8 Questions To Ask About a Database Before Advertising

Recently a prospective vendor asked how big a client’s database was, to decide whether to advertise with us. “What other metrics do they want?” I asked.  None, I was told.

None?  Really?

Anyone can build a big database–really big–filled with garbage names, inactive records, known bad addresses, lists culled from questionable sources. However, I highly doubt that a database filled with those lists is going to get any client worthwhile introductions or engagement.  Or any follow up advertising from that vendor.

I have shared many posts on building a successful database, such as What is YOUR Database STRATEGY?Spring Cleaning Your …. Data, and 5 Low-Cost Ideas to Improve Email Response Rates. Now.

For advertisers evaluating a database, I think there are better questions a prospect can ask to gauge whether a database is healthy and a viable fit for them.  Some of them include (in no particular order):

  • How many active users (prospects/customers) have you added to your database in the last year?
  • How many people in my specific target area do you have on your database? Can you show me any demographic profiles?
  • What percentage of your database has demographics?
  • How are you building brand engagement?
  • What is the average open rate on your emails/enewsletters/etc?
  • If you own multiple, similar brands I want to advertise with, what is the overlap on their distribution?
  • If considering hosting a webinar, what is the average attendee vs. sign up ratio?  How long does the average attendee participate in the webinar?
  • How do you actively try to re-engage older customers on your database?

Every database will have strengths and shortfalls. I tell my clients that we should promote our positive points upfront.  By providing snippets of data, it may eliminate questions that emphasize weaknesses. Obviously, the success an advertiser sees in their marketing programs will truly show them the effectiveness of our database and their investment.

The journey continues. Cindy

White Papers & Lead Generation-Part 2

Promoting white paper downloads helps media companies offer targeted leads to advertisers, increase their web traffic, and improve their own database. The first part of this 2-part blog post discussed what white papers are, how they are used, and why they are so popular today.

In doing research for that post, I visited many media web sites. I saw a huge disparity in the amount and types of data that firms are collecting for a free white paper download. Brands are asking a range of collecting no data (why? unless you are just looking for distribution quantity, but no ability to follow up) to asking for complete contact information and detailed demographic questions.

What information you require for download will depend on 1—what will help you identify an existing customer or capture a new one 2—what information you need to give back to an advertiser and 3—what demographics you deem imperative to capture for your database, for improved marketing.

One of the quickest registration starters is to ask for just an email address on screen 1.

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CRN email only at 3.46.02 PM

If a customer is in your system, then the link where a customer completes contact information can be pre-populated. (ie. their name, company already typed in the boxes). If it is a new customer, then that person completes the contact information form. Below are the page 2 links for the previous screens:
FP contact demos 2016-05-23 at 3.57.29 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice that above they are collecting some demographic information with the registration questions.  The form still looks short, since the demo questions have drop down options.

CRN addr 2016-05-23 at 3.46.24 PM

The quicker the process for your customer, the higher the chance they may visit your site again when they have an informational need.

Other questions to consider as you set up your forms:

What other information do you need to capture on the reg form, to make the lead usable for both you and the advertiser? This CFO form is very simple.

CFO simple reg 2016-05-23 at 4.08.43 PM

This one includes phone numbers, which I saw required on very few forms.  I wonder if they tested the form to see if that requirement impacted download rates.

CFO detail reg

Do you need a mailing address now? Or can a sales person ask for that data later, once the lead is captured?  That might improve response rates.

For existing customers, are there some demographics missing from their profile? Can you ask for one piece of it when they make a download?

Can you test the questions asked on reg forms? Testing often shows there is a balance of the amount of information collected and the value of the “free” download.

I think that you are limited in your form creation by your front end and back end systems, time to create and manage them, and your imagination.  This process is changing dramatically, driven by both user whims and advertiser demands. The fluctuations may decrease with in a year, but right now I think it’s a bit of the Wild West.  Testing, tracking, changing, test again.

The journey continues.

C

White Papers & Lead Generation—Evolving Daily. Part 1

White papers are reports usually offered as free downloads. The content is a focused topic  that pertains to the creator’s business and that the downloader wants to learn more about. In return for the free white papers, people supply the hosting company with contact information, possibly some demographics.

