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Old and outdated data continues to be the most commonly cited database quality challenge among B2B marketers, according to the latest report [download page] on database strategies and contact acquisition from Demand Gen Report and DiscoverOrg. More than 7 in 10 (71%) cite this as one of their top three issues – but this is down from the 83% stating so in last year’s study.

The two other top challenges cited are: that marketers don’t have time or resources to implement an effective process (62%); and that they don’t have a standard operating procedure for marketing/sales teams to keep data up to date (57%).

Keeping data accurate is key to ensuring messages get through to the right people, so it’s positive to see that that B2B marketers have made some improvement from last year in terms of the frequency of cleansing their data. Last year only 16% of marketers scrubbed their data on a quarterly basis but this year saw an increase to 30% doing so.

With today’s interconnected marketing technology, it can also be a challenge to understand how data is being changed. Again, the trend is positive, with more marketers being aware of when data cleansing has taken place – only around one in four (27%) are now unsure when scrubbing occurs, in contrast to the 46% from a year ago.

To make this happen, nearly half (47%) are using data append vendors, and the same percentage use data enrichment services. In fact, of the third-party vendors, 4 in 10 marketers found that data enrichment vendors were the most effective in supplementing or enriching their customer databases.

But underneath the improvements, the results indicate that marketers may be polarizing in terms of the efficacy of their current data acquisition strategy. There are more marketers that claim they have a “very solid data acquisition strategy” (16% this year vs. 13% last year) but also more say, while they have a strategy, “it isn’t working for us” (9% vs. 3%). Those in the middle, only requiring minor improvements, have stayed the same at 32%.

Issues with data are at the heart of many sales and marketing worries. Research from Dun & Bradstreet (DnB) shows that only half of B2B firms surveyed believed their customer data was complete, accurate and trustworthy. Additionally, DnB found that 8 in 10 (80%) have issues managing the volume, variety and velocity of their data while 82% find that managing data and insight sharing across business areas is a moderate challenge.

Targeting specific segments and identifying key stakeholders are also areas where an increased number of marketers are focused. Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) of respondents named targeting specific segments for better engagement as one of their goals for this year, which is slightly higher than the last (65%). Identifying key stakeholders within target accounts was the second most popular database goal again this year (55% vs. 51%). This is particularly relevant to the growing adoption of account-based marketing, where targeting specific segments and stakeholders is a key component.

Other goals cited among marketers this year are:

  • Collecting prospective buyer behavior to boost engagement and messaging (49%);
  • Growing their database to add as many new contacts as possible (40%); and
  • Identifying and targeting new verticals (29%).

In terms of ownership, the combined departments of sales and marketing was the top pick (26%) in terms of the department responsible accessing and updating their organization’s database, followed by marketing alone (22%). But there is a growing role for operations functions that help keep these complex systems working effectively. Nearly a third (32%) now have an operations team acting as gatekeepers for data, with this total consisting of 15% being marketing ops (up from 10% last year), 12% marketing and sales ops, and the remainder being sales ops (5%).

About the data: The survey is based on responses from 129 B2B marketing and sales professionals across the high-tech industry (50%) and a variety of other verticals. The majority of respondents were from the US (85%) and came from a range of different sized organizations. 54% work for an SMB (less than $50 million in annual revenue), 28% midmarket-sized ($50 million to $1 billion) and 19% work for enterprise-level businesses (more than $1 billion).

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