Database optimisation for a resilient marketing function: a practical guide

Creating robust processes can sometimes feel like you are ‘over engineering’ your marketing. But, creating a step-by-step approach to building, maintaining, and enhancing your database, and then following through consistently with rigour and attention to detail, is what will get you where you need to be.

At MPG we approach database optimisation using a 5-step framework based on the widely used Database Lifecycle Management framework. Here we share MPG’s database development and optimisation processes, with a downloadable resource to use when growing your B2B marketing database.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF MPG’S DATABASE OPTIMISATION PROCESSES HERE

#1 Data Cleaning

Over time, data can become unusable and may need to be suppressed, refreshed, or removed from your database.

If your database needs a lot of work now, clean and enhance existing contacts via a batch process.  Then set up ongoing processes to regularly review and ensure good database hygiene at all times.

Research ‘email bounces’ for people who have left the business: for every contact that has left a company, you can obtain two new records – the replacement person and an updated record with new contact information for the original record. 

#2 Data Collection

When growing your database, it is important that the right types of data, both basic contact data (such as name, job title, company name, sector, company size) and enrichment data (advanced demographic data that allows for smart segmentation) are collected.

Data collection should be approached via three methods – ideally always running in parallel: 

  • Inbound lead generation via website lead generation forms should produce a steady trickle of relevant contacts that are highly engaged. Web forms are an excellent way to constantly grow contacts, as well as intelligence on your contacts’ interests and demographics. You need to have all other marketing channels performing well to push relevant new people to your website for this to work, especially social media, PPC, and advocacy – as these are the best ways to reach more of the right people currently not in your database.
  • New data acquisition through data research, either using your in-house database research team or a third-party specialist research agency, can generate higher volumes of new contacts more proactively. Although these people should be relevant, they will not be engaged. Adding new relevant contacts to your database through an iterative/batch process approach means you can start directly targeting the right people with engaging email campaigns. Drip feeding new batches of data into your database will ensure good email deliverability – avoiding the spam traps that look out for large new data sets being pushed into email campaigns. 
  • Data cleaning should be ongoing – researching contacts already on your database who have previously bounced or are no longer engaging. As mentioned in #1 Data Cleaning, this method allows you to collect both data for where the contact has moved to, as well as their replacement. 

The performance of newly acquired contacts should continually be assessed. Monitoring the conversion rates of researched data as well as new contacts acquired via inbound marketing, will mean you can adjust your marketing database growth approach in a responsive and intelligence-led manner. 

Database KPIs to consider include: 

  • Number of contacts and % database growth, ideally broken down in to prioritised data sets
  • Conversion rates – of web visitors to both leads and purchasers
  • Total revenue generated from newly acquired contacts
  • ROI in terms of revenue over cost = % age pay back

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF MPG’S DATABASE OPTIMISATION KPIS HERE

#3 Data Usage

Understanding how database contacts will be used by marketing is an important consideration when deciding what data to collect. 

Once a new person has been added to your database, you should send them an intro email to introduce your brand and provide an overview of your relevant products. As a first effort, a content-led email is a fantastic way to warm up new contacts as it is a much softer – and more welcome – approach than immediately sending them a pushier product or offer-led message. The focus should be on lead generation and the email should be positioned as an ‘invitation’. Depending on jurisdiction you may need to include some data protection information, e.g., how you are going to use their data going forward.

New contacts should then be fed into your marketing campaigns so will receive all future emails.

Deliverability of the above ‘intro emails’ should be monitored closely. If below 85%, there is something wrong with the data and the source of that batch should be re-examined. 

Another way to raise brand awareness with your new contacts is to upload them to a PPC channel for retargeting before they receive an intro email. This will warm them up and familiarise the contacts with the brand or product before they receive a direct communication.

#4 Data Storage

When it comes to marketing data, where and how it is stored and organised is incredibly important.

One key rule of thumb when considering your marketing database and tech stack supporting it, is that customer and prospect data should all be stored in one place – or at least in an integrated stack that allows you to manage data properly.

