10 Vital Stages of the Data Purchase & Email Marketing Process
If you aren’t already doing it, starting your email marketing journey can seem daunting. It’s difficult to know where to start. Let us simplify it for you by breaking down your B2B email marketing journey into 10 bitesize chunks. From buying B2B data, to creating cold emails to send. Let’s fill our pipelines and turn cold, unengaged leads into hot prospects and happy customers using our 10 Vital Stages of Data Purchase & Email Marketing.
Stage 1. Guide to buying B2B data
Think of your data as the foundation of building a house. You wouldn’t build your forever home on sloppy, unstable marshland so why treat your campaigns any differently. An excellent data provider will, in turn, supply high-quality leads to your sales and marketing team with fantastic insights enabling them to identify and target valuable prospects and market to them in a personalised way.
There are a few things to consider when buying data, so we’ve broken it down into 5 key questions you should be asking:
Do I need to buy a B2B data list?
Let us start with the basics. Is a data provider right for you? Whether you keep it in a spreadsheet (yikes!) or have the flashiest all-singing, all-dancing CRM out there, data gathering and maintenance is performed and necessary for every business. Collecting and managing this data in-house, without the help of a third party can be time-consuming, costly, and could leave your database at the mercy of human error. Choosing a data provider can offer you more time to do the important stuff. Generate you a truckload more leads. Keep you and your company GDPR compliant and keep your data up-to-date.
What does a data provider do?
A data provider can cover a whole range of different services. Their core values are CRM management, data cleansing and sales funnel enhancement but they umbrella out into so much more. Data providers have evolved quickly with the fast-paced business world. As needs have changed and grown, so have their services. From the early days of just selling contact details, the industry grew into something much bigger and now data providers sell full solutions equipping sales teams with the knowledge and means to connect with their target prospects.
Like any software or service, what works as a solution for one company, might not work for another. A data provider needs to be tailored to your specific requirements as a company, so choosing the right one is imperative to its success. These interchangeable factors boil down to which industry you work in, what type of data you require, how much you’re willing to spend, and which sector the provider specialises in.
Which data company will suit my business?
Every company is different and in turn, their goals and desired outcomes are different too. Each data provider comes with a specific specialty. There are a few things you should ask yourself in order to ascertain which data provider will suit your business’s needs.
Firstly, be clear and focused on your end goal. That doesn’t just mean the information you pass on to prospective suppliers, but ensure your colleagues are clear about what you’re setting out to do too. So, why are you looking to purchase data? Are you looking to enhance your pipeline with new leads and prospects? Are you having trouble maintaining the data you already have? Or do you have a specific new campaign you would like to start and need some assistance getting started? Whatever problem you wish to solve, ensure you communicate it clearly to your prospective data provider from the word go.
Do your research! We can give you all the hints and tips you like, but you have to do your homework and ask questions. Find out what add-ons a provider has on offer because they may not be what you need, but they might provide solutions to parts of your strategy you hadn’t even thought about. Visit review sites to see how their customer service fairs and make sure in the provider’s policy, they account for compensating for old or inaccurate data.
Can I send cold emails to my B2B email list?
In short – yes! You absolutely can send cold email campaigns to your carefully selected purchased data. Don’t leave all the work to your sales team, get your marketing team in amongst it too.
Don’t just take our word for it, listen to the DMA’s Director of Policy and Compliance, John Mitchison, discussing the legality of email purchased data using Legitimate Interest.
Spotler allows you to craft and send perfect campaigns to your purchased data, allowing you to warm-up your new leads by sending them useful content and eventually engaging them with relevant guides and whitepapers specifically related to their web activities.
We even give you hints and tips in your creative campaigns with our artificial intelligence tool to assist and accelerate your engagement rate. Resulting in your campaigns being as big of a success as your shiny new purchased data.
Stage 2: Get the most for your money when purchasing B2B data
Data is a key asset of any business. If you properly research suppliers and invest wisely, it can dramatically affect your company’s financial success and rate of growth.
However, if you’re not informed of the details or available options around your purchase, bad data can quickly turn into an expensive mistake.
Here’s our top tips to prevent your B2B data purchase coming back to bite you:
Write a clear and detailed data brief.
