Source, Campaign and Capture: A Data Validation Story

From the outside, many people think that marketing is about brand, messaging and pretty pictures – but those with a deeper understanding know that that is only half of the picture. From the inside, marketing is also about traffic, audience, metrics, contact data quality and much more.

How Data Quality Impacts Marketing and Sales

It is also critically important to understand how the quality and accuracy of your leads and customer data affect your marketing and sales efforts. These impacts can be obvious. For example, you have trouble reaching a lead because their contact information is incorrect. To the more esoteric, where you start to see increased friction between your Marketing and Sales teams due to poor lead quality and it starts to impact talent retention.

To help better illustrate this, I would like to follow a simple lead/customer path and highlight the touchpoints where data quality can impact a campaign’s performance and sales conversion.

Storytelling and Data Quality

I approach marketing as a storyteller. My goal is to communicate a great story to our prospects that touch on their needs and pain points, show an understanding of the impact these have on their business and then offer them clear solutions. I also want to tell a compelling and insightful story about the lead to our Sales team, so they have a strong understanding of the prospect and their needs. For this blog, I am going to focus on how we create and tell a great customer story to the Sales team.

Give Sales a Compelling Story About the Prospect

For the Sales story, I always start with a basic sentence that contains details about source, campaign and capture for each lead.

Source describes where did the lead come from.

  • Examples:
    • IP Address tells me where they are located (Geolocation)
    • Digital – Google Adwords, email lists, organic referrer
    • Non-digital – Trade shows, referrals, call center

Campaign describes what specific story (messaging) the prospect is responding to.

  • Examples:
    • Digital – Ad copy/messaging in Adwords, banner ads, email
    • Non-digital – TV ads, radio, tradeshows, catalog, mailers

Capture describes what path the lead took that resulted in sharing their contact information with us and what they were seeking.

  • Examples:
    • Digital – Product demo request, trial sign-up, whitepaper download, webinar, infographic
    • Non-digital – Call center, mail-in, in-store, tradeshows

At the simplest level, with these three pieces of information, I can share with Sales a simple one-sentence story about the prospect. For Service Objects, the story might look something like this:

“Jane from San Jose, CA responded to our Ecomm Delivery campaign, from an ad on LinkedIn (source) and was captured when completing the form to download the whitepaper, The ROI of Address Validation.”

Even with this basic information, Sales already knows a lot about the prospect. And this simple story is only scratching the surface.  A more sophisticated story could (and should) easily include detailed information about the need or pain point the campaign is addressing, the historical value of leads from the source, some additional lead scoring based on their path and how they were captured. These details, paired with their contact information and the details derived from them, provide a strong picture of the lead value before Sales even touches it.

This information also enables you to make early value judgments on the leads, enabling Sales to target the high-value leads, place higher-up-the-funnel leads on nurturing tracks, and even disqualifying some. And with the addition of demographic and firmographic information, your teams can really streamline and automate many of their sales process and funnels.

Where Does Data Validation Fit In?

To some, this may all sound pretty basic. So you might ask, why is Service Objects, a data validation company, talking about lead scoring and sales funnels?  Where does validation fit in?

It is a great question, and the simple answer is everywhere. From making sure your leads are genuine, accurate and up-to-date, to providing critical details that can enhance and fine-tune your lead scoring, data validation is critical.

SOURCE + DATA VALIDATION

One element of the Source story (for digital marketing) should be the lead’s IP address. With the IP address, a validation service like DOTS IP Address Validation, you can determine their geographic location. This is especially valuable on simple lead forms where you might only capture ‘name’ and ’email address.’

There are three key data points that IP addresses can provide: geographic location, if the IP is malicious, and if the user is using a proxy. There are a number of things that these data points can be used for.

Geographic Location

  • Automate lead distribution to your sales team based on sales territories.
  • Customize marketing messaging. A simple example, your website detects their location and displays ‘Snow Shovels’ in Colorado and ‘Snorkeling Gear’ in Hawaii.
  • Determine language and route lead to the appropriate salesperson.
  • Use their location as part of your lead scoring calculations.
  • Refine your audiences using their location and success metrics to geotarget high-value areas.
  • Detect fraud. For example, the user completes an address form saying they are in California but the IP address reports the location as China.

Proxy and Malicious

  • Checking for proxy and malicious is mainly used to identify fraud. You can create settings to automatically block traffic coming from IPs that are flagged as malicious and give a lower lead score for those identified as using a proxy.

CAMPAIGN + DATA VALIDATION

At first blush, you might think that data validation doesn’t have much to do with launching a campaign. As you will see, this could not be farther from the truth.  Here are few examples that quickly illustrate this:

Email Lists

Whether you are sending an email campaign to your in-house list or using a 3rd party list, you should validate the lists before distribution. Using an email validation service like DOTS Email Validation allows you to:

  • Identify and remove email addresses that are bad, no longer receiving email, or are from free email services.
  • Segment your lists based on the quality score provided by the validation. This can help you set expectations about performance for each segment.
  • For 3rd party email lists, you can request that they provide a quality score for the list from an objective email validation service. With the score, you can reduce the list size, effectively only sending to high-quality email addresses and reducing your spend.
  • Protect your business from being blacklisted by ISPs.

