Data and the art of business marketing

david-coghlan-headshotIn today’s multi-channel environment, with technology constantly evolving and smart device ownership increasing beyond the human population. There are more ways to communicate with customers and prospects than ever before however traditional marketing communication methods, when used in the right way and as part of your full marketing mix, can still deliver great results for B2B marketers.


The speed, efficiency and low cost of connecting with potential customers using direct email means it remains a valuable tool. It’s among the few channels where you can instantly see those who have and have not received your message; those who have reacted or not; those who do not wish to receive further emails and other valuable information. Over time ,even this insight will help you develop and improve your email campaigns.

So how do you get the best out of email? Plan, plan and plan again.

  1. Message – define what you want to achieve with your campaign – and be realistic.  A one-off email campaign is very unlikely to convert all recipients to customers, the days of the e-mail blast are long gone. Make sure your message is relevant and importantly it is a joined up element of your broader marketing conversation that you are having across other channels.
  2. Targeting – who are you sending your email to? Do you have a relevant, targeted and up-to-date email list? Investing in an accurate email marketing list may be the best option.  Using incorrect, out-of-date contact details means your message is not being received and while it may seem an easy low cost option to just blast your entire existing database, you will potentially still waste money and brand reputation especially if you don’t further segment your database. Segmenting your data also means you can tailor your message to the audience even further, increasing the chance of a positive response and demonstrating that you understand the issues important to your audience.
  3. Content – vary your content; no-one likes to read the same things repeatedly. Making your emails engaging, interesting and personalised will have much more impact and remember, it doesn’t all need to be sales focused. You might think your latest gadget is the best solution for everybody; the reality is your audience just might not get it. No matter how many times you say so, you might not convince them otherwise and they might just opt out of your list or even flag you as a spammer.
  4. Share – as well as links to your website, also make sure you link to your social media accounts like Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. This way, you’re making it easier for prospects to find out more about your business and how you can help them. This way even if they don’t buy you can keep them engaged elsewhere.

Direct Mail (DM)

From a simple letter, through to cleverly mailed gadgets and gizmos, DM can be both effective and affordable. With the dawn of digital this may be even more so, as receiving something interesting and engaging in the post can be a welcome change to the usual digital ‘noise’ creating a talking point to encourage response and build engagement with your brand.

Making your DM useful and personalising your message to address your customers needs will help build your relationship, and when used with other marketing channels can really enhance the cut through and response rate that you achieve. Of course, there is a cost and this investment should be considered only if you are confident in the quality of your business address mailing list. Wasted direct mail will cost your business money and can also negatively impact your reputation.

Making sure your campaign is a success

  1. Message – Know what message you want to get across, how you want to communicate and who you want to communicate with. What is the purpose of your communication and what impression are you trying to create?
  2. Targeting – Contacting the right people with the right message at the right time will increase your chances of success. Careful targeting and a good business to business mailing list should be the starting point to help you make the most of your time and more importantly your budget.
  3. Content – What format is your mailing going to take? Talking to printers and other DM specialists can give you practical advice based on real life experience. A cautionary note however, make sure that your choice of DM type and style effectively matches the message and brand image you are trying to create. The great idea you came up with in your office could turn into an expensive flop, so focus on the core business objectives before getting ‘creative’.


Contacting potential customers with outbound telephone calls is undoubtedly the quickest way to get in touch with people. It’s also one of the hardest things to do well.

It does get results and is still used very effectively by many businesses, however integrating outbound telesales as part of a cross channel  marketing strategy is the ideal method to get better results and in a much more leveraged manner.

To help your telesales gets off to a good start, plan and develop your telesales campaign in the same  way as your other marketing activity.

  1. Message – What is the purpose of your call, what do you want to achieve? This doesn’t need to be a sale, it could be as simple as identifying key decision makers, capturing contact details or booking an appointment.  Iterative message development and good communication skills are vital for success here. Sharing good results across the team and recording phone calls is really the only way to effectively enhance the effectiveness of your outbound telesales operation.
  2. Targeting – Once you’re happy with your message and before you even pick up the telephone, you have to know who you’re calling. You can get all the other elements right, but if your business telesales list is out of date, you’ll soon find you’re making unnecessary calls which will reflect on your chances of success and potentially demotivate your telesales team.
  3. Content – Write it down! Writing a few bullet points will mean you don’t miss out anything important and don’t get sidetracked.  However, communicating by telephone is a skill in itself and you should practice. You don’t want to sound wooden or overly-scripted, it’s got to be natural and try a smile; you might be surprised how different you come across with a smile on your face.

Regardless of whether you’re opting for marketing by telephone, email, direct mail, or a combination, the key component is the data that underpins your activity. A fully integrated multi-channel marketing campaign can be complex and challenging at times but if your data is correct then you can make the whole operation considerably easier and more effective. By putting your customer or prospect at the heart of your communications and making sure that what you say across all of your communication channels makes sense, both in isolation as well as together, you will see a much greater return on your B2B marketing activity.