This may include specific geography, industry, contact information, fields such as job title, seniority, contact channel (post, phone, email), size of company, how many contacts per company and anything else to help specify the data selections to your target audience.
Every supplier should provide a detailed breakdown included in the count so you can select everything that is relevant.
Check your supplier understands your organisation and exactly what you are trying to achieve.
Are you wishing to update and extend in-house lists on a regular basis to ensure they are complete and accurate? Or do you need to rent a list for a one-off mailing for some quick results?
A reliable data provider will carefully review the needs of your business and create a contract that suits both your short term and long-term data objectives. Write a list of your requirements and communicate these to each potential supplier. Once they send you a contract, review it with care before signing to ensure their offer meets your needs.
Clarify which services your quote includes.
Check and double-check you understand exactly what you’re paying for. Suppliers frequently try to catch your attention by advertising a low cost per record. However, this usually only covers the “basic” package. Once a deal is done, the supplier can tack on additional charges for extra selects, fields, or users.
Read the fine print of your contract. There’s no such thing as a silly question so ask them! If something sounds too good to be true or isn’t completely clear, say so! Comb through your contract for any limitations or hidden costs such as data expirations, delivery/set up fees or minimum purchase requirements.
Hint: Suppliers are often more flexible when it comes to pricing with potential clients who they believe will become long-term customers. So, if you think you’ll be using this service again in the future, tell them!
Don’t buy more data than you need.
It makes no sense to spend money on purchasing data your company will never use. First of all, ask the data supplier whether they have a process for deduping their dataset against your existing customer/prospect list or a suppression file.
This process will show records, such as duplicates and incomplete fields, that are not worth your investment. This will often come at an additional cost but has the potential to save you precious time and money in the long run.
Verify the data provider’s customer service policies.
Reliable data providers may offer compensation at some degree for poor data that doesn’t match their accuracy and deliverability rates. Find out if the data you’re purchasing is covered by these guarantees and exactly what is required to prove a record is a duplicate, undeliverable or inaccurate.
Agree in advance on how you’ll be compensated.
Request a discount.
Discount packages come in many forms: volume of data, length of contract, upfront payment, new customer, bundled offers, reduced rates on new records after your first purchase etc. Also, check out what other product options are available – they may be willing to offer a free trial or package deal to win your business.
Buying data can be a minefield. Datasets sourced through high-quality providers get strong results in campaigns. Keep these tips in mind to get the most return from your data purchase.
Stage 3: Check how you process data. Do you need consent to email?
GDPR, a marketer’s worst nightmare. Data, the lifeblood of marketing. Without GDPR regulations, we’d be getting a few more winks sleep at night. Without data, we’d be standing on rooftops shouting into the wind. So how do you get the two to marry up? You want a wealth of comprehensive data, but you don’t want to be caught short by the ICO.
What laws are specific to your business?
How does GDPR, PECR and ePrivacy combine in practice? Under the GDPR umbrella, there is a specific regulation for electronic communications called PECR – Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulation. PECR is the UK’s interpretation of the ePrivacy directive which took to the floor early 2000s. It affects how we send communication by email, how we make calls and SMS’s. As well as all that, it looks at cookies too.
Who can I email?
You want to know what that means in terms of email and who we can and cannot send to. We cannot decipher this just by the format of the email. We can email to addresses which are actually a business, and by business, we mean a limited company or something along those lines. So just because someone has a gmail or outlook email address doesn’t mean they don’t own a limited company.
How does purchased data come into this?
Most importantly, is it OK to send to purchased data? Well in short, yes. In the case of B2B, there’s a loophole where you don’t need specific consent for both emails and SMS communications. In a B2B world you don’t need consent, you just have to ensure you’re targeting the right person within the organisation which is why it is so important to ensure your CRM has job titles connected to each individual. We call this legitimate interest. As well as ensuring the email is of interest to the person you’re emailing to, you must give them a clear opt-out.
Step 4: Get Personal with Personas
You might have hundreds of leads or even thousands, but who are you marketing to? Have you met them? No, we didn’t think so. That’s why you need a buyer persona to help you out. Figure out who you’re marketing to, and you automatically improve your marketing message. Below are 3 tips to create banging on-point B2B buyer personas. We even used these tips to create our own.
