In the technology-centric modern business environment, customer data is the most important asset for marketers. Indeed, it is not the data that is important itself - what really counts is how you analyze it and use it to build meaningful relationships and drive revenue.
Michelangelo once said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” In the same way, marketers must leverage customer data to uncover hidden potential and turn leads into paying customers.
Understanding and Segmenting Customer Data
Marketers who understand their data from existing customers, and know how to segment it can successfully predict behavioral patterns of their prospects and accordingly, plan robust lead generation strategies.
According to D&B, the interaction and behavioral data from existing customers coupled with data from CRM and marketing automation systems can become a constant source of feedback for marketers to use to develop relationships with their prospects. When data is more accurate and complete across the customer lifecycle, it becomes extremely useful for nurturing leads, offering a holistic view of prospects as well as customers.
Moreover, this also helps in segmenting prospects based on their needs and interests. With effective segmentation, marketers can personalize the content for the most valuable customer segments, garnering higher conversions.
For example, you could look at the data of your existing customers in order to establish the most valuable segments based on their purchasing patterns, e.g. the ones that generate more revenue for your company. Once that is established, you can look for other prospects in your customer database who may be sharing similar patterns.
To make your segmentation process even more effective, consider whether you’re getting value for your lead-nurturing efforts, and whether your prospects are getting value from your communications. If you are a B2B company, the segmentation process could be even more complex and challenging because of the elongated buying cycle and presence of multiple decision-makers. In such a scenario, focus on building a long-term relationship with your enterprise customers.
D&B suggests considering the following factors for segmentations.
Firmographics: Find out the buying patterns of companies sharing similar characteristics such as size, industry, locations, revenue, satellite offices and number of employees.
Roles-based: Find out the patterns in responses from titles in organizations across diverse firmographics. The patterns can include content consumption, online behavior, and response to messaging.
Interactions-based: Find out if there are any similarities based on interactions such as sales, customer service, in person interactions and social media share.
Needs-based: Find out if companies having specific needs are behaving similarly.
Once you have done the segmentation correctly and discovered where the prospects are in their journey, targeting them with personalized and relevant content becomes fairly easy. Moreover, it will also help you deliver great value in your communication efforts and get more value from your interactions. Ultimately, your marketing automation platform will be more effective than ever.
Ensuring Marketing and Sales Teams Work Work Cohesively
While the marketing teams have identified the most important customer data and established patterns that are useful for lead nurturing, marketing should share this with the sales teams so they can utilize it in their ongoing efforts, e.g. calling prospects.
Essentially, both marketing and sales teams must understand the value they can offer each other. This is where the following best practices can be really useful.
Share Corporate Philosophy for Customer Relationship: The organization must define and communicate a corporate philosophy for customer relationships. This basically means everybody on marketing and sales teams must share and appreciate the inherent value, goals and efforts related to the customer relationship.
Share Customer Behavior Data: Organizations where marketing teams and sales team don’t share customer data with each other are likely to miss out on potential customer acquisition opportunities. Therefore, it’s important for organizations to make shared behavior data mandatory across the board.
Keep Marketing and Sales Involved Post-Sale: After a sale takes place, it’s imperative for the sales team to continue the conversation with the customer and more importantly, share the data with marketing teams so they learn as much as possible about the customer behavior to extend the relationship and nurture customer loyalty.
Using Data to Nurture Leads: Some Best Practices
Successfully nurturing relationships with prospects and customers requires collective efforts from all departments. D&B recommends the following best practices in order to achieve synergy for lead nurturing.
Replicate Prospects Identification Approach: In order to identify existing customers sharing similar behavioral patterns, follow the same identification process used for segmenting prospects. Once you find existing customers that share similar patterns (firmographic, geographic, behavior, needs) with prospects, you can start marketing to them.
Gather Data from Everywhere: Apart from leveraging data from your CRM systems, you should also gather data from other sources, whenever available, in order to predict customers’ needs and engage with them using the right channels at the right time.
Use Smart Filtering: Based on your goals and objectives, you could filter data in order to target your prospects more specifically. For example, if you want to achieve more sales or better engagement from a segment, look for the most important metrics relevant to your objectives.
Cleanse Your Data: Since lead nurturing is a highly data-driven approach, you should make sure that your data is highly accurate and up-to-date. Lead nurturing is a long-term process, you should invest in cleansing your data periodically.
According to a study by Forbes, 94% of businesses said keeping customers for life is important; however, only 38% were focused on nurturing relationships for revenue growth. Moreover, as many as 47% didn’t even know the lifetime value of their customers. Evidently, nurturing leads is still underappreciated but holds immense growth potential for organizations. However, nurturing relationships with your prospects and existing customers requires that all teams in your company - sales, marketing, finance, customer service, support - are involved in the process. Each and every department plays a key role in influencing the customer experience at one point or another.
What do you think is the most critical component in the lead generation and lead nurturing process? Please, share your thoughts with us in the comments below.