Mar 11, 2019
Data enrichment might seem like a boring topic, but companies that are employing advanced tools like ReachForce use it to not only correct and enrich contact data, but to improve lead quality and close rates.
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, ReachForce Senior Director of Marketing Kristi Bjornaas talks about the evolving field of data validation and enrichment and shares real-world examples of companies that are using tools like ReachForce to dramatically improve marketing ROI.
This week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast is brought to you by our sponsor, IMPACT Live, the most immersive and high energy learning experience for marketers and business leaders. IMPACT Live takes place August 6-7, 2019 in Hartford Connecticut and is headlined by Marcus Sheridan along with special guests including world-renowned Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith and Drift CEO and Co-Founder David Cancel.
Inbound Success Podcast listeners can save 10% off the price of tickets with the code "SUCCESS".
Some highlights from my conversation with Kristi include:
Resources from this episode:
Listen to the podcast to learn how companies are using cutting edge data validation and enrichment tools to improve the volume and quality of inbound leads.
Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to
the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host
Kathleen Booth and this week, my guest is Kristi Bjornaas, who is
the Sr. Director of Marketing for ReachForce. Welcome Kristi.
Kristi Bjornaas (Guest): Thank you for having me.
Kristi and Kathleen recording this episode
Kathleen: Yeah. You guys do some interesting things with data enrichment. And I'm excited to learn more about that. Before we jump into the topic, tell our audience a little bit about yourself and about ReachForce.
Kristi: Yeah. So I've been with ReachForce about a year and a half now. And ReachForce has been around for, I think going on 11 years. And they've always been in the data adjacent space. And data's not really the sexiest topic that marketing and sales teams deal with. It's kind of a necessary evil if you will.
I think the interesting thing about ReachForce has been they've evolved over time as the needs around data have changed. So starting from like, people need data, right? They needed lists, they needed contacts back 11 years ago when there wasn't as much focus on compliance/insecurity issues where they would, here's my criteria of my audience, give me a list.
And over time we've evolved with the changing of technology to actually have a solution that's an end to end data management and enrichment solution. Our data's coming in from all different places. It's from your forms, from lists, from sales teams, from other tools and integrations you have, and it's coming in bad.
And I know as a marketer, I don't really trust my data. There's tons of duplicates. It's missing information.
So we try to do all these manual efforts to clean that up and to kind of plug in those important data points that we need for things like segmentation. And so we've evolved into having this complete suite that kind of protects your data, so you can have some more confidence in it when you're running your campaigns, reporting -- all of those things. And you can reduce the time spent on actually doing that manually.
Kathleen: This is a topic that's really close to my heart because I, oh boy. I've been at IMPACT for almost 2 years now. And it's sort of like good and bad. I came on as Head of Marketing and this is a company that generates a tremendous amount of traffic and leads. Tremendous amount. And I can say that because I spent 10 years prior to coming over here at my own agency and I know, I have that basis of comparison.
I walked in thinking "This is amazing, we get so much traffic, we get so many leads. There's literally 100's of 1,000s of people in our contact database." And when you're presented with that as a marketer, you think this is going to be like a layup right?
But I walked in only to discover that while we do have 100s of 1,000s of people in our contact database, a lot of those contacts aren't usable.
Some of them have bad email addresses. Some of them have moved on and then the email address is no longer good. Others just gave us a bad email address. First names, don't get me started on first names.
Kathleen: I'm a big believer in personalization and starting emails with "Hi Kristi," instead of "Hey there." But we quickly discovered that our first names were just so overwhelmingly inaccurate or riddled with errors that we would do more harm than good by using them. And so it's so frustrating as a marketer to have this huge database and not feel like I can use it.
That was one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on.
Kathleen: Because I wanted to talk more about how you fix this problem.
Kristi: Yeah. I remember the days of like sending an email, and before you hit send, you mentioned like, first name and personalization. You kind of like take that baited breath right before you click send because you're like "I hope everything is right. I hope I'm not missing any first names. Or I'm hoping that they're spelled right. Or that there's no issues."
We've gotten a little bit better over time improving our ability to do better personalization and segmentation. But yeah, it's definitely scary when you have all of these contacts and you're kind of like "Well I know my data's bad but send."
It can be scary, but there's a solution to it, which is really great.
And the impacts, beyond just that send or that personalization, are so much more far reaching into your entire marketing and sales process that we really even give it credit.
Kathleen: Yeah. I will be honest. To this day, I still quake in my boots every time I hit send on a big email. And I know for a fact that if you talk to the six people on my marketing team, every single one of them would say the same thing. It's a terrifying experience because if it goes wrong, it can have massive consequences.