From a marketing perspective:

  • If data has multiple uses (e.g., email, direct mail, telesales), use a dedicated CRM system connected to the marketing automation platform. Salespeople should work with the data stored in the same CRM.
  • If data is only to be used for marketing email campaigns, a marketing automation platform can be sufficient to use on its own. 

The systems used, and how they are configured, will affect how the rest of the data lifecycle is managed. Your systems should include data redundancy strategies (such as backups) and data security strategies (such as storing data) in a way that it cannot be accidentally altered.

#5 Data Maintenance

Properly maintaining data is essential to ensuring that it remains accessible between different teams, and that it is always ready to be used for its intended purposes.

Data can be maintained through both automated and manual processes. Automated processes could include: 

  • automating population of company specific information, such as company type, for contacts where these values are already known, for existing contacts at the same company. 
  • automating the population of relevant segmentation properties based on engagement with your website content and email communications.

Automations should be used wherever possible, but some manual processes such as ensuring the whole business – especially salespeople – are always updating contacts (basic data like email addresses, and enriched data like job titles) as they communicate with customers are just as important. 

If you have robust processes in place to make sure each of these 5 steps is being covered consistently well, then your marketing function, and your organisation, will be well placed to support a resilient and growing business. 


Do you need help optimising, or growing your existing database? 

MPG’s database and martech experts know what it takes to develop and grow a database for high performance marketing that converts. We also know how to optimise existing databases on an ongoing basis in a practical, systematic way that keeps your database in ship shape for highly targeted campaigns.

Get in touch today to find out how MPG can help you attract and convert enough of the right customers to help your organisation be more resilient – and grow.


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4 Things marketers should focus on for international growth

As Chair of Renewd International, I recently had the privilege of chairing the first Renewd International virtual roundtable. These roundtables, as with other Renewd International events, are designed as a confidential space for senior executives from specialised media and events businesses to meet and share insights – with a focus on international growth strategies.

You can read the full ‘key takeaways article’ written by Renewd International Committee Member Carolyn Morgan here. Following Chatham House Rule, Carolyn has only directly referenced, with permission, the contribution of one of the speakers – Andrew Hatcher, Mentor in Residence, Cambridge Judge Business School. Andrew shared some very useful and relevant frameworks and models that apply to growing internationally. These got me thinking about how marketers need to support the international growth of a business. Four important things stood out:

#1 Marketers must have a deep understanding of the ‘What, Why, Who and How’ for an international growth strategy to work, with a focus on the ‘Why’ and the ‘Who’.

What? Who? How? Why?

Having marketers who understand your customers very well is business critical. Every person in your marketing team should know exactly WHO your customers are in terms of demographics, so they can identify and target the right people.

And then having ‘deep knowledge’ of what your customers value most about what you have to offer, and, therefore, WHY they buy from you when they do, is essential for every marketer. 

It is impossible for your marketers to get the right message to the right person at the right time (i.e. do effective marketing), if they don’t take full responsibility for always having a strong understanding of the WHO and the WHY – especially as these change as a business grows and enters new markets.

It often surprises me how many business leaders don’t hold their marketers accountable for gaining and deploying this knowledge in the right way – especially if they’re looking to grow internationally, and as the stakes get higher.

#2 Marketers need to understand how customers currently perceive your value proposition, and what value attributes customers see as priorities.

A good marketer can list the value attributes implicit in your value proposition. A great marketer knows that in order to do great marketing, customers need to be asked how they rate a range of value attributes. 

What is most important to the customer in what you do and how you do it? What is least important? And, as we well know, it’s all about perception..

How do your customers feel about you?

The only way to fully understand the value a customer places on specific attributes of your product, is by doing good customer research. The very best marketers I have ever worked with will push for and champion this kind of research – for very good reason. 

The Renewd International discussion group had some quite firm views on research methods that deliver the most valuable findings – included in the article

Having an optimised martech stack, will also provide you with analytics and behavioural data that should give you some valuable customer insight as you see how customers are engaging with your products (the beauty of digital!). A good marketer gets this and makes it happen.

