Company Data Opens the Door to Data Business Success

The hype around creating data businesses is at an all-time high in the B2B media sector. With display ad revenue falling off a cliff and lead-gen business models becoming more challenged, there is a clear focus to diversify digital revenue further, and data models are a clear player in that picture.

The hype around creating data businesses is at an all-time high in the B2B media sector. With display ad revenue falling off a cliff and lead-gen business models becoming more challenged, there is a clear focus to diversify digital revenue further, and data models are a clear player in that picture.

But, as I talk to colleagues in the sector, many are trying to find their way on the data front. One obstacle in becoming a data player lies in the fundamental way media brands have their databases set up.

Most B2B media players tout that they have in-depth insights on users through their database. The problem with this approach is that it does not align with the way many companies want to start their data journey. While many marketers will look for one-on-one connections with people, the process of gathering data and gaining market insights often starts at the company/organization level.

There are many reasons why this is the case. On one hand, most of the data searches by a marketer start with trying to understand general trends across a market sector or region. While this data can be obtained at the individual level, it’s much easier to see these trends at the company level.

On the other hand, marketers are getting highly targeted at the companies they want to reach – at Edgell, we had a large technology provider come to us that wanted to reach only 300 companies at one point. While this can be done at the individual level, it’s much easier and more accurate to achieve with a company table structure in place.

Making Company Data Come to Life

Clearly, the lack of a company structure in today’s databases is hurting media brands in their data business launch efforts. But, how do we overcome this obstacle?

There are several ways to start. First, you need to shift your team’s thinking and culture. While capturing info on an individual is important, you have to put a structure in place where you’re equally collecting data at the company level.

Beyond the cultural shift, here are some tips that will help make your company table structure come to life:

Tip 1: Define what you need to capture

By adding a company table, you have a chance to bring valuable data elements to your database. So, you should use this as a chance to bring in data elements that you may not be capturing today. For example, you can bring in things like industries the company covers, overall company revenue, divisions, and other elements that you may not have in your database today.

Tip 2: Align data

The addition of a company table also allows you to align data across individual records. For example, in an audience-driven database, you can have one employee at company X that puts down divisional revenue while another puts down group revenue. Through the company table, you can use publicly available info from Company X’s financial reports or from tools like Hoovers to align all users from that company under a single revenue bracket.

Tip 3: Start with your top companies

Once you’ve built the foundation for the company table, you should develop a strategy for rolling it out to all of your audience members. But where do you start? The 80/20 rule is a good solution here. Take your Top 50 or Top 100 companies and roll the company table out to these organizations first. Likely, you’ll have the most contacts from these companies. That will allow you to create a good sample size for data collection/alignment and also a good way to build a plan for future migration.

Unlocking the Power of the Company Data

Once you’ve started supporting and collecting data, the next trick is putting the reporting tools in place to get value from the company data. Even more important is to have your company reports in place so your customers can leverage them for running market analysis reports, market trend reports, and more.

There are a number of options that can help on the reporting front. To me, one of the most powerful is the integration of a visualization tool like a Tableau or a Good Data. Visualization tools let you pull in different data sets, align them and create reports that can show the combination of data cross companies. This is extremely powerful when dealing with company data because you see trends around companies based on revenue, business/industry, and more.

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There is no doubt that many media brands are struggling to find their niche in the data business. While not the end-all solution, leveraging a company table in your database architecture is one way that you can better position your organization for data success.

4 Tips for Choosing a Marketing Automation Tool

The selection of a marketing automation tool is not an easy process. There are a ton of factors to consider — from integration to process to workflow and much more.

For the past few months, I’ve had the chance to work with several companies on either improving their marketing automation processes or defining the need for a marketing automation tool. From those conversations, here’s four key tips for walking through the marketing automation tool selection process.

Tip #1: It Starts with You

Like many technologies, there is a clear buzz in the market around the rollout of marketing automation tools in the media sector. That buzz makes it easy to say, “I need this to solve my problems.”

But, the question publishers must ask first is, “What problems am I trying to solve?”

Like any other technology rollout, the successful rollout of a marketing automation tool starts with first defining your needs. It’s easy to say, “I need drip marketing capabilities” or “I need a marketing automation tool to improve subscription renewals.” But, if you’re going to succeed, you need to be a lot more specific up front. Take the time to walk through the areas where you see marketing automation as an option and walk through potential workflows. For example, if you’re sending an email promotion to generate event attendee registration, there are several flows to consider:

  1. A user opens, clicks, and registers
  2. A user opens, clicks, but doesn’t register
  3. A user opens, but doesn’t click
  4. A user doesn’t open

In each case here, you can set a different workflow and a different messaging scheme.

In the case of a subscription renewals, you may want to set up a process where a user receives a special pop-up message to re-subscribe if their subscription is up or to subscribe if they are not one already.

These are both solutions where marketing automation can help. But, they may only be a few of the scenarios you have. So, to the best of your ability, identify the different use cases. You can then use these use cases to set up proof of concept campaigns with vendors during the RFP selection process.

Tip #2: Easy Workflow Set Up

One way in which today’s marketing automation tool vendors excel is in the breadth of features they offer in their product. But, that large feature set is a blessing and a curse. Just like many analytics tools, it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed by the amount of capabilities found in today’s modern marketing automation products.

But, no matter what tool you use, one feature stands out more than most — the ability to easily set up workflows. Workflows lie at the heart of the marketing automation tool and are the keys to building a successful automation campaign. When looking at tools, search for one that offers a visual experience where workflows can be created or adapted by dragging and dropping blocks. This makes the workflow process more intuitive to a user and quicker to implement.

Most modern tools offer this capability. If you’re looking at a tool that doesn’t, you may want to look at additional options.

Tip #3: Get a Dedicated IP Address

Here’s the number one mistake some publishers, especially smaller ones, make when selecting a marketing automation tool. Marketing automation tool providers will push for all emails to go out through the tool. They have good reason for it. If you’re going to truly automate marketing efforts, then it’s critical to understand how users are interacting with all emails.

However, this is where some publishers have made a big mistake. To save on cost, some publishers are leveraging one of the shared IP addresses from the tool provider. That means that your emails are traveling on the same channels as other marketing partners that may not be following the same best email practices you are. So, if they do something wrong, it can have a direct impact on your marketing efforts. And, when you add in a higher-value email product like a newsletter to the mix, then you are opening yourself up for potential issues from both an editorial and business perspective.