A lead generation program is a little like a cake. You need every single ingredient in the recipe to make it work. Forget just one ingredient – like baking powder – and your efforts will fall flat.
In this article we’ll discuss the importance of the state of your database. It’s not glamorous, but it is critical to getting the results you want.
So why is your database health so important?
B2B lead generation can be a bit of a numbers game and your success is often dependent upon reaching your full addressable market. Here’s an example: Your database includes 5,000 contacts from 3,000 companies, but your addressable market is actually more like 25,000 companies. That means you’re missing out on a big opportunity to market to all of your prospects and generate as many qualified leads as possible if you don’t grow your database.
Of course, the number of contacts in your database isn’t the only issue you need to address. The quality of your contact records is a critical factor as well. In this article we’ll go into why both the quality and size of your database can make or break your lead generation efforts.
Problem 1: Your data is dirty, outdated and incomplete
By dirty database, we mean that you have incomplete or old contact information. Jobs and titles change, employees turn over, companies go out of business and mergers occur. All of this contributes to dirty data or database decay.
Dirty data impacts many aspects of your business – from sales to customer service – but it’s especially detrimental to lead generation. According to ZoomInfo, 37% of business email addresses change each year. So if you’re relying on email to generate leads and your database isn’t up-to-date, you may be missing out on nearly 40% of your market each year. Compound that number over multiple years and you can see how your database can go from effective to nearly obsolete as it ages.
Another database issue we see is incomplete data. This matters because one of the most effective ways to conduct lead generation is through targeted campaigns segmented by audience. If you’re missing critical data like industry, revenue or title, it becomes pretty hard to effectively tailor your message to your different segments. And if you are missing email addresses, you won’t even be able to reach them through your campaigns.
Solution: Clean up your database
Depending on the size of your database, you can manually clean up, consolidate and track down correct contact information. However, this tactic is very time consuming and usually not recommended.
A better solution is to work with companies that focus on database cleanup. A data validation service like ZeroBounce or NeverBounce will test and confirm valid emails while flagging emails that are invalid or spam traps. Other companies, like ZoomInfo or Dun & Bradstreet, can take your current database and append data to missing fields so that you have more complete contact records.
Database cleaning isn’t a one-off exercise. How often you clean your data will depend on your individual business, but it’s a good idea to review and clean up your data at least annually. We also recommend considering cleaning out records older than two years with no activity in more than 18 months.
Problem #2: You have a small database
While “small” is a relative term, in this case we’re referring to a database that’s much smaller than your addressable market. As we mentioned, a small database limits your reach, which means you have fewer opportunities to talk to the people and companies who could benefit from your services.
With a larger database, you can cast a wider net with your outgoing marketing efforts and have a higher likelihood of generating leads. And you’ll also be better able to segment your lists to personalize outreach efforts – another important factor in lead generation success.
Solution: Grow your database
There are two main ways to grow your database – buy data from a list vendor or build it organically.
Whether you choose to build your database from scratch or buy a list, you have to start with the basics, and that’s determining your ideal customer and/or target audience. Much of this information will be found through buyer persona or voice of the customer work.
Once you know who you’re targeting at a high level, you can get more granular and build contact properties. These properties can be used in various forms on your website (to build your database organically) or shared with database vendors to identify the best contacts. Generally, you’re looking for: name, title, industry, email, phone number and geography.
If you do choose to buy a database, you’ve got to be careful. Just because you have a long list of potential clients doesn’t mean those contacts want you to start sending them emails. In fact, sending cold emails to a large database can do more harm than good because you’re likely to end up blacklisted – which will severely impact your deliverability rates.
A smart way to use purchased lists is to go slowly and implement an email warming campaign as the starting point. This type of campaign goes out to your purchased list. The intent is to understand whether these contacts are interested in your services before they go into your marketing automation software and official database.
If new contacts open and engage with your warming campaign, they can be placed in your database as a marketing qualified lead (MQL). You can then further engage with these contacts through nurture campaigns.
A database is one of those foundational marketing components that can make a big difference in every aspect of your marketing program – but especially in lead generation. Databases that are well-maintained and big enough to reach your addressable market will ultimately help you get the best results from your lead generation efforts.
Be sure to check back here soon for the next installment in our B2B lead generation series.