For B2B Marketers, Contacts are the Center of the Big Data Universe

Word Cloud "Big Data"The following is an exclusive guest contributed post to MMW from John Arnold, the VP of Marketing at FullContact and a data-driven marketing enthusiast.

Now that there are more connected devices than humans, everyone seems to expect growing piles of data to translate into growing piles of money, as if there is a direct correlation. It’s not too far off base to expect higher marketing ROI if collecting more data can help discover what your B2B prospects do, what they like, and what they think. But, that’s just squeezing the same lemons to get more of the same juice. If you really want to turn more piles of data into piles of money, you need to collect and use social, demographic, and firmographic contact data so you know who your B2B prospects are, who else they know, and how they interact and share information in their extended networks.

Knowing Who Your B2B Prospects Are

Start the process of knowing who your prospects are as early as possible in every customer journey. Knowing more about who your prospects are means turning the partial contact information you collect into a full contact profile for every prospect. If you use content marketing to collect email addresses or social profile IDs, match the email addresses and social IDs to publicly available social profile and demographic information to enrich your contact data with insights such as age, gender, geography, and social interests.

Then, use your enriched contact information to inform your personas and create targeted messaging. For example, the text in social bios can act as keywords to help you understand how your prospects see themselves so you can target them with messaging they feel speaks to them.

Social profile information also allows you to create more detailed lookalike audiences for advertising on social sites, and gives you the ability to segment email lists and other direct marketing programs before waiting for user activity or A/B testing to tell you what’s interesting to them.

Knowing Who Your B2B Prospects Know

In order to grow awareness, your marketing needs to reach into the extended networks of your prospects and customers. But, don’t assume every prospect or customer is a good target for shared media campaigns. Match your customer and prospect database to social follower information so you know who your influencers are and how many people they can reach for you.

You need to know how many followers your prospects and customers have and also how many people they are following. Use the number of followers to gauge influencer status so you can focus your shared media campaigns on the people who have the most reach.

Knowing How Your B2B Prospects Share Information in Extended Networks

There are over 100 prominent social media sites that B2B prospects engage with regularly. Matching contact data to social network connections and interests by topic helps you identify the media and messaging that suits your audience the best. For example, there are professional, personal, dating, blogging, entertainment, and travel networks. If a segment of your audience is highly active on Pinterest but not on LinkedIn, promoting an interesting series of images to that segment makes more sense than promoting a white paper or blog post.

Using publicly available contact information for targeted marketing will be table stakes for B2B marketers in the near future. But, make sure your marketing programs take consumer sentiment and privacy into consideration so you don’t become a creepy marketer. For the best results, work with reputable data vendors with high ethical standards, security protocols, and privacy policies so you treat your prospects and customers the way they want to be treated and your employees can be awesome with people.