White papers are a valuable part of the revenue steam and help with brand building, lead generation, and database building.  Many media companies have “white paper” sections on their websites.

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Manufacturers or service providers post white papers on their websites as well.

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However, they often want them posted on media company sites to be introduced to potential customers. By virtue of media companies’ heavy content, many have regular website traffic of people visiting them.

When posted on the media company’s site, the white paper leads are passed to the advertisers.  Vendors are finding these lead generation programs worthwhile, since these are pre-screened prospects. They can try to convert to future sales. Sometimes leads are downloaded directly to the advertiser websites, which can be a missed opportunity for the media company to build its database.

There are 3 main kinds of white papers, with hybrids as well. To keep it simple, I use the “advertiser” to represent the firm posting the white paper and “media company” to refer to the company selling the services and hosting the white paper.

  1. The advertiser writes its own white paper to put on a media company’s website.
  2. The media company does proprietary research with the advertiser to create and execute the white paper.
  3. The media company creates a white paper with its own internally generate content to help build its own client base.

I will ignore the 4th type , which is straight forward sales material. This is NOT a white paper and should be called what it is.

Perusing many websites recently shows that data collection for online white papers is like the Wild West—no protocol, no rules, firms collecting data points from nothing to way more information than people are willing to give for a free download.

Part 2 of this post will include a sampling of the wide range of data collection forms, with pros and cons for each.

The journey continues.

C

What is YOUR Database STRATEGY?

In a publishing or information services company, every department has data. A lot of it. In different formats. With a range of collected demographics. And wants to store and use it in a variety of ways.

Typical departments can include:

  • Audience development (for the magazines and e-newsletter lists)
  • Events
  • Membership
  • Events
  • Research
  • List Services

Each of these departments has a different view of the database, but those individual views may not be what is best for the entire company database.  If there is no central communication, I envision the blindfolded people around the elephant: each with a completely different view of the animal but no one grasping how complex the animal is.

When reviewing options for how to best house your customer information, it is critical to have someone looking at the STRATEGY of how you want to capture customer data, maintain it, use it in the future. You need that over-arching view as you consider technology options for what is best for the entire organization.

This is not an easy task today. Online customers drive how much information they will offer about themselves to interact with your sites, your offers, your products. And as I have said in previous posts, this can be at odds with the information that advertisers are demanding. Without a strategy, it can be cumbersome and frustrating for internal staff AND customers, who are continually asked for unnecessary data about themselves and sent offers they have no interest in.

There are some database management systems that have incredible front ends for data capture, but the back end of the system is not as nuanced as many business-2-business firms require today. There are some systems that can store and massage your data, but the front end for data capture is severely old-fashioned.

I have been involved in several recent database reviews. I am not sure there is ONE firm that best provides the superior front AND back end services for today’s multi-faceted information services companies. The online interactions and interests of both advertisers and customers are changing so rapidly, it is hard to keep up technology-wise. But, you can combine the services of more than one firm to reach your goals.

Be sure to involve an experienced database manager at the front end of your development process. She can help decipher the needs of the various departments, ask targeted questions to potential database firms, and help determine which systems might work best for your company today to market smarter and maximize revenue. And tomorrow.

The journey continues.

C

Spring Cleaning Your …. Data

Spring, is a time when many people clean out their cabinets, basements, spice drawers, closets. It is a time of reflection, for letting go of some of the past while planning for the rest of the year.

I think we should do this at work too. Take some time to spring clean the data in your database.   While you may regularly look at the segments that bring you the best ROI or your most active customers, I bet you have many other contacts in your database—hidden names, useless names, forgotten names.

If your database cost is based on size, that is a great reason to get rid of old, unusable names. Even if it is not,  random blocks of names can add clutter and confusion as you examine what is in your database. And it can skew perceptions to how big, how usable, and how targeted your customers/prospects lists are.