Using findings from your customer research, along with behaviours visible with a good martech stack and data setup, will enable your marketers to not only target the right people, but also develop a very effective marketing messaging strategy to engage them well. 

When growing internationally, customer insight is especially important as new customers in new markets may well value different things and behave differently to your more traditional customers.

#3 The best marketers know how to leverage your existing value proposition and existing market presence to build ‘growth marketing’ strategies.

There are several ways a product/brand can grow, and leveraging what you already have in place is often the smartest move.

Growth choices

Marketers who can successfully leverage strong engagement and support from existing customers to gain new customers in new markets are winning! 

A key success factor for marketers is being able to capture customer data in a marketing database that makes their marketing work better over time. 

See the recent MPG Insights article on how a well-structured, growing database supports a resilient and growing business.

#4 Marketing leaders, and business leaders, know that good marketing skills are valuable and in short supply. A progressive approach to building a hybrid marketing function can support international growth.

When launching new or existing value propositions into new markets, the question is often raised about whether or not to hire people based in those markets, particularly sales and marketing people. The normalisation of remote working through the global pandemic has changed the game, meaning it doesn’t really matter where your marketers are based. The most important thing is to have the right marketing skills and resources applied to your growth opportunity.

And building a high-performance marketing function doesn’t mean that you need to increase your head count or overheads. We’ve seen a hybrid approach to strategically building a high performance marketing function working well for many organisations, all over the world. 

A hybrid approach, executed in the right way and with the right partners, means that you can focus on maintaining a ‘minimum viable’ internal resource while having the option to ramp marketing activity up and down, and adjust expertise plugged in to your marketing, as needed – with carefully selected, well embedded and well supported external partners . This approach allows for a much greater focus on the ‘science’ elements of marketing, such as marketing strategy development, data, and analytics – which are absolutely critical when enabling any kind of growth, and even more important when ‘future proofing’ international growth initiatives. 

At MPG we believe the marketing function should be held accountable for directly supporting a business strategy, and that a strong investment in marketing is essential for growth. If your strategy is focused on international growth, and you have the best marketing skills integrated into your planning and execution, you’re more likely to get a great return on your international growth investment!

If you are a senior executive in a specialised media/events business, with an interest in international growth strategies, make sure you join Renewd and sign up to our next Renewd International virtual roundtable.

 


 

Working closely with our internal team, MPG developed a strong marketing strategy focused on achieving revenue growth for a key product in our portfolio – including recommendations for a virtual offering. We were impressed by the science and rigour they put into the process. I would recommend MPG as a good strategic marketing partner for a B2B brand.

Anna Knight , VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 


Do you need help defining a marketing strategy that drives growth and delivers strong ROI?

MPG’s marketing strategists have a wealth of experience and expertise in developing high impact marketing strategies for B2B brands. Get in touch to find out how we can help you build a robust marketing strategy that drives revenue growth and consistently delivers against business objectives.

FIND OUT MORE


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Building a resilient marketing function: do it with data

In our most recent MPG Insights article, we covered why having a high-performance marketing website is so essential to success when it comes to building resilience into your marketing function.

Driving traffic to your website, and engaging your potential customers to ‘pay you with their data’ and make purchases online is just the first step. If you want to be a resilient and growing business, a well structured database that is diligently maintained, and continually growing with relevant contacts is vital to success. 

Your database should be part of a finely tuned ecosystem, integrating with your website and other systems where data is collected, to allow data to flow automatically, and be stored in a way that makes it easy to use in impactful marketing. 

One of the most common mistakes we see when it comes to data, is having lots of the wrong data. The quality of the contact data you collect and store is as important, if not more important, than the volume. 

