What is Data-Driven Marketing, Really?

Your sales, marketing, and customer success is *only* as good as your data.

Whether it’s for qualifying new leads for sales, triggering personalized emails, creating effective ad audiences, or something different - you need to have access to reliable, accurate, up-to-date data to plug into your tools.

But what data matters?

As marketers, it’s easy to get lost in a blur of different tools and techniques. Our data gets siloed away in one of dozens of tools we use. How can you be data driven with tools that don’t talk to each other?!

What’s important to remember is everything ties back to a customer. There’s always a human who we can describe, and who has behavior we can track.

Therefore, your marketing data gathering methods should focus on your customers and what best describes them. And ideal customer profiles help to define what that data is.

If you haven’t already defined your ideal customer profile, check out our guide here. Your definition of your “ICP” needs to address three areas before it is useful to building customer segments and personalized messages.

The first trick to effective ICPs? Only use nouns and verbs to describe your ideal customer profiles. Nouns describe objects, places and “things”. Verbs describe actions and states. This cuts the fluff and makes it much easier to tie data to them.

Sourcing data for “nouns” in your ideal customer profile

The nouns in your ideal customer profile are going to be things like a name, email address, job title, company name, industry, and so on.

Nouns are usually tracked and recorded into tools from form submissions. These can be user-submitted (like an account sign up or demo request) or team submitted (like notes from a sales calls).

This usually ends up in your marketing automation platform, sales CRM, and product database. Each of these ought to be rich sources of data for the nouns you need.

If you aren’t tracking and recording the data, you aren’t able to, or you need to backfill a large database, then you need to buy it. For instance, tracking the technologies a company uses might be a significant factor (like it is for us at Hull) as to whether a new lead is a fit.

Without buying data, we’d push the work downstream and it becomes someone else’s work (like sales having to arrange “discovery calls” to ask all the basic questions). Instead, we’re able to source the data we need to give us a full enough picture to qualify a lead without the manual effort.

Two third party enrichment we and a number of customers use at Hull are Clearbit and Datanyze.

Clearbit is a database of all the companies and all the people at those companies. You can find matching companies and people, and enrich an email address, domain name, or IP address with a complete profile of the person or company. They’re unique in having a particularly good mid-market dataset, not just big companies.

Datanyze is a database of technologies used by different companies. You can find companies with certain tools and enrich a domain name with their full technology profile. They’re unique in having a database that’s refreshed daily, and includes technologies out of the page (like Salesforce, backend databases etc.).

For more individual person profiles (as opposed to work person profiles), take a look at Pipl.com too.

Sourcing data for “verbs” in your ideal customer profile.

Verbs are actions people have taken. The verbs in your ideal customer profile are going to be things like page views, email opens, logins, form submissions and so on.

User actions are tracked and then recorded into your analytics tools (for client-side tracking) and your product database (for server-side tracking). Emails and other “out-of-the-webpage” tools can also track reactions.

Often, it’s not possible to assign actions to a known person or company (as in your CRM). These actions get stored as cookies instead of profiles. Where possible, you want to join these back up again so you have all your contacts actions together with their form submissions (and other nouns). This is usually done by passing “hidden fields” through the form that the user doesn’t see but contains the ID in the cookie so they can be joined up again.

To track actions from all the properties you control involves setting up this tracking. Whilst analytics tools say they’re one line of code to install, there’s a lot more value in defining specific events to track too. This can get tedious setting up tracking for multiple tools. This is why we recommend Segment to track data once, and then send it everywhere (including Hull).

Outside of your website and app, there’s a plethora of user actions to tap into amongst search and social data. Though search data is becoming more and more walled off by the search engines, social data remains available. Tools like Mention make it possible to track keywords and key phrases from across the web and social media platforms.

Use nouns and verbs in combination

Nouns are generally measures of fit. Is the company the right size? Is this the right person for sales to talk to? Are they a fit for our sales, success and support team right now?

Verbs are generally measures of intent. Have they requested a demo? Have they looked at pricing? Have they responded to our calls and emails?

Used together, they make it easy to identify highly qualified leads, precisely target emails, manage effective ad audiences, and more.

For instance, see how Lengow automated lead qualification of demo requests using data from Segment, Datanyze and Clearbit through Hull before passing to their CRM. This lead to them responding to best fit leads much faster, and fixing their 50% drop off after demo requests.

So sync sync sync!

Even if you’re able to get your hands on all the data you need to best identify your ideal customer profiles, you still have a problem.

If your sales, marketing, support and success teams can’t get the data they need in the tools they want to use - then all your data and effort goes to waste.

How well are your tools synced together? Are you running a well-oiled machine or a Frankenstack? Take this assessment to find out.


Ed Fry

Prev 'Ed of Growth at Hull, working on all things content, acquisition & conversion. Conference speaker, flight hacker, prev. employee #1 at inbound.org (acq. HubSpot). Now at Behind The Growth

If you've questions or ideas, I'd love to geek out together on Twitter or LinkedIn. 👇