Although the initial cost to send to ‘all’ emails doesn’t look expensive, the impact bad emails have on your performance metrics and decision-making can be debilitating and ultimately, expensive.

Audience Characteristics

One of the major considerations with campaigns is, “Who is the audience you are targeting?” Most of the major advertising platforms allow you to segment your audience through a number of filters, from location, industry, role, language, etc.

Knowing what filters to use here can be daunting and costly when you get it wrong. Using a lead validation service, like DOTS Lead Validation, helps determine the appropriate filters for your campaign, with the added and critically important value of knowing the leads you are working with are genuine, accurate and up-to-date.  You can even enhance your leads further by appending demographic information with services like DOTS Demographics Plus.

Lead validation also enables better segmentation and even fraud protection. Leads are scored using 130 data points under five main categories: name, address, email, phone, and device (IP). Certainty and quality scores are provided for each main category and a cumulative overall score for the entire lead. You can use any or all of these scores to better segment your lists and help you define the ideal audience to target.

CAPTURE + DATA VALIDATION

The last part of telling your lead story is what I call ‘capture’ and encompasses both the user’s experience as they navigate your site and the resulting capture of their contact details through a web form. There are a number of different touchpoints where a user might provide their contact details both offline and online.

Offline:

  • Call centers
  • Mail-in forms (e.g. rebate and warranty)
  • Tradeshows

Online:

  • Account registration
  • Bill to / Ship to
  • Content access / Freemiums (e.g. Whitepapers, infographics, videos, etc)
  • Trial signups
  • Newsletter and blog subscribers
  • Request Info
  • Support tickets
  • And many more…

There are two parts to storytelling when it comes to ‘capture’. Most importantly is the “why” they completed the form.  Are they purchasing a product, downloading content, requesting a trial of your service, etc? And the second part, are they providing legitimate contact details?

Why Are They Providing Details?

Clearly, this is the biggest indicator of their intent. We understand that the prospect or customer is willing to provide their contact details in exchange for ‘something’ of value to them. Understanding the value of each ‘something’ is critical to scoring and responding to them. A simple illustration of this is to compare two leads.

Karen visited multiple pages of your website and spent 2 minutes on your product page, ultimately completing the form requesting a trial version. Ryan came through a direct link found in a 3rd party article and completed a form to grab a freemium.

At first glance, both of these leads appear to have similar value, with Karen being a little more valuable given that she asked to trial your product. The next part of the ‘capture’ element is to determine how legitimate the information they have provided is.  And this is where data validation tools can play a large role in helping you determine a lead’s authenticity, value, and accessibility.  Depending on your need, you want to verify the contact’s name, address, email or phone – or any combination of these.

Let’s revisit Karen and Ryan with these tools in hand.

Karen’s Story

Karen provided her name, address, email and phone number to access a free trial.  Using Lead Validation, we were able to determine the following:

  1. Her name returned an 85 for a certainty score.
  2. Her address scored an 80 certainty and has a DPV value (designates deliverability) of ‘Deliverable’.
  3. The email scored 52 and is recommended for further review. The email address is associated with a free email service.
  4. Her phone number returns a 0 score and is reported as an ‘invalid/garbage number’.
  5. And once we checked her IP address, we learned that she is visiting from Russia, not Kentucky like her address suggested.

Karen doesn’t look like the great lead we had hoped for. Using lead scoring, you would automatically route her to a track and potentially suspend the free trial until your Sales team makes contact.

Ryan’s Story

Ryan basically hit one page, provided his name and email address, grabbed the free whitepaper, and bounced off the site. Let’s take a look at what name and email validation has to say about Ryan.

  1. His name received an 85 certainty score.
  2. His email address scored 85. It is from a Fortune 500 company that is part of your target customer list.
  3. He downloaded a whitepaper that details how your product (in his industry) can solve a specific problem.

Ryan looks like a great lead, especially when we learn that the source of the link is a credible trade publication for his industry. Ideally, we would like to engage him and his actions suggest putting him on an industry-targeted nurture campaign and having the Sales team follow up with him personally.

Tell a Unifying and Compelling Story

Bringing Marketing and Sales together is hard. In some ways, they are at odds from the outset. One is tasked with delivering as many leads as possible, “quality be damned, just hit your KPI.” While the other is trying to close sales while having to wade through the good, the bad, and the ugly that Marketing has provided.

I like to take a different approach. I want to provide Sales with a high-quality lead and tell them a compelling story that gets them energized, with a clear understanding of what the customer needs and how our services can perfectly fit them. Honestly, it doesn’t always go as smoothly as we would like but Sales knows that we are on the same team, Team Revenue.

By the way, now that you have read this article to the end, your lead quality score went up a few points.

Contact us if you would to discuss how our tools can help you tell great stories. Take care.

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