Separate your data in 3 groups, just like when you clean out your closet. Here is a sample idea of how you can group your data:

The Keep Pile

  • Customers active within the last 2-3 years.
  • Recent prospect lists added to your database.
  • That email opt out list, as much as you might want to get rid of it.
  • Contacts that target any new products you plan to create this year.

The Giveaway (or clean up) Pile

  • Recent (within 2 years) contacts with missing demographics. This can be appended.
  • Contacts missing email or mailing address, or phone numbers. This can be added from outside sources.

Destroy Pile

  • 3+ year names with bad mailing or email addresses.
  • Segments of your file that you no longer serve.
  • Outdated purchased lists that you no longer have permission to use.
  • Duplicate records or data that cannot be merged.

The keep and purge pile definitions will vary based on your targets, your universe, and most importantly, your future needs. But this a simple start to really LOOKING at what is in your database.

Who knows? You may find lists you can re-engage through this process. Remember, it is cheaper to convert old customers into current ones than it is to replace them. It’s like finding that clothing treasure that you find in the back of your closet. Update it, re-purpose it, and it is usable again for very little cost.

The journey continues.

C

A Marketer’s 2016 Top Prediction

As an audience marketer, my #1 marketing prediction for what is HOT in 2016 remains what was my #1 2015 prediction, with a few twists. In January 2015 that was:

Lead generation. Advertisers continue to request more detailed demographics about their leads. These leads are lucrative, IF marketing companies have the information being demanded—employee size, sales volume, titles, business types, etc.

The demand from advertisers to reach a very specific audience will continue to increase in 2016. They want us to pre-qualify leads before we send pass them along. Sample: we want 1000 leads of people in the C-suite (CEO, CIO, President) in $100 million+ companies. This is a typical request—but it seems like EVERYONE wants to each this group. Note– this group does NOT make all the purchase decisions! They may sign off on a contact, but it is the upper management who often vets and recommends vendors. Another topic for another day, since I could write reams about this subject.

The ongoing question is –how do we continue to capture and then fulfill these types of requests? Advertisers today often ask for targeted leads with email addresses and phone numbers. To continue to provide clean, active prospects, we need to first provide valuable web content that encourages prospects to give us their contact information. This can be an article on our website, a white paper, a free sample, a video, a webinar, a live event, a research summary, the list goes on.

We need to harness the power of our customers and our database.  At the front end we need targeted marketing efforts that promote these “carrots” to the correct audience. We then need to ensure we capture and turn around the contact information on a timely basis.

A lot to ask for, with today’s budgets and tight timelines, as well as customers becoming more reluctant to share personal information.  My next post will be some practical, inexpensive ways you can improve your target marketing efforts TODAY.

The journey continues.

C

Benefits of Monetizing Your Data

Last week I attended an informative Gartner Briefing titled “Innovating with Information and Analytics.” Presented by Gartner VP Distinguished Analyst (and my former high school classmate) Doug Laney, this presentation covered a wide gamut of ways to innovate your company using your data, your database, and many real-world examples of companies viewing their data assets differently to create new revenue streams to improve their bottom line and customer relationships.

Much of the presentation was on how companies are monetizing their databases. Gartners’ findings are that only 50% of companies are trying to monetize their databases today.  Laney discussed the direct and indirect benefits of trying to monetize data.

Talking to clients, I often think of many of the direct impacts from trying to generate revenue from your database ( ie. sell, trade or barter with data; receive more favorable terms & conditions; license data; offer data/analysis/subscriptions).

I was intrigued with the non-direct results from monetizeing data, which can be more intangible. Frankly, I don’t think of these as often. Some of these non-direct benefits Laney discussed included:

  1. Improved efficiencies
  2. Reduced risks
  3. Improved partner relationships
  4. You can possibly introduce branded index–more data avail for sale than teaser info for free

Coming from the marketing perspective and my past experience, I want to add a couple non-direct results from monetizing our data to his list,

  1. Increased knowledge about your audience
  2. Decreased list fatigue from smarter marketing
  3. increased communication between departments

As departments work together to monetize data, I think that there will be multiple views of the benefits of monetizing data.  If you have attempted to monetize your database, what are other tangible or intangible benefits you have seen?

The journey continues.

C