This is about the time of the year when B2B marketers and sales professionals start sharing their forecasts of trends we are all likely to see in the year ahead. We all think about them, debate them, place our bets and take these into consideration and keep them in mind while developing sales and marketing strategies for the year ahead. So it just seems to make sense that we here at DirectContact share some of our views on what we can expect to see with marketing lists and data for 2009.

Marketing lists and data??? Change? Ofcourse. Why not? If you asked the same question just 15 years ago in 1994, the B2B marketing list would have looked quite different. For starters, it would either be a written list or perhaps an MS Excel, Dbase or FoxPro list which simply had company names, postal addresses, telephone numbers and possibly a fax number. It wouldn’t be unusual to see lists without “website urls” and “email addresses” which became a standard field in most company databases some time later. So if you are a skeptic, take my word for it…marketing data and lists do evolve!

Moving a few years ahead, 2008 has seen a lot of activity and technology which has impacted the way we sell. It’s been the year of Twitter, inbound lead generation, online marketing, SEO, content development, marketing automation, lead nurturing and a whole lot more. The absolute fundamentals of sales and marketing may not change but the approach and tools certainly have been so its only natural that the lists that we use and the data in our CRMs also get impacted by these trends and we will demand better and higher quality data. If I had to pick one word to summarize how data in the form of CRMs, cold calling lists, email marketing lists and others would change in 2009 it would be “Rich”. Marketers will demand richer data which will be reflective of what data they need to equip themselves for the kind of marketing and sales programs that are relevant in 2009.  What has become relevant is the multi-touch approach that companies have been adopting where they use multiple channels from email, phone calls, website content, newsletters, direct mail, social networking like Linkedin, Twitter & blogs to connect with companies and decision makers rather than sticking to just one or two modes of communication.

Whats the result on lists and data? I believe we will start seeing more companies need richer data on their target accounts and decsion makers. We will see data points such as Linkedin account, company blog and Twitter id become standard fields in many databases. Companies will demand these details to connect with their customers, comment on their blogs, follow them on twitter and connect with them through these channels. Even inbound leads through online form fills which are incomplete will only be really valuable with complete contact data and the more information you have on your accounts and customers, the more you understand them, the better informed your own reach out will be. 2009 will see a shift in focus on quality of data i.e.

  • Richer company or account data including detailed profiles, product lines / offerings, news, intelligence, blogs and online channels
  • Inbound leads that have been cleaned, completed, qualified and enriched with additional data points
  • Decision makers which have been qualified, relavent or useful for the database and can be nurtured till ready
  • Complete contact details for decision makers including direct phone numbers, email addresses, profiles, blog links, social/business network profiles, Skype / Twitter ID, RSS feed etc
So the next time you are looking to build a list, you may want to add some more data points it.

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