A database consisting of exactly the right contacts, organised well, allows you to target the right people, at the right time, with the right message. The following basic demographic data and enrichment data needs to be held with each contact record for this to work: 

  • Basic demographic data – this includes data points that you would find on a company website or on LinkedIn such as name, job title, company name, sector, company size (revenue and/or headcount) and company location (country, and also state if in US at a minimum to be compliant with data privacy/protection laws, if nothing else).
  • Enrichment data – this is the data that is going to allow for smart segmentation and includes advanced demographics such as job function (this is different to job title, and is especially important where job titles don’t provide you with a true understanding of the ‘jobs to be done’ by that person), as well as behavioural data points that indicate interest (e.g. attending a webinar, downloading a particular piece of content, visiting a certain web page etc)

So, how does having a strong database help you have a more resilient business? A strong, well organised, database allows you to: 

#1 Grow multiple revenue streams

By being able to identify and target specific market segments, you can quickly create and successfully take to market new products such as webinars, round-tables, memberships, reports and digital products.

#2 Drive higher, more consistent engagement

With a well-segmented database, you can ensure that your marketing communications are highly relevant to the people receiving them, and therefore have maximum impact. High relevance = stronger and more consistent engagement over time. 

#3 Make smarter investments when growing your database

A well-structured database, with robust processes in place, helps provide a clear picture of which potential customers you already have for the target segments you can reach. This means you can quickly and efficiently identify where the gaps are – so that you can take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

If your database doesn’t have enough relevant contacts, and if it isn’t continually being monitored, updated and refreshed, your data will quickly become fatigued, and your marketing won’t have the impact that a growing business needs.

 


 

Next week we’ll share a practical guide to structuring, growing, and maintaining a database that delivers consistent revenue and drive growth for your business. Subscribe to MPG Insights to get notified when the next article is published. 

And in the meantime, if you’d like to speak to MPG about how to optimise or strategically grow your database, please get in touch. Team MPG includes database and martech specialists who have a deep understanding of B2B media/events business models and marketing, and can help you acquire the right quality and volumes of data to achieve your commercial objectives. Read more about MPG’s database development and optimisation services.

 


 

I cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!

Toby Daniels Co-Founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media (acquired by Adweek)

 


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Building a high-performance website for a resilient marketing function: a practical guide

In the last MPG Insights article, we covered the role your marketing website plays in ensuring you have a resilient marketing function – and therefore a resilient business. This week, we’re sharing a practical guide to building a high-performance website.

Helen Coetzee Quote

Here are our recommendations for following a common-sense, practical and systematic approach to building and maintaining a website that will deliver strong marketing results, and strengthen your business:

#1 Process, process, process

We can’t emphasise enough how important process is – in every area of marketing. If you follow the right process, you’ll get good results.

Mapping and following processes can sometimes feel tedious, but creating a step-by-step approach to building, maintaining and enhancing your website, and then following through consistently with rigour and attention to detail, is what will get you where you need to be.

Like so many necessary things, having a high-performance website is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration!

Here we share MPG’s step-by-step processes focused on ensuring you get the right website built in the first place, with a downloadable resource of the processes that Team MPG has used time and time again, for consistently good results.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE STEP-BY-STEP PROCESSES

Once you have the right website, built in the right way, including the customer journeys and functionality your customers and your team needs, frequent website reviews and ongoing optimisation should be baked into your ongoing marketing performance review and marketing channel optimisation procedures.

This will rely on
(1) Google Analytics, or a similar tool – set up in the right way
(2) A marketing performance dashboard – which we recommend you build in Google Data Studio

 

#2 Optimising for conversions

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) isn’t only needed on your web pages focused on registrations, subscriptions and lead capture. Here are the four main areas of your website where CRO plays a very important role:

(1) Your homepage

This is where you make your first impression with many of your visitors and should clearly articulate your value proposition. Your unique selling point (USP) and value-focused benefits for your customers need to be very clearly and simply laid out high up on this page.

Your homepage should also include clear signposting to further content and information to keep your web visitors clicking deeper into your site, including prominent CTAs pointing to conversion-focused pages e.g. Subscribe Today, Book Now, Download Brochure etc.

(2) Content pages

Content pages should also be focused on conversions by pointing visitors to:
(a) Lead generation forms for downloadable sales materials e.g. Download Marketing Solutions Prospectus
(b) Lead generation forms to access premium, gated content e.g. Request a Demo
(c) Subscriber acquisition forms (free subscriptions) – where your audience can volunteer their data to have free or sample content emailed to them via a newsletter, or other types of email updates.

