The B2B world is surrounded with data, and those who know how to harness this information can significantly improve their outbound email campaigns through careful collection and analysis. In fact, the number one role that data plays in the B2B world today is for smarter, better targeting.
I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people. One thing that I often hear is that a lot of companies will conduct their own Google and Linkedin searches to get their B2B contact information and data.
To this, I promptly ask about the quality and accuracy of this data; nine times out of ten, the answer is “....well, it’s not great.”
Then, to my horror, I learn that companies tend to invest about 60% of their valuable sales resources into creating this subpar list of inaccurate, low-quality prospect data.
Friends, there are better ways to do this.
Let’s dive into how this can be done more efficiently, more accurately, and in a matter of minutes.
There are four main topics that we will need to cover to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of creating an accurate and complete prospect list. These topics are as follows:
- Why having accurate data is important and how to verify accuracy
- How you can use technology to collect accurate data faster
- The importance of human verification and data cleaning
- What data points you should be looking to collect
By the end of this blog, you know the most important data points to fuel your outbound campaign, how to use them effectively and lastly, how to maintain an accurate list.
Why is Accurate Data Important?
Having access to all the data available on the internet is essentially a double-edged sword; if you haven’t done your due-diligence on the data you have collected, your business may find itself facing a number of problems.
Not having accurate data to fuel your campaigns is risking more than just time - it’s risking your reputation.
It is therefore crucial that, no matter how you collected your data in the first place, that this data is accurate.
Let’s take a look at one of Ubico’s examples of a highly personalized email copy, seen below. The coloured text indicates where personalized data was inputted to make the message highly effective, and each colour indicates a different data point.
Now, let's imagine for a minute that the list of data used was not accurate, and so the personalized sections were filled with incorrect information. For example, maybe the title of the blog was wrong, maybe John & Co isn’t in the computer software industry, or maybe John never even wrote a blog!
You can see how this would fully ruin the content of this message - it is an easy way to ensure that your company looks unprofessional, and may tarnish your reputation.
We often talk about the importance of accurate data to make your personalized content effective, however most of us overlook one of the most important data points and the need for it to always be accurate: contact information.
We simply may say, “so what if the email is wrong, it’ll just bounce back! It’s the details of the email that are the most important.” While, yes, the details are important, not having accurate email addresses can actually be worse.
Email verification is one of the most important things to do before launching your outbound campaign. It is of the utmost importance that this data field is always accurate.
If you are sending content to invalid email addresses, this is not only a huge waste of money and resources, but is also one of three primary contributors to a negative sender reputation.
Sender reputation refers to the reputation of your email sending IP address, assigned through a score by Internet Service Providers (ISP), based on your emails sending practices.
The sender score is used to signal to email inbox providers whether or not you’re a spammer. When your score falls below a certain threshold, your IP address may be blacklisted or blocked by some ISPs. You might also have your messages sent directly to recipients’ spam folders or even just flat out rejected.
Statistically, anywhere between 5-30% of email addresses from your list will be invalid, and there are a number of reasons why this is the case.
The most common reasons for this are:
- Typos in the email address
- The recipient no longer works at that company
- The domain is dead
- The recipient's email address has been changed
Give the information above, it is vital that you verify the email addresses you have before you start sending. There are two-steps involved in this verification process:
1. Syntax Verification.
For an email to be delivered, it needs to have a valid address that follows certain rules of syntax; that is, the email address needs to be composed of 4 parts:
- Recipient name
- @ symbol
- Domaine name (usually the organization name, in one form or other)
- Top-level domain (ex. .com, .ca, .org, .net)
2. SMTP Verification.
This stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol Verification, and this check is used to authenticate the recipient's email address to ensure that it actually exists.
These two steps provide you an overview of how email verification can be done, but there is no reason why you should do this manually.
There are tools that you can use that will automate this process and can guarantee a delivery rate of 99.9%. Tools like this go beyond what can be done manually, as some of these solutions include up to 20 different checks.
Think of all the time you can save employing an automated tool like this!
Now that you know how to verify your email addresses, let’s get into how you can collect accurate data quickly, and then how we can ensure that this data is accurate.
Retrieving Accurate Data Quickly
Emerging technologies have made it possible to create lists of valuable and accurate data in a matter of minutes. Gone are the days where you need to do things manually.
With the advancements in real-time web crawling capabilities, we are able to quickly gather accurate information.
The term “web crawling” refers to a program or automated script that deploys “bots” into the web to “read” the information they find. These bots search for pages based on the query provided by the user, scan them, and index the pages with relevant content. This method of collecting data makes ensuring accuracy more possible than ever - if you know how to use this technology.
Web crawling techniques can also be used to enrich your data. Data enrichment refers to the processes involved in improving the data you have about your prospects. This is absolutely key to delivering the best and most personalized content possible.
Alright, so you’ve got yourself a list of what you believe is accurate data, and hopefully you didn’t spend hours on end doing this manually.
Human Verification and Data Cleaning
Well, you definitely need an extra layer of verification to ensure that your data is accurate, as computers will make mistakes.
Data verification through automation is certainly a time-saver, however it has its limitations; in some cases, the machine is unable to distinguish from right and wrong in data quality. To ensure that your data is of the highest accuracy, you need more than just automation.
A combination of both automation and human verification will lead to the most accurate data possible.
In some cases, adding a human level to your data verification process can increase the accuracy of your data by up to 20%.
Statistically, 30% of information in your customer database will be outdated within 12 months. This is known as data decay; your data, much like the people and businesses they represent, are constantly changing, evolving and moving. In turn, this means that your data needs to be constantly updated and cleaned in order to represent the most accurate information.
Data cleansing is a necessary component to making sure that your data is accurate and up-to-date. As stated above, this process is of the utmost importance because it acts as a preventative measure to a negative sending reputation.
“Data cleaning” means exactly what it sounds like; it is the process of cleaning your data. Through this process, you directly address some common problems with databases, including incorrect formatting of information, redundancies and inaccuracies.
Ultimately, cleaning your data is a must to avoid bad emailing practices.
At this point, you should know why accurate data is important, how you can quickly gather accurate information and lastly, why you need to clean it up and double-check it.
Now that we are on the same page, what type of data should you be looking to gather? There is obviously a ton of information available, but are there specific bits of data that you should be targeting in your collection process?
The answer is yes. Absolutely.
What Data should I be Collecting?
There are three tiers of personalization that you can use as a guideline for the information that you should be looking to collect.
Having more information about your prospects will improve your ability to relate to them. The more relevant and personalized your messaging is, the higher your engagement rates will be.
If you are using tools for web crawling, it is as simple as plugging in these tiers to guide your queries when sending out web crawling bots. Enrich your list to include these data points, and you’ll be golden!
The three main tiers of personalization are:
- Firmographic/ Company: This tier focuses on personalization with regards to details about each specific company. This includes information such as recent company hires, employee count, recent company awards or achievements, and company details.
- Demographic/ Person: This tier of personalization involves gathering data and information on the specific person that you are reaching out to. This can include things like a recent blog post they published, or noting a recent promotion, etc.
- Industry: This tier of personalization focuses on collecting data about the industry, such as recent statistics about something in the industry.
Collecting data on these three tiers can really improve the personalization of your campaign.
For more information on the importance of personalizing your emails, see The Importance of Personalization in B2B Today.
At the end of the day, all the data available online can help boost your business only if you know how to ensure its validity.
Inaccurate data not only threatens your sending reputation and can get you blacklisted, but it is also detrimental to send your prospects inaccurate details about themselves or their company.