Imagine your ideal customer as an actual person
As a foundation for your personas, imagine what your perfect customer would really be like. What size is their company? What is their annual income? It might even be a good idea to create a simplified persona with just your preferences or killer values included just to compare to the clients you actually get.
Use this as a way of seeing who you’re targeting and what it is about them that makes them the ideal customer. Once you’ve got this prepared, it’s time to look at reality…
Reach out to current customers
Look in your CRM for trends and similarities between the customers you already have. You want to figure out what it is that brings the two of you together. Is there a regular stream of certain types of business? That might be important for your personas, especially if you have enough data to create more than one.
If you can reach out to your clients, do. See if they would be willing to answer some questions relating to business with you just to help you figure out where to go in the future. Some examples might be:
- What made you choose us over other companies? What made up your mind?
- What would you have liked to know in our early stages of communication?
- Are there any particularly memorable times that we contacted you? What makes them/that memorable? Was it good or bad?
- What is your favourite aspect of our product/service?
You want to get as much data as possible from these short questionnaires, then analyse the general input from customers.
Get help from contacts that unsubscribe
If your unsubscribes are cooperative, you should be able to get some help from them with your personas to know what to do – or not to do – in the future. On unsubscribing, ask your contacts why they don’t want further communications from you. Try to make at least a few of the questions open-ended so that you can get as individualised an answer as you can.
See what data you can find, thinking about what would be beneficial to know. Asking the right people, the right questions will tell you exactly what you need to know about your target audience & persona.
Step 5: Have you got the cracking content?
You’ve made the leap and bought your data. You’ve assessed and agreed upon WHO you want to sell to with your personas. Now’s the tricky bit. How do you get someone’s attention? We’ve pulled together some hints and tips on how to write a cold sales email.
Make it personal
Too many times we see salespeople copy and paste some generic email that marketing created in the hopes that it will get through to their prospect. But that isn’t going to stand out in a sea of the same generic messages. Tailor your email template to focus on the things you know your lead is interested in. From what they’ve looked at on your website to the content they’ve downloaded. Find the topic they are interested in and write them an email around that topic. THAT’S more likely to get their attention than a generic, “Hi, I’m so and so from some company you don’t want to talk to.”
“You and I both have an invested interest in [TOPIC].”
“I’d like to work with you on [TOPIC].”
“Could I spare some of your time to talk about your [TOPIC]?”
Keep your cold email short and sweet
Since when has an opening sentence that has gone on for three lines and talked all about you and your company kept anyone awake? Never. If you want to entice your prospect with your email, you need to keep it short and sweet. The higher-up they are in the company, the less time they will spend on your email. As a general rule: Directors respond best to one-line conversation starters.
“Lee, we need to talk about your [TOPIC] strategy.”
“Sam, I’d like to book a meeting with you about [TOPIC]. When would suit you?”
“Aaron, there’s more software around [TOPIC] I’d like to share with you. Are you interested?”
Intrigue them to get back in touch with you
Don’t explain everything in your email introduction. You want a reason for them to get back in touch with you, after all. Obviously, outline the basic reasons you would like to speak to them. You don’t want to be too vague and annoy them by making them try and interpret your email. But once you’ve got to the point, don’t continue rambling on in your email just to fill white space. Filling white space = making white noise.
As long as you keep your opening email line as brief and as personal as possible, you’ll grab their attention. If they then decide that you are worth their attention, they’ll consider the rest of your email or get back in contact with you.
Now while we’ve given you these tips, phone calls do convert more leads than emails, so you still need to work on getting past the gatekeeper. Or you can work on perfecting your perfect cold call voicemail. Whichever way you do it, you need to get past the first hurdle in the pipeline if you want to become a successful sales team.
Step 6: Find a Reputable Email Marketing Provider
It comes as no surprise that we love email marketing. It is one of the most efficient ways to get your message across on mass, build relationships with prospects and customers, and expand your outreach. Why not take it one step further? Having a marketing automation provider allows you to automate campaigns and tailor them specifically to your customer. Strengthening the bond between yourself and your prospect.