And I'm a member of a few Slack groups for marketers. Like one, Online Geniuses, which has a lot of members. A lot from all around the globe. And you should see the conversations that happen around things like that. And the terror that it strikes in the heart of marketers.
It's like one of those universal feelings we have. I think when we go to send things out, so definitely something I know lots of people listening are going to be interested in.
Let's go back to what you were saying about ReachForce, because most marketers who are listening to this, probably have, hopefully have, a CRM or some kind of a database that they're working from.
Kristi: I hope so.
Kathleen: Yeah, exactly.
I mean sometimes it's surprising. There are instances where that does not exist. But for the most part, I think the type of people that listen to this podcast probably already have that in place.
So your tool is not a part of a CRM or a database, it's a third party tool, correct?
Kristi: Right. Yeah, so we have a whole suite that has different tools within it to help manage the quality and completeness of your database. So a form solution that makes sure your incoming leads -- we're not an actual form, it's just a single line of code that you use on your existing form.
So if you have any kind of form technology on your site that submits into a database somewhere, we can easily kind of tie in and enrich that form so that you're not having to ask all those questions that ...
You know one of our customers is Marketo and they used to ask 10 questions on all of their fields, on all of their landing pages, and they reduce it down to four. And it's just some single line of code in some hidden fields on the back that the user never sees, but they were able to see a 34% increase in to their conversion on those landing pages just because they reduced their forms to four.
But they didn't sacrifice any of that really healthy data because we have this third party, you know we're doing all that manual effort for you on our side. We have a matching algorithm that takes all this data, right?
If you think of data as this big kind of thing that lives out in the cloud, we have a matching algorithm in which we kind of layer different data sets on and have data scientist that makes sure the accuracy and completeness of that kind of larger data set is there. So that when you submit that form, or we run that cleanse on that database, that we're able to kind of plug in and verify some of those data points that you have.
Kathleen: So I want to dig into that a little bit deeper because I've looked at a variety of data enrichment solutions. And I feel like there are some that have integrations, let's say, with your CRM or they may or may not. Sometimes you even have to download a spreadsheet from your CRM and upload it into their system. And those work by going through data you already have and correcting it or appending to it, adding to it with additional information.
It sounds like what ReachForce does is a little bit different, is that correct? That it works at the form level?
Kristi: Well it works at the form level, but you think about all the different ways that your data's coming into your system. It's coming in through forms and sometimes people will be just solving the forms challenge, they're not solving all the other challenges. But it's also coming in from other integrations. Sales are putting in a lead that they might have gotten, but they may just put like the name and the email but nothing else, no other information.
And also you go to trade shows, you have offline things that do happen in which you're uploading these lists. So there's all these different ways that lists can come in, and we want to make sure that your existing database, so you said at IMPACT you've 100s and 1,000s of contacts. You acquired those in some way and it doesn't really matter where they came from. But you need to kind of know who they are -- who needs to be taken out of the database, who's junk, who's moved on.
And so what we do, is we take that whole database and we do have an integration with the solution where we turn it on and it runs your entire database to validate, standardize. So standardized formatting of a first name, or formatting an address.
So there's a couple layers of functionality happening. So we first kind of do that verification, is this junk? Is it a duplicate? And then we verify is the email deliverable. And then we go and standardize and format all of those fields like first name and address and phone number even. You know if you have autodialers, you need certain formatting of that for those to work.
So we go do all those things and then once we say this is a good contact, let's actually enrich it, and push it into the database and append. So we do custom fields in your CRM or marketing automation platform that we will enrich into on top of it.
So I like to say it's this really robust solution -- that we're not just solving one of your data quality challenges, we're kind of solving all of them within this kind of platform that is meeting your data where it is, whether it's in your database now or it's going to come in later.
We make sure it's in real time accurate and complete rather than like you said, there's a tool, you go and you import a list, you export a list. We do have that as one functionality because list is something that we do in marketing and sales, we'll probably never get away from that. But we want to make sure that you clean it up before you put it in ever.
Kristi: Don't even waste your time. I have kind of internally said "Well, we have this kind of list functionality and we were rolling it out, it was in beta." I sponsored like a third party research report. And the company was so excited, there was like this 600 downloads of the report. This is our biggest one ever. I was like "I'm going to put it to the test."
So I actually ran it through and found out that only 50% of those downloads were people that we even cared about. So we were able to actually negotiate like an additional piece of content because of it.
So it helped me measure the ROI of that campaign just in terms of the quality. And I never even downloaded ... 50% of that list that was not usable, I didn't even upload that into the system because not only do you have data cost around that in my CRM, but also that's going to impact deliverability of my emails.
Just like I was saying earlier, just far reaching impacts of just bad data beyond just that kind of first initial touch are really lasting.
