My Data Is Sexier Than Your App


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I hear a rumble and it’s not the earthquake that hit the San Francisco Bay Area last week.  It’s a market shifting; one of those “who moved the cheese” kind of rumbles.

Marketers are challenged in achieving full customer lifecycle visibility and understanding how data science can drive more effective customer engagement and conversion.  So they invested in technology, much of it on a “leap of faith”, believing that the next application or new ‘cool’ technology will deliver higher quality revenue and better line-of-sight.

Marketers being bullish about technology resulted in the infamous 1,876+ vendors graphic.  The MarTech space has begun to consolidate.

The day of reckoning is upon MarTech vendors as companies take a hard look at the real ROI.  It’s not about nurture ads, retargeting, or predictive analytics in and of themselves.  Instead, marketers must prove to their CEOs and Boards ROI – how much revenue came or how faster the sales cycle is from the technology.  If the investment can’t be tied back to quantifiable revenue the odds are high that the particular Cloud application will not be renewed.

Demonstrable ROI isn’t the only thing driving consolidation. Managing four to ten or more marketing applications with varying degrees of integration is a nightmare and expensive.  I have one client that uses Silverpop and NetSuite, one ‘talks’ to the other but not the other way. Marketing technologists, in- or outsourced, can be expensive. There has to be a better way and marketers are increasingly demanding that their table stake applications be on one platform.

How the MarTech market consolidates and who the winners and losers will be remains to be seen. “Nurture, retargeting, predictive analytics, CRM, contact data, dialers, etc. really need to be all under one roof,” shares Henry Schuck, CEO of DiscoverOrg. “Predictive analytics is great but just knowing who the next likely buyer is doesn’t help if marketers can’t call them, email them, or put ads in front of them. Dialers are great, but not having phone numbers to call makes them fairly useless.”

Schuck cites examples of the type of consolidation that marketers are looking as Salesforce’s acquisitions of ExactTarget and Pardot which bring Marketing Automation under the CRM Umbrella or Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua and Blue Kai which aim to do the same.

In the midst of the debate about marketing technology is a growing voice about data.  Schuck shares that “without data you’re dead in the water.” Everything hinges on the QUALITY of data; it is food for MarTech applications. The cornerstone of best-in-class marketing organizations is accurate contact data and the prime source of value in the marketing technology stack.

How did data become unsexy?

Decades ago, long before the Internet, data used to be very sexy. It was the lifeblood of marketing. Every marketer knew that if the data they were using for direct mail, events and outbound calling was bad, there was no place to hide.  It was obvious.  Back in those days, due diligence on database companies or list providers was intense – how frequently were the contacts called and information verified, what were the data quality processes, how was the data maintained, etc.

The king of database companies was a La Jolla, California-based organization called Computer Intelligence (not the current company with the same name).  The depth and accuracy of their account and contact profiles was unrivaled. How did data lose its sex appeal?

“We got drunk on social media and high on content creation,” believes Schuck. “Marketers bought into the belief Hubspot was preaching that inbound will drive all the leads you need.  Interesting that Hubspot has an outbound sales team to generate leads.”

The days of cold call being dead and replaced by social media are over. Ironically, the value of data as core to the ability to engage prospects and customers never went away; it just slipped from the limelight.  It’s back with marketers re-recognizing that high quality data is key to their success.

The door has opened for companies like Avention, RingLead and DiscoverOrg to disrupt legacy companies like Dun & Bradstreet and Hoovers who have not changed their methods.

“It’s almost as though many marketers gave up on the concept that data could actually be accurate or good, shared Schuck. “But newer technologies and companies are proving that good data is not unobtainable”

Avention and InsideView gather intelligence on accounts and use technology to gather, aggregate and cleanse data. These companies are layering multiple data sources together to provide near real time insights into buyer intent. Bombora is a rising backend data source because they focus on algorithm data consumption.  Just giving you the fact that an account is doing research on a specific topic – is a good trigger for action.

Knowledge of action taken is gold.  For marketers and sales reps accuracy is paramount to action that converts. DiscoverOrg believes that you still need a human to interact with database contacts to have truly accurate data and be able to leverage Bombora to the next level.

Selecting the right data source still comes down to doing due diligence.  Schuck’s advice to marketers is to:

  • Track everything,
  • Know exactly the revenue realized from every tool and data purchase investment,
  • Invest only in those that result in measurable revenue,
  • Set benchmarks for each tool before making the purchase and measure it annually.
  • Keep all of your data fresh and in sync.
  • Be deliberate about how you keep your data current, clean and truly sales ready in your CRM and Marketing Automation systems.

Not all lists are equal and the best marketers track their data source performance in terms of ROI and pipeline. DiscoverOrg works with customers to track the ROI of their lead source as part of the customer onboarding process.  It’s all part of being in a valued relationship and making data sexy again.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christine Crandell
An accomplished and passionate leader, Christine Crandell has over 20 years strategy and marketing experience in enterprise technology. An expert in defining, implementing and sustaining transformative strategy, Christine is a serial CMO and has served as CEO, COO, and board of director advisor to dozens of early and growth stage private and public companies.


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