Who Wants to Waste Time or Money on Data? Not me.

November 18, 2014
In my last post, I discussed how building an ideal customer profile is the first step to successful inference marketing—using data from a variety of sources to learn about the customer without requiring him or her to fill out a form. In this post, I’ll go into a little more depth about why you should take the time to build an ideal customer profile and how to get it done.

Why Build an Ideal Customer Profile

By ideal customer profile, I’m not referring to creating a picture of your best customer. I’m talking about determining what customer data points are most important to collect in order to achieve your marketing and business goals. Instead of trying to perfectly complete every contact or account record, data should be fit for its intended purpose, such as more effectively segmenting your email lists or better customizing web, email or other content.  . Deciding up front what specific information you need about your customers and prospects allows you to prioritize your data acquisition activities, only buying or remediating the data that you really need. You should strive for a balance between what’s needed to improve marketing and sales effectiveness and the costs of acquiring, using, and maintaining additional data sources.
Who wants to waste time or money on data? Not me (and probably not you). Take the time to build an ideal profile so you don’t. 

How to Build an Ideal Customer Profile

Overall, it’s pretty simple:
  1. Audit what you have. Come up with an inventory of the different data points you currently collect for each profile.
  2. Determine if are there other data points that would allow you to create better segmentations for marketing and sales.
  3. Adjust for a region, country or segment. It’s no secret that data availability, depth and quality vary by geography. Additionally, data for larger companies is generally more complete and up-to-date than data for small and medium businesses.  Please be mindful of data usage regulations.
  4. Add the data points from steps one and two together to complete your ideal customer profile.
A common set of desirable data includes (but remember to keep in mind your specific objectives):Ideal Profile Visualization
  • Core Contact and Account Attributes: standardcontact profile (name, email, address, title, company) and account firmographics (company revenue, industry, location, number of employees) plus relevant account level transactional data
  • Extended Attributes: supplemental orderived data, such as installed base, wallet size, role, cross-channel shopping, white space, propensity or other modeled scores
  • Social Attributes: includes data on sentiment, interest and intent derived from social interactions or social networks; can be at the contact or account level
  • Behavioral Attributes: engagement activities that may include sites visited, content consumed, campaign response, events attended, etc. Much of this data will come from your own web analytics and response tracking tools, but there are external providers as well.
Sources for web and social data are becoming more available and easier to access, allowing you to build out your profiles. Well known providers of digital and social data include LeadspaceDataSiftWorkDigital, FullContact, Profound Networks, and Gnip. You can also obtain information on content consumption through companies such as Madison Logic. The company tracks and reports content use across a network of over 450 B2B publications. This type of information can be helpful at the account level and, on a permissioned basis, contact level to understand what topic or solution areas your prospects find interesting.

Need Some Proof?

One of our clients recently used this approach as part of a data remediation program. The result? They achieved an ROI of well over 500 times their investment in data. While results can vary, I am confident that this strategy works to deliver a better marketing ROI.

What Next?

Now that you have a template for your ideal customer profile, you need to collect the data to complete it. For suggestions on tactics for updating, appending and enriching your records, check out this white paper.