Getting content that’s relevant and engaging to the right people continues to be a big challenge in the world of B2B marketing. Which is why regular checks to test the quality and accuracy of your persona and contact data is crucial, in order to achieve success across your sales and marketing objectives.
Salesforce.com joined forces with LinkedIn and Data.com, to analyse over than 15 million data points over four years starting in autumn 2014. Their goal was to produce detailed audience insights that would help marketers understand how to deliver campaigns and get results with increased accuracy. In an interview Mathew Sweezey, Principal of Marketing Insights at Salesforce.com, Brian Carroll of B2B Lead Blog discovers what he thinks are the key points to learn from.
Gathering information vs email addresses
As Sweezey points out, the only thing Salesforce can tell us about a contact is whether their email address bounces. However, in order to enrich your knowledge when it comes to your target prospects, it’s not just about gathering email address. It’s about getting more information, for example the size of an account, it’s growth rate, churn rate, preferences as well as demographics. As marketers, we may tend to underestimate how much movement occurs within an organisation.
Although an email address may still be valid, this does not necessarily mean the persona is. A contact may have changed roles, moved departments, so although their email technically does not bounce – the information you’re sending will. Rather than thinking of a persona as a set of defined characteristics, think of it more as fluid, shaped and changed by growth and churn. Contacts will leave and enter your target market space, which is why it’s essential to keep your information updated as well as your email addresses.
The value of ping testing
Looking at email addresses alone, there is so much more than meets the eye besides checking if an email bounces. Based on the analysis ping testing offers, as a marketer you can discover more insights about the characteristics of an address. Since data management is at the core of everything we do here at IZEN, ping testing is something we fold back into this service for our clients in order to provide more accurate results. Analysis includes:
- Valid emails – neither disposable nor catch all (validNoDisposableNoCatchAll) – emails that are of the best quality and verify that sent messages will be accepted.
- Disposable emails (disposable) – valid emails that from the perspective of the mailing list owner, are mostly useless. Usually hosted by disposable email services such as TrashMail and Mailinator etc, contacts tend to keep their email addresses for a very short time, mostly for the purpose of a single registration only. Messages delivered to these addresses are rarely read by humans and deleted within minutes.
- Catch all domain emails (catchAll) – accepted as valid emails, however the mail server accepts emails from any address on that given domain – rendering it impossible to distinguish between valid and invalid emails. If the address is acquired via a double opt-in, it may be treated as valid since it comes from a reliable process. Otherwise best to avoid.
- Invalid emails, valid address format (invalidGoodFormat) – emails have good syntax, however are invalid or unusable by the mail server. Messages will be rejected either due to the account being cancelled, or the inbox becoming full.
- Email addresses, invalid format (invalidBadFormat) – these have not failed the syntax check and cannot be treated as valid email addresses, eg if they contain space characters.
- Email addresses with validity that can’t be checked (unknown) – emails that are impossible to verify. The most common reason is that the mail server is configured to refuse validation services. Other reasons include the server being unreachable at that time, being down for maintenance, or experiencing a network error. These emails should be treated as hosted on Catch all domains; if acquired using a reliable method, it might be OK to use them. Avoid otherwise.
Ever-changing communication preferences
One thing Sweezey suggests is the possibility of holding back from attempting to acquire email addresses as the first port of call. By taking a step back, we can determine the best way to communicate with our contacts before deciding to collate this information. If social media for example is deemed the most effective way to engage, surely it makes sense to invest more in social media marketing? Social media has a longer shelf life than email. Although email can help you keep up with ensuring your personas are still valid, it’s worth remembering that social media does have a longer shelf life.
At IZEN our daily practice when building in data is to ask people what their communication preferences are. We find that not only do people have different preferred methods of engagement, but that they also wish to be communicated with at different points in the sales cycle via different methods. While they may at one point wish to receive links to video updates via Twitter, another time they may request a whitepaper or case study to be emailed. The bottom line is that content consumption as well as communication preferences vary at different points in the vendor sales cycle and customer bi-cycle, something that you need to align your marketing strategy with.
To get more insight from your customer and prospect data or guidance on how to ensure you’re getting the most from your ping testing, contact us today.
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