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"Trick or Treat" may be a beloved phrase come Halloween, but it takes on a whole new meaning for many B2B marketers whenever a lead generation campaign is deployed: Will its performance be an absolute treat bag full of results, or do the open, bounce-back, and click-through rates point toward some kind of trickery?

Unfortunately, what we often get is the latter. And, when do, the culprit is often a scary-looking database.

One NetProspex analysis found that business-records data decays at 2% per month, and SiriusDecisions has reported that up to 30% of a contact database goes bad each year. So, marketers who have not reviewed their databases since last Halloween (or even earlier—eek!) could be in for some major scares when they issue their next campaign.

Here are the five easiest "tricks" to get more treats from your B2B marketing database this Halloween—and long thereafter.

1. Identify the scariest data

In 2011 alone, more than 48 million people changed jobs. With change like that, a lot of really ghoulishly information is inevitably lurking in your database.

Instead of letting it scare you, face it full on by conducting a complete assessment that explores what information is missing, what information is wrong, and what information needs to be updated. Doing so could involve flagging and filling in incomplete records, removing dead zombie records, or eliminating duplicate records from some of those 48 million people who switched jobs.

2. Focus on the good stuff

Would you rather have a big bag full of wax lips and raisins or a handful of Snickers and Reese's? That's a no-brainer: You want a portion of "the good stuff" over a whole lot of the bad and useless or downright yucky. The same rules apply to the quality and quantity of marketing contact data.

Having a huge database is useless if it doesn't consist of complete and accurate records from customers and prospects. Good marketing programs start with good data.

3. Maximize with automation

If you're a put-a-bowl-full-of-candy-on-the-porch-so-you-can-focus-on-more-important-things kind of person, then automation is most definitely for you. With the help of most marketing automation systems, you can capture just about any kind of information on customers and prospects, from basic Web-form information to very specific information such as when they last called the customer support desk.

With such detailed data in-hand, rule-based communications can ensure prospects receive timely, relevant marketing messages. For example, if someone watched a particular video, and that person is already a qualified lead, and he works in XYZ industry, the system can serve a highly targeted piece of content.

4. Target wisely

Remember when you'd go out of your way just to trick or treat at the house giving out full-size candy bars? Apply that same strategy and precision when targeting campaigns from your database in order to maximize lead volume and quality.

If you don't have the right information to know whether to include someone in a campaign, don't guess. You'll just scare them off by sending irrelevant content. But, when you complete steps one through three, your data should be complete enough to allow for proper targeting and segmentation. For example, being able to identify what installed technologies a lead is already using will better inform how your technology offering might fit into the lead's current environment.

And if you're still not convinced this approach works, consider this frightening stat: Untargeted campaigns cost nearly 3.6 times as much as targeted campaigns.

5. Combine inbound and outbound

If you're going to take some candy, you have to give it out, too, right? Well, consider the same push and pull—or inbound and outbound approach—for your marketing efforts. Though inbound strategies are effective and generate leads, treating these leads as a group that needs further nurturing is best.

Complement inbound lead generation with outbound marketing tactics such as appointment setting, lead qualification, or email marketing for a more engaging conversation—and for optimal results.

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What other B2B marketing and database "tricks" do you use to generate more meaningful results?

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image of Maribeth Ross

Maribeth Ross is the chief content officer and managing director of Aberdeen Group, a provider of research and content marketing solutions.

Twitter: @MaribethRoss

LinkedIn: Maribeth Ross