Your Marketing Database: 8 Tips to Power Your Sales Efforts

Most marketers know that having a database is important to their organization’s marketing efforts. But creating one, maintaining it and using it effectively are much easier said than done. To ensure you’re getting the most sales from your lead generation efforts, here are seven tactics every marketer should do right now with their marketing database…followed by one piece of advice on strategy.

  1. Profile your existing customers to understand exactly what a good customer is. This sounds simple, but many companies haven’t taken the time to do this. Your customer profile should include business demographics (or “work-o-graphics” as The Mx Group calls them).  SIC code, NAICs code, revenue, employee size, branches, decision maker and influencer titles, association memberships, trade show attendance and relevant publications are just some of the many data points that can help you understand your market segments. Create the foundation of your marketing database by mapping every lead against this profile.
  2. Every lead, from every source, should go into your marketing database. Storing all your leads in a central location allows you to truly segment and analyze opportunities. Don’t fall into the trap of having some leads go directly to the sales team, some to marketing and some to inside sales. Soon, you’ll lose track of how many leads you’ve gotten, where they went and what happened to them.
  3. Qualify every lead that comes in.  Not all leads are created equal, and understanding what is “sales-ready” versus long-term can keep the sales team focused on good opportunities instead of chasing every prospect that raises a hand. Qualification comes from having great landing pages where prospects answer several quick questions about their application, need and even budget. It can also come from a follow-up email, or a call after an inquiry to gather additional information.
  4. Have a clearly defined fulfillment process for each lead source. Don’t let leads sit. Determine whether e-fulfillment or print fulfillment is needed. What sales collateral should be included? Personalize it with the prospect’s name, reference their inquiry and provide the contact information for their local sales rep. And most importantly, define the time frame.
  5. Have a process to gather sales feedback on all leads. Work with your sales management team to set expectations for feedback on ALL leads. Determine what information is needed, when it’s expected and how. Mapping this out with your sales management team up front will ensure you can do a full ROI analysis on lead-generation campaigns, and focus your time and efforts on the most effective lead sources.
  6. Keep your marketing database clean. This is extremely important — as old and bad data can be costly for an organization.  Make sure the current information has been “cleaned” (standardized, de-duped, etc.) and checked against a current NCOA (National Change of Address) database. Any email bounces from contacts should also be noted in the database. Not only can you waste time and money sending communications to out-of-date contacts, but the data can skew your analysis of opportunities.
  7. Implement a nurturing program for long-term leads. Statistically, 45% of leads will purchase something within the next 12 to 18 months. Your sales team is rarely going to be able to make contact for that long (whether they mean to, should or are even required to). Use a combination of email, direct mail and telemarketing tactics to create ongoing touch points with prospects to make sure that when they are ready to purchase, your organization will be the one they turn to.

These 7 tips are focused on tactical efforts that need to happen in your marketing program. The eighth tip is a strategic one:  Every marketing  meeting your team has should include a  report on the state of the database. As you create your marketing goals and budgets, consider what needs to be done to develop the marketing database. When you regularly meet to develop ongoing tactics, talk about how to integrate this with the database. And as you review metrics and revise your efforts,  discuss the impact on the database:  leads added, sources, “sales-ready vs. long-term,” review of fulfillment packets, review of nurturing efforts and most important — a review of closed deals and the marketing tactics that contributed to them.

Implementing these database process elements into your marketing program will provide  benefits far beyond the initial effort put into developing them. Insights into new opportunities, reduced sales cycle times,  increased close ratios and more effective use of marketing dollars are all long-term benefits of a well-utilized marketing database.