How To Realize The Promise Of Big Data

Since the turn of the century, emerging digital marketing channels have ushered in more opportunities for customer and prospect engagement. In most cases, a company website is where the majority of these interactions occur, but what about an email strategy? Third-party advertising campaigns? Social media channels?

In a perfect world, these channels work in cohesion to effortlessly deliver personalized value propositions based on user behavior. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and marketers are struggling to develop an omnichannel marketing strategy that provides meaningful customer experiences and supports the sales team.

Enter data.

For various reasons, a large number of organizations still limit their data-driven marketing initiatives to the traditional use case: They collect, organize, and dig for insights that lead to better results, whether it be analyzing a campaign or a channel. Rinse and repeat. While this is certainly a worthwhile venture, leaning on retroactive analysis to make incremental improvements is just the tip of the iceberg for data’s potential impact on marketing strategy.

Today’s marketer should pair this process with other data-driven marketing tactics that offer real-time personalization to customers and prospects and automatically identify more opportunities to increase ROI.

The payoff? If implemented properly, organizations can create a consistent digital ecosystem that better streamlines the customer experience, improves sales and marketing alignment, and, most importantly, accelerates company growth and profitability.

Let’s go over the prerequisites.

My company, ZoomInfo, and Ascend2 recently conducted a study in which successful data-driven marketers said their top objective is “personalizing the customer experience.” Incongruently, the top challenge cited was “improving dating quality.” While neither finding is particularly eye-opening, they reaffirm the epidemic known as data erosion and its impact on marketing.

Consequently, maintaining CRM data requires a company to augment its database with a business-intelligence provider’s tools to protect their marketing initiatives. This is a foundation most marketers already have; in our study, 62% of marketers said they cleanse their data at least once a month.

But coverage isn’t all about “marketing insurance.” Believe it or not, data can lead to exciting opportunities to drive real-time and future success–as long as it’s accessible.

Respondents to our study listed “integrating data across platforms” as the second biggest challenge to achieving data-driven marketing success in 2016. Again, this is not a revelation. Disparate software suites very rarely play well with one another. A data point in a company’s email service provider may not speak the same language as the content management system powering its website.

To take advantage of data’s potential outside cleansing a CRM, marketing professionals should look for how flexible business-intelligence vendors are regarding accessibility. This is critical because having all prospect and account information at your fingertips offers opportunities to optimize results in two areas:

•  Lead generation: Best-in-class business-intelligence vendors can integrate their data coverage into marketing automation software, allowing marketing teams to reduce the fields required in Web forms to just one, for an email address. The rest of the information can be autofilled into your CRM system.

• Customer experience: Not only will this capability dramatically increase conversion rates, but organizations also can tailor follow-up messaging based on the converted lead’s details regarding demographics (management level, job function, etc.) and firmographics (company size, revenue, etc.) –all without ever having to ask for the lead’s information.

So much of data-driven marketing hinges on properly repackaging information into digestible insights about behavior that tell marketers who a lead is, what piece of content the person engaged with, and whether sales believed the lead was qualified enough to move down the funnel.

From a practical point of view, the last KPI–qualification–is the most important success indicator, the entire end game. And, yet, with so many other puzzle pieces to manage–pairing the right channel with the right offering, copy, design, CTA–the “audience” feels ancillary, an element out of marketers’ control.

Here’s the rub: With the right tools and strategies, organizations can improve sales and marketing alignment by extending campaigns to only qualified audiences.


It starts with the first two requirements, coverage and accessibility. With adequate coverage, a business-intelligence provider can automatically identify contacts who match a company’s buyer personas on an ongoing basis. Even better, with flexible accessibility, these new contacts can be moved directly into your marketing automation software.

This isn’t just about scale. It’s about relevant scale–a feat that helps marketers get more out of their campaigns, while sending along converted leads for the sales team to pursue.

None of this is to say that data is an omnipotent panacea that heals all the challenges marketing professionals face. But with so many tools and the scope of information available, its promise is not hard to achieve. Marketers just need to use the data differently.