Not All Data Is Created Equally

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Brooks: We were putting a database together from three different silos in a [client's] organization. And there was a lot of pushback in the middle management. Top management understood that you needed this all together. And these three groups were sending out messages and direct mail sometimes to the same people, so it was kind of a mess. They really wanted to keep their territories, but top management got through that and we put the database together and it's become much more successful in terms of not wasting a lot of money sending things to the same people. So, in that case the inhibitor was middle management, who wanted to keep its territories.

Reinebach: I think the biggest inhibitor is the disruption to the workflow for the sales rep and the marketing team. What we're trying to do to mitigate that is give [salespeople] a seat at the table…and we're saying, “We've got a reporting tool set up now. You can look at the data across the company. We're going to spend a lot of time to get granular, and when you go to that conference and you want to approach X number of clients, we've done all the homework for you.” Then they come back, they say, “Wow, I really buy in to this. You know, I just made my life much more efficient and I got plenty of sales as a result of it.”

DMN: Email is a core data source for most businesses. What type of data do you extract from email interactions that you find most useful?

Levy: Recently we started doing something that was kind of shocking to me: We do a pop-up when coming to a site, and the first thing you ask for [is] an email. If you give [visitors] something like 10% off the next purchase, they'll actually participate. And we increasingly get 20 to 30% who do.

Grdodian: We recommend highly to our clients to have a pop-up requesting that individuals provide their email address. We take our data asset and combine it with those results and start to truly understand why our clients' prospects are responding. Email is the most precious commodity out there.

But once you have email and once you're deploying these messages, behavioral data is important. Understanding how your audience is interacting with your content or your information is how you'll more effectively target a specific audience. Behavioral activities are actionable triggers to take the next step and try to convert these eyeballs and the behaviors into new customers, using, for example, retargeting via email. So, it really starts with having an email address for that individual and communicating with them through email.

DMN: What about social media? How are you integrating that data and where would you like to be with it?

Anker: We're looking to ask, can we build our own social network within our application? So when you register to become a user, it may not be all about the transaction, it may be about, “Join this vibrant network of freight forwarders and people looking to ship cargo.” Can we have that conversation occur on our platform, gather that data ourselves, and learn who [participants] are and what are the commodities they ship? Let them provide us the data, knowing that it's helping them build their business while helping us understand who our customers are.

Kuman: Many people using Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and other social media sites are doing it because their competition is, not because they're really using it properly. I spoke with someone on the consumer marketing side who has an e-comm play, a big, well-known brand, and he talked about fans and followers. And I asked, “How's that working for you?” He said, “I love fans and followers, but I like customers better.”

Again, I think it's about flattening out all the data, and identifying what to keep and what to kill. What's of value and what's not of value? Or, what's about engagement and opportunity and what's noise? It takes time and requires technology and people who understand technology. And, yes, if the folks doing the selling in the organization [aren't] using the information, put that on the kill list with a question, or until it gets validated by three or four resources.

Grdodian: It's really about being engaged and encouraging that engagement. You want to create an area [online] for individuals to start communicating: “What do you think about this content?” And then get engagement from other people saying, “Oh, that's interesting. Well, what about this? Well, what about that?” There's more value from three individuals going back and forth with comments than there is [from] 500 people clicking the article.

Brooks: Having a lot of data on people doesn't help if we can't do something with it or we don't know what's important to them. Clients are also stretched, so they don't have time to do the things they want to do. They're all doing two or three people's jobs at this point. If there are places where they can get help with that, it's a very good thing.

Reinebach: All of our sales reps now use LinkedIn for Salesforce. But that's one of many tools out there. I'm not doing a commercial for that particular tool, but what's great about it is, when the reps are in Salesforce they can see that [LinkedIn] pop-up right there, they don't have to open another browser. And then they can actually augment that data while they're looking at that record.

DMN: So, it all comes back around to capturing the “right” data and learning from it?

Grdodian: We've touched on a lot of best practices and on what individuals and executives are doing for their firms. Having as much data as possible is a priority; as is maintaining relevance with your audience and optimizing every opportunity you have with a potential customer—and data analytics help you do that.

And quality data is important. If you don't know who your audience is, if you don't know who your customer is, how can you be relevant?

Basically, it's confirmed: It's critical to have business intelligence. Critical.

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