(3) Pages displaying your ‘packages and pricing’

Focus on simplifying the process for your user to understand what’s on offer and choose the best option for them. You need to make it easy for them to buy from you!

If there are different categories of purchasers with different prices e.g. for events you may charge vendors more to attend events, make sure you display the prices clearly.

And remember to signpost web visitors from this page to the landing pages dedicated to conversions and including forms…see next point.

(4) Landing pages dedicated to conversions i.e. with forms

These are the pages that need the most attention for CRO and where you should focus your testing efforts. Include eye catching, brand-enhancing visuals and engaging copy that compels the user to complete the form, highlighting the benefits to them of taking the time to complete the form and giving you their data (What’s in it for them to complete the form? What will they get?).

Avoid lengthy forms that request unnecessary information, or requesting the same information multiple times.

 

#3 Helping potential customers find your website

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an ongoing process to ensure your site is always ranking well for the keywords that are most relevant to your audience and product.

SEO is influenced by a number of factors like content, time on site, pages visited and device optimisation. Generally speaking, a good website means good SEO.  Here are some of the key components of the ‘good website’ as far as Google is concerned.

(1) Content, and UX around your content

The accuracy and relevance of your content, frequency of updates, how well your content is tagged, and how seamlessly it aligns to what a visitor is expecting to see (i.e. customer experience), all impact your SEO.

When producing content for your audience, you should always have top of mind both the customer needs and the objective of the content. And then you need to ensure that your marketing campaigns make the most of the content and the overall customer journey you have built.

(2) Technical set up and performance

You need to continually review the technical performance of your site. There are many tools out there, such as Lighthouse, which are an easy way to assess this aspect of your site.

Here are some of the key things to look out for that will impact technical performance:

  • Images and videos: search engines can’t ‘see’ what an image contains, so make sure that all images on your site contain alt text and captions. It is important to bear in mind that images and videos can sometimes have a negative effect on your SEO – especially when video and image files are large and take a long time to load, or when they are low quality.
  • Mobile responsiveness: if your websites are difficult to read and use on a mobile phone, your SEO will definitely be badly affected. Always consider all elements as they appear on a mobile, such as navigation, size of font, length of text, and usability of forms. Getting this right is a combination of good digital design, good functionality and good front end development.
  • Navigation: specifically for SEO, you need to consider how search engines’ bots crawling your website to create their rankings ‘understand’ what your site is all about. To make this work well, include keywords in your navigation elements such a URLs for specific pages, menu items, CTAs and headings.

SEO covers a lot more than what we have shared here, but what we’ve covered should help you get the most important ‘fundamentals’ on place!

(3) Back-links (or links from other websites to yours) are a sure-fire way of increasing your ranking – as long as they are linking from relevant sites. That’s because Google considers relevant back-links to be like positive recommendations to your website. Try to encourage advocates such as event speakers and sponsors, authors of articles you publish and partners to add links to your event on their websites, wherever appropriate.

 

#4 Creating a good customer experience on your website

User experience (UX) of your website will impact your marketing performance, and therefore your business resilience and performance.

The more favourable an interaction your potential user has with your site, the more likely they are to purchase from you and also refer your products to others. The key elements to be mindful of in creating a positive customer experience are:

  • Navigation: the age old adage, ‘don’t make me think’ is well known in the world of UX. Your website user should be able to very quickly and easily find exactly what they are looking for on your site, with minimal effort.
  • Design: when we talk about design, we are not just talking about having lovely imagery on your site. Good site design also includes fonts, colours and imagery that are consistent with your brand guidelines, are visually pleasing in how images are combined with text, and contribute to telling a story that will lead them down the path to conversion.
  • Customer journey: mapping out the customer journeys (the paths users take through your website content) is essential in creating a site that converts. Always consider how different entry points affect the experience. As other marketing channels are pushing users directly to specific pages on your website, it is important to consider the full customer journey including all their touch points with your brand, even before they hit your site.

If you get all of these things done consistently well, your marketing function – and your organisation – will be more resilient!


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