Kathleen: That's really interesting because I mean I selfishly think of data enrichment in terms of how can I know more about my audience and how can I improve the accuracy of the data that I have so that I'm more successful in my outreach to them.
But I think it's interesting what you just brought up about the power of data enrichment to help you decide in the first place whether it's even worth putting the data into your system or not. And even more interesting to me, was that you said the data might be correct, but you might not be interested in that audience.
Kathleen: You might say "This is a valid email address and a valid name and a valid job title, but I don't want to market to that person."
Kathleen: So why put it in there?
Kristi: Right. And I feel like for a long time, it was kind of like a numbers game. Like it's okay if some of them aren't good fits, it's the number, look at how many downloads we had.
Especially in a world where we're needing to be super competitive, super relevant with our messaging, all that extra is just noise. If they're never going to buy from you, they're never going to be a good fit, you don't need them.
And I think that's really important because I think especially with inbound, you kind of cast this larger, wider net. And how do you actually take that wider net and say, "Okay that's great. We really only care about these people and how can we get closer to the people that we're attracting are filling that net. And less of kind of the noise so that we can just gain more precision in our nurturing beyond that initial conversion."
Kristi: So we have a customer Serenova, who they increased, so they shortened their forms first off because they're using our smart form solution. But they were able to improve their inbound growth by 500%.
But you can imagine what that looks like in terms of quality or fit. Yeah it might have improved it 500%, but how did they know like which of those are really who they want to target?
So they actually were able to create this account scoring algorithm for like an ABM approach to those inbound leads coming in to say we care about two fields, more than anything, to identify fit and how we actually prioritize and follow up.
So they look at revenue and industry. They think of it as a little quadrant. If it's a high amount of revenue in these three industries, then there are eight accounts, and this is going to go to our enterprise level reps and they're going to get followed up with immediately.
The other people that are maybe in that lower left quadrant that are smaller companies and not really a good fit audience, they might go down a nurture track instead. So they were actually really able to segment that significant growth on their forms just by shortening them, but also that enrichment piece allowed them to be smarter in who they kept in the database or how they actually followed up and win.
Kathleen: Okay, I have so many questions I want to ask you.
Kristi: I know I think I just opened up a whole other can of worms there.
Kathleen: So let's go back to, you said something very similar when you talked about Marketo and when you talked a Serenova in that both of them were able to shorten their forms.
So can you tell me exactly what you mean by that? And how that happened?
Kristi: Yeah. So in inbound, we are so focused on the conversion. We do everything to attract people to our site and to give them an offer that's compelling enough that they're willing to fill out this form.
And we do so much to optimize everything else but that form. Because people are like "Well, sales needs to know industry, they need to know their job title. We need to know their revenue, so let's ask all those fields." So we try to-
Kathleen: Nobody ever wants to tell you what their revenue is.
Kristi: Well no-
Kathleen: And you put that question in a form, and you definitely reduce the number of people who are going to complete it.
Or even accuracy. If you think about it, just an end user at a company and individual contributor at a company, I might not know our revenue accurately.
Kristi: And so I'm just going to, if you have a drop down, it's great that you have that drop down, it makes it a little bit easier. But I'm going to pick the wrong one or I'm just going to pick the first on that list or just kind of mindless select on. So your accuracy ... It's probably not even accurate or right in what they're submitting. And not only are you turning away, but you're probably getting wrong information if they are converting.
But we kind of keep that same form, we ask the same fields on every single landing page. And so we really are looking at optimizing that form because the form is really that trigger event.
And so I think it's still important to ask progressive profiling questions, but there are other, better ways to get that information that's more reliable than asking that individual prematurely on your site.
Use that opportunity for progressive profiling to ask what's your buying timeframe, are you in market, other things that are more relevant that you can't necessarily get elsewhere. And so you don't have to boil the ocean with your forms.
Kathleen: So are you saying, sorry to interrupt but I want to make sure that ...
Kristi: Go ahead.
Kathleen: So are you saying that the way it works, with ReachForce at least, is like I might have like Marketo, a 10 question form, and one of my questions might be industry and one might be revenue.
Are you suggesting that to the end user, when I go to that site, I am only seeing let's say name, email address, job title, company name or something like that. And then the rest of those fields are hidden, but ReachForce is basically filling them in based on, it's like taking the information I'm giving in the first four fields and saying "now I know the answers to these others" and so the user never needs to see them.
Is that what's happening?
Kristi: Right. Yeah. So I actually, on my own site, I only ask four questions: First name, last name, company and email. And we take a couple of different things. We'll take like the IP address of some inferred data as well as their, when they plug in their email, there's some complexity around some generic ISPs.
But based off of that email and that inferred data from the IP information, we're able to suggest what their company is.
