B2B Marketing Database: How to Create the Best One
Your company’s B2B marketing success will only ever be as good as its data.
When you know essential details about the companies and contacts you are targeting you have a better chance of engaging them. When you engage your leads, you have a better chance of converting them and conversion means customers, sales, and money.
A marketing team with an outdated or inaccurate B2B database, though, runs the risk of wasting its time on mostly ineffectual marketing pitches.
For these reasons, businesses must be vigilant about building and maintaining quality B2B data.
The following guide offers valuable advice on accumulating and maintaining relevant data.
- What Is a B2B Database?
- Why Marketing Teams Need Reliable B2B Databases
- The Best Practices in B2B Data Management
- What Your Business Needs to Know about Data Decay
- Buying B2B Data from Third Party Providers
- B2B Database Laws & Regulations
- How FHG can help you
1. What is a B2B Marketing Database?
A B2B database is a log of all the data your marketing team has about potential clients and customers. Sometimes, your team might also use terms like “B2B database” and “B2B contact list”. While a B2B database should include full business contact data, it should also be more than just a list of jumbled leads and email addresses.
On the contrary, your B2B database should also include firmographic details about target clients. Firmographics include industry, geographic location, company size, and information about performance. Specific details on the actual point(s) of contact are also relevant. For instance, if your B2B database includes contact data for a person at a specific company, the database should specify whether that person is a decision-maker or someone lower down the totem pole.
2. Why Marketing Teams Need Reliable B2B Databases
Your B2B contact database can be inaccurate and unreliable in a few diverse ways. This can cause problems for your marketing team, including:
- Prospects provide incorrect contact details, whether intentionally or accidentally
- Employee turnover causes contact lists to become out of date
- Businesses move, close, merge, or evolve, and the information in a B2B database won’t be a true reflection of that prospective client
- B2B databases are too sparse, lacking essential information about clients and decision makers
These problems can wreak havoc on your marketing team’s ability to achieve success. Inaccurate or outdated data lists mean that dozens of your emails end up undeliverable to inboxes that no longer exist. B2B data lists that lack firmographics and decision maker information, meanwhile, leave you unable to target marketing efforts toward specific buyer personas or pain points. Initiating robust account-based marketing is impossible without thorough, reliable data.
A quality data list will make everything easier for your B2B marketing team. It avoids wasting time sending messages to deleted email accounts and calling disconnected telephone lines. It also gives you enough knowledge about your prospects to target them with marketing campaigns that appeal to their wants and needs. In short, data puts your marketers on the right track, ready to help your company win more clients, make more money, and grow rapidly.
3. The Best Practices in B2B Data Management
Your team should think about B2B contact data as if it were the gasoline in an automobile. On a long road trip, when you know you have a full tank of gas, you can focus on other things. You might gear your attention toward navigating the route to observing the beauty visible from the highway. The same is true in B2B marketing. When you know, your data is detailed, up-to-date, and reliable, you can focus on building marketing strategies, establishing strong account relationships, and driving profits.
How can you be sure your B2B database is in good health? Here are a few key strategies:
- Set standards: Check that everyone on your team knows what data to use for business contact data entry. Merely having a name and an email address isn’t sufficient. You want firmographics, buyer persona information, and multiple forms of contact. Preferably, you also want more than one email address or contacts for each business you are targeting. When everyone knows what the quality standard is for the database, the data will be better across the board.
- Establish a monitoring process: A B2B database that is healthy today may not be so tomorrow. Because of data decay, your contact list is going to dwindle in effectiveness every month—unless you maintain it. Establish a process to monitor the health of your data, update inaccurate information, and add fresh details to the database. As your marketers notice disconnected phone numbers or inactive email addresses, they should flag those data entries. That way, someone can go through, quickly spot the problem areas, and work on updating everything.
- Grow your contact list: Just as your car needs to be filled with new gasoline every few hundred miles, your B2B contact database continually requires current information. Sometimes, that means updating an existing data entry when the decision maker at a target company leaves. Other times, it means implementing lead generation strategies to add new prospective clients to the database.
Simply put, remember that your database is never “done.” Instead, it’s a work in progress. If neglected, this ‘work’ will fall rapidly into disrepair. Using the best practices described above will help you manage your data in such a way that keeps your B2B marketing team on top of things.
4. What Your Business Needs to Know about Data Decay
B2B marketing teams often ask: “How often should we be going through and updating our contact lists?”
On the one hand, the monitoring process should be ongoing. It’s not that difficult to spot outdated contact details and flag them for an update.
The problem is that data decay is constant, and it’s sometimes more challenging to identify than you might think.