Cutting a long story short, email marketing should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. To execute this successfully, you’re going to want a provider who will successfully manage your data, integrate seamlessly into your CRM, and automate your campaigns to go out based on specific website behaviours. We’ve put together some important variables you should consider when wading through the various marketing automation solutions out there.
Email Marketing isn’t about using a “spray and pray” tactic. We don’t want to send out a huge batch of emails in the hope that one fish might bite. It’s about relationship building and communicating the human side of your business. After all, people buy from people! We can achieve this by using targeted, personalised content to entice your prospective client in. God forbid you’re still using an excel spreadsheet to house all your marketing lists and a mail merge to send out your message. You’re going to need something more reliable and effective.
When choosing your platform, these are three things you should consider…
As I said before if you’re still using an excel spreadsheet for your data you need to ditch it. Now. CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is your new best friend. Updating contact records manually and sending out emails is tedious and time-consuming, so you want a provider who integrates directly and seamlessly with your CRM (even if it’s bespoke or custom made). Having this integration also allows your marketing automation system to feed directly into your CRM ensuring your data is forever fresh and up to date.
What level of customer service will I get?
Getting started with email marketing can be daunting and every company has tailored needs. Research your companies and see what level of customer service other consumers have had. You want to ensure that when you hit a roadblock, there’ll be a real person on the end of the line to walk you through the fix.
Can I use this system for lead generation?
The most important consideration of them all. Many platforms, such as MailChimp have a clause in their terms and conditions which don’t allow you to market to cold data in response to data protection laws. If you’re caught doing so, firstly it’s illegal and Mailchimp will suspend your account. Ensure your provider allows you to send to cold, purchased data.
Step 7: Rotate Domains and Batch Send
Rotating domains is vital in the success of delivering your emails to cold, unengaged data. For example, at Spotler, we have several different domains that serve different purposes to ensure that we are still able to keep in contact with our existing, engaged customers. The end goal is to not get blacklisted and make sure you’re staying in your audience’s inbox.
How do we achieve this level of success? Firstly, start off with your sender score. ISPs judge your IP or domains on a sender score, which can be affected by whichever metrics they deem fit. The best advice we could give if you’re working with a new domain is to send small email campaigns to users you know will engage with you. Or if it is to cold data and the domain is new, make sure you batch send rather than sending all at once – you want to work up to a full send. Don’t go from sending to 500 contacts and then suddenly sending to 10,000 as you’ll be doing the equivalent of jumping up and down getting the attention of the ISPs and spam filters. The more they engage, the more trust you build with the ISP, and the more your score improves. You can then slowly increase the number of users you send to.
If you want to check your score per email, we would suggest using an inbox placement tool like Send Forensics or Return Path (Sender Score). However, there are three basics that you can cover without the need for technology:
- Keep your complaints low. Send to contacts who aren’t going to mark your emails as spam. That means writing relevant, useful, and informative emails that they will be interested in. Remember your personas!
- Format your emails correctly. Dodgy coding that won’t render properly will be picked up. Use Outlook-style emails – they perform so much better!
- Keep your bounce rate low. Cleanse your marketing lists to make sure you’re not getting too many hard bounces.
As marketers, we have several different email campaigns running at any one time. Your customer retention emails are landing in inboxes without any issues, but your emails to cold data are getting a few spam reports or maybe you are getting block by a certain spam filter. This could lead to a road-block issue if you only have 1 domain, stopping all your email campaigns performing smoothly and getting delivered or good inbox placement. If you have separate domains per mail stream/campaign type, even when your cold email stream is paralysed by inboxing issues, the rest of your programs will continue to reach the inbox.
What’s a batch send?
You have your new data in your database (or CRM hopefully!). You want to segment this data into different groups, based on their characteristics that are applicable to yours and their company goals. Batch sending is a more personalised approach and you’re more likely to be providing your audience with content they’ll be interested in, therefore will engage with leading to improving your sender score. See, it all links up somewhere!
The DMA found that 42% of businesses like yours have discovered at least six different segmented groups, allowing you to send out great marketing emails with content people love. And if they don’t love it? Segmenting your lists means you can look in depth at what works and what doesn’t for each group. This means you can adapt and improve your marketing on a case by case basis, making you a better marketer!
