Where does your data come from?

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When Smart Insights: Managing Digital marketing 2015 survey asked for marketer’s Top 3 internal marketing priorities, 61% stated Data Acquisition as one of the three.

Data is meant to be one of the key assets of an organisation, but more often than not, the quality leaves a lot to be desired.  Even information on existing customers can be patchy and incomplete and that’s the part that we should have good control over.  Good procedures and well integrated systems should help to ensure that customer intelligence is captured and effectively recorded to be of value in future.

Good data about prospects is harder to obtain.  Bought-in lists have their place as a starting point for outbound campaigning, but their shelf life is short and the accuracy of the data can be poor.

Far better to build “opt in” data based on prospects proactively engaging over a period of time.  Gated content is often a first step, with a simple form to collect the most basic of details such as name, company and email address.  Over a period of time and multiple engagements, incremental details can be supplemented by further judiciously presented forms.

However, this can take time and relies on sophisticated marketing tools like automation and alignment to a CRM database.  A faster route to a lot of detail is to run a survey.  Primary research gathers information which you can turn into IP and use to create new content.  It can also be used to qualify a prospect in terms of their suitability for your product/solution and in terms of their position in the sales cycle.

Exchanging data for value

Why should your target prospects complete your survey?  Because you are offering them something they will value in exchange.  You could offer them a chance to win something, which works well in a business-to-consumer scenario.  In a business to business setting, offering contributors an expert opinion on their situation is more appropriate– how it compares against best practice or what investment to prioritize next, for example.  In this case, there is a fair value exchange and modern, savvy purchase researchers will accept that this is what’s happening when they add their contact details to the survey before submitting.

The more we know about a prospect, the better we can tailor our offering to them.  By using a survey to understand the prospect, you now have the intelligence you need to tailor your value proposition specifically to them.  Now, you don’t need to rely on them wading through your website to find the most appropriate piece of content for them – you can make sure it’s put right in front of them and then you can nurture and follow it up in the most appropriate way for your solution and their position on the buyer journey.

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