For instance, a contact might switch email addresses, but keep the old one active. Hopefully, they will set up forwarding and still receive any emails you send, but there is no guarantee. Other unqualified leads may opt out of your marketing communications entirely.
Overall, statistics indicate that the average email marketing database will degrade by more than 20% each year. Things such as proper SEO, compelling website design, and smart inbound marketing can bring in a few new leads to replace the ones you lost. However, inbound marketing is less successful for B2B marketers than it is for B2C campaigns. In other words, you need a way to generate more leads quickly. The question is, how do you do it?
5. Buying B2B Data from Third Party Providers
The good news is that you don’t have to build your B2B database lists all on your own. There are several services out there that sell B2B data. Using one of these services can provide consistent injections of new data into your contact list.
The unwelcome news is that not all these services are created equal. Some services are vigilant about providing “scrubbed” data, Scrubbed databases only include contact information and details about decision makers. Other services pull together data from social media, with little consideration of the quality of that data. This cavalier attitude toward data collection can lead to inaccurate information, conflicting details about the same company, and worthless leads. Sometimes, the people on these lists are so fed up with being contacted unexpectedly that they consider unsolicited pitches from B2B list buyers a form of harassment.
Purchasing data from dodgy providers can do more harm than good. However, while B2B data brokers often get a bad rap, some vendors will supply high-quality data. Here are a few tactics you can use to separate the good apples from the bad ones:
- Look for positive mentions around the web: Do your homework. The internet is a valuable resource when it comes to researching data suppliers. If you are considering a vendor that has a bad reputation online, look elsewhere.
- Start a conversation: You need to reach out to a data provider before you buy a list. You wouldn’t hire someone without an interview, and you shouldn’t buy a B2B data list without one, either. Ask about when they created the list. Ask when the data was last validated. Ask what fields are included in the list, to make sure you are getting a list that isn’t just random email addresses. Ask for the completion percentage of each field, to check that the fields that attract you most (such as firmographic and demographic information) aren’t just white space. Ensure the provider curated the list themselves, or bought it from another third-party source. The answers to these questions—and the willingness with which the data broker provides information—will tell you a lot.
- Look at unique features: The best B2B data brokers provide more than just information. Look for extra features and services, from geo-targeting to live data updating.
Finally, remember that a bigger data list isn’t necessarily a better list. Would you rather buy a list of 100 full contact entries? Or would you rather have a list of 1,000 contacts with missing fields?
6. B2B Database Laws & Regulations
The process of creating, buying, and using B2B databases is not a free for all. Depending on where your company is based, you might be required to observe specific laws or regulations.
Perhaps the most significant recent piece of B2B data protection legislation is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR). The GDPR does not go into effect until May 2018. However, when this piece of legislation becomes enforceable, it is going to change a few things for B2B marketers.
The law is mostly an update to previous legislation. It bears spiritual ties to the EU’s 1998 Data Protection Act and the 2003 Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. These rules put safeguards in place for personal information and indicated when and how businesses could contact consumers. GDPR extends the confidential information protection to business. This tweak means that B2B marketers must comply with the same standards as B2C marketers.
Specifically, B2B marketers will need contacts to opt-in to marketing communications. Consumers and businesses also have the “right to be forgotten,” which means that they can ask marketers to delete all their information. Compliance with these data protection laws will undoubtedly change the face of B2B marketing (and B2C marketing) in the European Union.
Businesses operating in other parts of the world, meanwhile, should familiarize themselves with any laws or regulations active in their corner of the globe.
7. How FHG can help you
FHG is a data provider that helps B2B companies implement more valid account-based marketing strategies. Unlike some data brokers, FHG doesn’t sell static data lists. Instead, we track each contact in our database and update our data when people change roles or move companies. The result is actionable business intelligence that you can use to grow your list of leads, stimulate your marketing efforts, and win more accounts.
Here are a few of the key features of FHG:
- Sophisticated client profiles: Our B2B databases are more than just email contact lists. We also include detailed firmographic and demographic information, so that you can know more about the companies and contacts you are trying to reach.
- Geo-Targeting: Most businesses don’t operate worldwide. As such it makes no sense for the contact lists they buy to include information for contacts in countries they don’t serve. At FHG, our B2B data lists aren’t just random. We cover more than 90 countries around the world. The key is that you choose which ones to target when you buy data, not us.
- Technology installation information: What technology are your target clients using? How do those programs change their pain points or market needs? Most B2B databases won’t show you this information, but FHG has a massive base of technology installation details. By telling you what tech your prospects are using, we give you yet another leg up in the account-based marketing game.