Step 8: What emails to send
You’ve got your data all tidily into your CRM, you’ve chosen your email service provider and you have a skeleton of content to work from. Let’s start with some basic automated email campaigns you can load into your ESP and start nurturing those cold leads into lovely warm leads.
Using cookies, you can see where your leads end up on your website, so use that information to your advantage. You can see what webpage they’ve been on or a specific resource they’ve downloaded. Use this knowledge to your advantage.
Which campaigns should I be using?
We have two campaigns at Spotler for following up on cold contacts. We have our “Drip Series” and our (self-named) “Injection of Love”.
So, what is a drip campaign? A drip campaign is a set of automated emails specifically sent to an audience following them completing a specific webpage action. For example, if a lead downloads a video resource on data or GDPR, they might be placed in a drip campaign of sharing relevant content on data purchase or GDPR regulations with the final email including a compelling CTA, call to action, to request a demo.
Be certain about your buyer’s journey
You need to get your head around a few things before deploying this campaign into your strategy.
What action did the audience take to find themselves in this campaign? i.e. how do you want this set of content-specific emails to be triggered? Be clear on your starting point.
How many touchpoints do you want? CoSchedule finds 60% of customers want to see an email from brands at least once a week but you shouldn’t exceed more than 5 emails a month.
What do I want the end goal from these drip campaigns – what action do I want my audience to complete? It might be requesting a demo or attending an event. Make sure your requested action is clear.
Know when to take someone out. There is nothing more embarrassing than someone requesting a demo on Monday then receiving an email to invite them to a demo on Wednesday. Set up a notification to remove people from the campaign when they have completed the action.
An injection of love goes a long way
Very similar to a drip series, the injection of love is a slightly more tailored experience. Here you must be more targeted (hence the injection of love).
You might have different series for different job functions, i.e. sales, marketing, and c-level. And rather than it being 1-2 emails there is a 5 or more-drip series all with the aim of ‘showing’ love, by being a bit more tailored to the recipient it is going to. The injection of love is also over a more concentrated time frame.
Step 9: Monitor Leads & Follow Up
It’s not enough to send one email to your purchased data list. You must follow up and nurture those leads to a point they’re ready to be sold to. The key is to monitor where each of your leads are in the buying journey. There are three stages of the buyer journey, awareness, consideration, and decision.
The first of these three stages, awareness, is when your lead shows interest in your product. They’ve made their way onto your website and they’re doing some education research to see if there is a solution out there to solve whatever problem they may be facing. With leads in this section of the funnel, we don’t like to bombard them with heavy, technical content. We entice them in with a light blog or a podcast, something that won’t scare them off too quickly.
The second stage is consideration. This is a particularly vital stage in the buyer’s journey. They’ve read some blogs circling a specific solution you provide. Be aware, you are not the only supplier they’re looking at. Have you ever made a purchasing decision without shopping around first? Here, we like to bring in Glynis Breakwell’s Psychology of Risk. Your buyer isn’t going make the choice to sign with you if they don’t have all the information to make a 100% informed decision. Follow up with them on a case study, or whitepaper and give them all the facts as to why they should be siding with you.
The third and final stage of the funnel, decision. You made it to the shortlist. Now you have one final push. Send leads at this stage scale tipping documents such as comparisons with competitors or offer them a special discount or deal.
How do we know what stage of the cycle our lead is in?
Website visitor tracking gives you the opportunity to lead score various pages on your website. At Spotler, we aim to call prospects once they have reached a chilli rating of 50 points showing they are a ‘hot’ lead. Now I know that some pages signify greater buying intent than others. That’s why we have created our own scoring system for each page type. For example, blogs score significantly lower than pricing or demo pages. Typically, our marketing qualified leads revisit Spotler between 5-12 times before they score above or around 50 points.
This all sounds like a lot of manual labour, right? Lucky for you, it’s not! Based off the above-mentioned page scoring, this can all be done using automated workflows and alerts. You’ll never miss an opportunity again! Strike while the iron is hot, they say. This level of automation is what makes us pioneers at what we do. GatorLeads allows you to create alerts when prospects visit certain pages but don’t fill in a form, allowing your sales team to catch what would have been missed business in the past. Because these alerts are triggered instantly following on from website activity, it ensures you can get into contact with your prospects soon after they have been on your site, meaning you are fresh in their minds.
