can help generate growth for your business or you’d like to book one of our new business development and marketing strategy workshops, contact us now on 0845 658 8192


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