marketing data

By Ben Tindall

There is no doubt that the quality of a B2B brand’s data impacts on its performance, both positively and negatively, yet during the Covid-19 pandemic many organisations have overlooked their usual data hygiene procedures. This could have serious consequences over the next few months.

Customer and consumer behaviours have altered considerably since March and brands need to know what their target audience looks like today, not six months ago. So why has the robustness of many brands’ marketing data sets been eroded during the pandemic, when we all know that marketers are only ever as good as their data?

Well, many organisations have been (and remain) in survival mode and the monitoring of their data has simply not been a priority at a time when they have been furloughing staff or moving people into new roles or departments. Yet, as marketing budgets start to creep up again, it is essential data is up-to-date and reliable.

“Changes in behaviour during the pandemic mean it is crucial that information from different systems is collated into a single database.”

After all, what is the point of developing creative and engaging campaigns if many of the people you want to notice them do not even get the chance to see them? Or some of those who do see them are no longer within your target audience.

What we do know is that having robust data gives a brand a competitive advantage and boosts its reputation and trust. It can also save brands money, improve marketing decision-making and increase response rates.

Failure to tackle data quality now could damage the productivity and morale of sales and marketing teams and ultimately hit revenues.

Months of upheaval

Some brands will soon discover that, after months of marketing inactivity, they are left with inaccurate and duplicate customer records. The details of existing and target customers may have changed and this will raise concerns over GDPR compliance. Are marketing messages being sent on the legal basis of ‘legitimate interest’ actually going to people who have moved out of a particular industry during the pandemic?

Changes in behaviour during the pandemic mean it is crucial that information from different systems is collated into a single database, so companies get a better understanding of their audiences’ preferences and interests. This is vital as digital marketing becomes increasingly important. Brands also crave a single view of a contact in their CRM system, which can only come from having a central store of information.

Indeed, our own parent company at Merit, Dods Group, is a perfect example of why it is essential to have robust data sets in the current climate. As a business information company, it runs popular international events and needs to ensure its marketing reaches the right delegate and sponsor audience. Much of the data for 2021 is now incorrect, despite only being developed in March. Every part of the team’s marketing – whether for events, media, training or business intelligence – depends on data being current, compliant and trusted.

Merit is using its data processing and automation capabilities to help Dods improve and analyse its data, create content and improve its overall marketing – just as we do for our other clients. Our team of more than 1,000 researchers and bespoke AI solutions are also assisting hundreds of businesses and organisations across the world to solve what is becoming a pressing issue around data quality.

When it comes to sourcing precision-targeted prospect data there’s a need for a multi-level research solution, which combines automation, web and tele-research to harvest data from a variety of sources including HTML, PDFs, documents and spreadsheets. The result has been the delivery of more than 10 million records for brands including Informa and RBI.

These are unpredictable times, but our data experts are working tirelessly to gather huge volumes of intelligence which underpins some of the world’s biggest brands. If data sets become dormant they become unreliable, which can be bad news for marketers at a time when, more than ever, data is integral to everything they do.

Merit has 16 years’ experience helping clients such as Dow Jones, construction sales leads business Glenigan, and data insights provider Ascential to optimise, fine-tune and integrate their data using a number of high-end solutions. We combine data collection tools, web watching, customised apps and telephone research to ensure brands’ marketing data is in peak condition.

Ben Tindall is sales and marketing director at Merit Group.

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