Step 10: Measuring Success, UTM’s & Reporting
A lot of B2B marketers are still using open rates as one of the metrics to assess the success of their campaigns. If you are one of those, you might want to rethink your reporting strategy. Your C-Suite want to see what contribution to revenue you’re providing. What’s the best way around that?
Nowadays, as mentioned earlier, the majority of people own a smartphone. It is not uncommon for people to check their work emails on a mobile device. They even do it while sitting at their desk.
How does your device know you’ve opened an email?
Why is this important? Well, ESPs track openers by inserting a pixel in the body of the email. When recipients download images, the pixel is activated. That is standard across all the email platforms. So, if you read some of your emails in the preview panel, images won’t display. The ESPs will not be able to track that you read the email. If you are an iPhone or Mac user, there is something else to consider. IOS technology downloads images as soon as the message makes it to the inbox. All the emails you receive on any of those devices are always reported as open. Incredible, isn’t it? But this means you aren’t getting a genuine insight into who is opening and responding to your emails.
How about Click-Through Rates?
To assess the success of your campaigns, you should instead look at the clickthrough rate (CTR). This metric is much more accurate at telling you if someone reads your email. If they do, great! It means that the content was good. It does not mean that they are ready to buy, though.
Tracking activity beyond email
There are other advantages in getting a click, beyond understanding the engagement. If you are using marketing automation software, anyone who clicks will be cookied. It will allow you to track contacts every time they visit your website.
By tracking their website activity, you can understand what their interests are. You can also assign them a score to help your sales team filter the leads. This will give you a much better understanding of who is ready to buy once they’ve engaged with an email campaign.
If we can’t report on open rates and click-throughs, what are we going to report on? We want to prove we are adding value, therefore it is imperative that we have a defined set of KPI’s. When it comes to KPI’s I think we can all agree it’s pretty difficult to work out where the lead came from, was it the salesperson’s call? The email campaign which prompted the sale?
One way we get a handle on marketing’s contribution is using UTM’s from their first visit to the website.
What are Google UTM values?
So, let me acquaint you with the Google UTM values of “Campaign Name”, “Medium” and “Source”. These are the three obligatory “labels” required to deliver a coded URL that tracks which marketing campaign has brought that lead to your website.
The “Campaign Name” tag could be a product, promotional code or slogan you have created a campaign around and gives you a good idea on the topic that has interested your lead.
The “Medium” UTM tag tells you which particular medium your lead came from. For example, was it a blog, banner, email campaign…etc?
The “Source” tag tells you which channel drove traffic to your website. Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo, Newsletter_0602…you get the gist.
Below is what a URL with UTMs looks like:
The UTM makes the URL long, so from a common sense point of view, it is sensible to utilise a URL shortener like goo.gl or bit.ly to create a more outwardly normalised URL. This one leads to a UTM builder you can use: http://goo.gl/lt6841
So, set yourself this goal going forward. When you create all inbound links to your site make sure they carry a UTM value. This will help you measure the effectiveness and ROI of your marketing campaigns.
Now you have these UTMs, what can you do?
Rather than use your generic reporting from Google, now Google Analytics can give you a great correlation of how your mediums or campaigns have performed. What number of visitors came from your last email campaign? How does Twitter contrast with LinkedIn for inbound links and leads?
Significantly more important GatorLeads can give you a rundown of your hot leads, or better still clients WON by campaign name or advertising channel. This allows you to see and demonstrate the genuine quality you are creating from your marketing spend.
You cannot improve what you cannot measure. The tools to get an accurate measure of your marketing performance are available to you. Perhaps you should ask the question as to why you’re not doing this already before your boss does.
We believe in you…
Now we’ve done all we can. Told you all we know. It’s time to loosen the apron strings and for you to fly the nest to begin your email marketing journey. Buying B2B data and nurturing your leads can result in a wealth of success. If we can leave you with two pearls of wisdom, we hope you’ve taken away from this, it’s, do your research and segment and test EVERYTHING. They say the definition of insanity is duplicating processes repeatedly and expecting different results. Try something new and work from your results.
Maybe, you’ve realised this might all a little bit much for you to take on. That’s where we come in, see how our Marketing Automation platform can share your burden.