Maximizing the value of your database

Are you looking for new leads? Do you know what the average cost per lead is based on the prospect lifecycle? Are you hearing terms like MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) and SQL (Sales Qualified Leads)? Are you aligning data sources, such as Google Analytics and your CRM, to map out your prospect-to-customer journey? Are you scratching your head at the sheer scope?

We live in a sea of data. And as printers, you are in a very rare and (dare I say) enviable position, with the ability to develop and deliver customer services and solutions that are driven by these data points.

According to Gartner’s IT Glossary, marketing service providers (MSPs) supply professional services, system integration, creative services, third-party data, application service providers (ASP), and hosted solutions for marketing organizations. MSPs’ competencies include customer data integration (CDI), data quality and deduping, database marketing, prospecting, campaign management, marketing resource management (MRM), customer analytics, e-marketing and advertising. Competencies range from technology hosting to full business process outsourcing.

But what if you aren’t an MSP? What if you have no (current) plans to offer any of the services inherent to an MSP? Does that mean you’re off the hook in the new “data game”?

Face it: If you want to succeed today, it’s important to embrace the role that data now plays. Understanding and maximizing the role of data is a critical success factor. 

Whether it’s home-grown or an industry leader, your business has some sort of CRM (customer relationship management) solution to capture customer and prospect information. Your CRM is where you have the opportunity to record your customer’s prospect journey, and where marketing gleans the majority of the data necessary for successful campaign development. But no matter how simple or robust the CRM solution, it’s only as good as the data it contains. The more you can manage the flow of information, and the more you can learn from the data, the more it can be leveraged to impact the bottom line.

What are your sources of data?

Many companies leverage their website as a primary source of contact with new prospects. It’s where orders are placed, content is downloaded, and visitor information is captured. The journey typically begins with high-level, “short-form” sources of data (name, company name, email, etc.). As the prospect spends more time on your site, their journey from prospect to customer evolves.

But your website is only one source that captures profile data. There are many areas within an organization where data is captured, often in disparate databases. For example, data captured by your finance department, like contracts, SLA’s, current mailing address, etc., may be stored in your accounting system, which may or may not be tied to your CRM.

Where else within your company are you capturing relevant customer and prospect insights? Think about the entire customer journey and all the people they contact along the way.

Telemarketing/Inside Sales – Often referred to as “the front lines”

Sales/Business Development – Helping take the prospect over the finish line

Customer Support – They get to really know the customer post-purchase

Finance – The corporate gatekeepers (see example above)

Marketing – Helping along every step of the way.

Where are you storing the data?

How many databases are you maintaining? Do the leads captured through your website automatically feed into your CRM? How many potential record sources exist for each customer? Think beyond CRM and finance. Is information being tracked in spreadsheets? How about Outlook? Do you record customer birthdays? Contract signing anniversary dates?

How are you using the data?

What are your objectives? Are you looking to run a targeted marketing campaign to a key vertical market segment? Are you trying to determine the lifecycle of a lead? Or are you looking to manage sales targets?

Whether your data comes from external sources – like Google Analytics or a purchased, third-party list – or from various internal databases as described above, the sheer volume of information available can be daunting.

Look beyond how many visitors came to your site or which pages were most frequently visited. How will you map the website visit into the overall prospect-to-customer journey?

By learning how to best leverage your data for your own business, you can establish the pivot points identified by the data. From there, you can maximize the value of your database.

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Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print and has spent the last three decades helping companies maximize their marketing and communications efforts. Founder of Joanne Gore Communications, she helps companies tell their story to a new generation of print and business buyers. Email: joanne@joannegorecommunications.com Follow her on Twitter: @joannegore121