Leverage accurate titles for segmentation and messaging

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Steve Juedes
Steve Juedes

Many b-to-b marketers possess more than 10,000 professional titles in their raw lead data. This number is magnified because of abbreviations, truncations and a lack of standardization (e.g., biz dev vs. business development, sr. manager vs. Senior product manager).


This data element is found in almost all b-to-b databases yet it is neglected, or in the least, underused. The use of b-to-b titles in segmentation and messaging can prove fruitful, if handled correctly. Unfortunately, most b-to-b marketers do not apply well-thought-out data standards to capture this key data element, making it more of a hindrance than an asset.


Try these five title standardization steps to clean up your own b-to-b database.


  • Develop "title" and "function" standards that truly reflect the types of titles and functional areas in an organization that recommend, influence and make the decision to buy your product or service.

  • Create standard title level groups and standard functional areas from your current customer or client data set after reviewing distribution reports that examine the title field. This step should be completed and audited before any drop-down menus are developed for Web entry or CSR use.

  • Do not try to classify "outlier" titles. It is OK to have 15% of your file classified as "other." For some clients with a large number of customers in healthcare, higher-education or government, a special set of industry-specific title groups will need to be created that are outside of the more typical corporate titles. International titles also require special handling.

  • Run titles through a title standardization or coding program to reduce truncations and abbreviations. There are a number of good data providers that can help do this.


Once these steps are completed, you will be able to distill thousands of lines of titles into around 30 logical title level groups and about the same number of functional areas. The data is now manageable from a valid segmentation perspective. 


Title level and functional area groups are now ready to be linked within your database with product codes and service types, as well as with firmographic information to create sophisticated marketing options that will provide new analytical insights and messaging opportunities. 


Relevant segmentation and messaging may now be tailored for those that approve, influence or are the end users of your product or service.



Steve Juedes is president of Direct Hit Marketing. Reach him at stevej@directhitmarketing.com.

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