So if I'm filling out KBjornaas@ReachForce, I go click on that company field and those are the only fields that I'm seeing. I'm going to select my company ReachForce in Austin, Texas. And based off that...
Kathleen: From a drop down?
Kristi: From a drop down.
Kathleen: That ReachForce has populated.
Kristi: Um-hmm. Right. Yep.
And in realtime, we're going to append 150 plus fields directly into your CRM so that your lead scoring is right the first time. When you route that lead, it's routed correctly. It's not kind of bouncing around to other people, trying to figure out where they're located.
And so you're improving your conversion, but you're getting so much really healthy, accurate information on the back end that first time.
So you don't waste your opportunity to progressively profile, you don't lose any momentum. If a hot leads coming in, you're going to know about it immediately. Your fits, part of your scoring's going to be complete because you don't have to have to ask it on the form fill.
We're able to do account firmagraphic information as well as some contact level information, business card data only. So their kind of business entity of whom they are.
So their job title comes through on that, what college they maybe went to, what are their expertise that they're endorsed for on LinkedIn, stuff like that.
Kathleen: That's interesting.
Kristi: So you can think about all the things that you can do with all that granular amount of information to kind of personalize that experience post-conversion. So you don't sacrifice your conversion rate because you're asking all these questions. We're able to give that to you and you kind of take the burden off the user to do that.
Kathleen: Yeah, I like it for two reasons. And so full disclosure, we've looked at using ReachForce and it's something that I'm really interested in. So listeners, that's part of why I wanted to have Kristi on. And one of the reasons it appealed to me is that for example, we're starting to do more events as a company. And some of these events are location specific. And I want to be able to market to people, just for an example, who are in Connecticut.
Now there's nothing more annoying than going into a CRM and seeing in the state field, sometimes CT, sometimes Connecticut, sometimes it's spelled wrong.
Kristi: Oh yeah.
Kathleen: Sometimes it's blank. And so standardizing that, and that's one of the reasons I liked your product is that it has the drop down, it populates. And so people don't have to type in their answer.
It also, I feel like it saves time on the part of the user because it's so much easier for me if I just see Connecticut just popped up and I'm going to click it as opposed to having to scroll through a list of states.
So I liked that a lot, but I also like that the user does have the ability to correct it if it's wrong. Because particularly with location data as you know, IP addresses don't always give you the right information.
Sometimes somebody visits your site and they're traveling through an airport and you get one IP address, there's so many reasons that you can have faulty location information, so I love that drop down pops up and feeds you an answer, but if it's not correct you can correct it.
And so I think that an interesting thing about business today is that you can have remote workers, you can have large enterprises that have multiple locations. And that's another thing that it accounts for.
So say if ReachForce had multiple offices, it would bring up a list of all of our different offices. And the users could then select which one they would most likely, they would kind of tie themselves to.
So even if they're in a different state, at a conference or something like that, they're based off of all the information that we know about them, they'll be able to select the right location.
That way even for a remote worker, we're not going to give you like their home address, but you can get the site level on which they would identify to, maybe they travel there once a year. So we give you that kind of corporate hierarchy information.
So you might be a business that sells office equipment to locations, but other businesses sell to, they don't sell to specific sites, they sell to the headquarters. So we actually provide that layer of information up the corporate hierarchy.
So depending on how you sell, you can also kind of make those decisions. Like we sell technology. And so we sell to the headquarters, we're not selling to individual site levels. So we only look at that information. So we have some flexibility with, depending on what your business is, to provide different levels of information to you.
So back to Serenova, you said that they were able to grow, I forget how you phrased it, but it was like they had inbound growth of something like 500% increase?
Kathleen: Talk to me about what you meant by that.
Kristi: It'd be really hard to find one variable to anything we do that's going to significantly grow something, but they took an initiative to focus on inbound, and at the core of that was their conversions and the ability to convert.
So they were creating more content but also shortened their fields. And so when they shortened those fields and created all this content, they saw this massive growth in their conversion rate from those inbound leads specifically.
And I think it's really interesting about their story because I think often you have this whole marketing and sales initiative. Okay is this a marketing initiative or is this a sales initiative? And so inbound is such a thing that us marketers care about.
I think the sales team cares when they get the leads, but they were actually able to tie that growth down to what it meant to their pipeline, their sales pipeline. Their ability to better forecast because they were better able to segment them out that way. They saw a 27% increase in their pipeline from inbound.
So they were able to see that 500% of inbound growth, that marketing metric, and actually tie that into a 27% increase in their pipeline. So that kind of perked sales up to be like this inbound growth that marketing's bragging about, like actually has real revenue impact to us in sales.
And so I think that was, looking at those opportunities to say how can I take what I'm doing on the marketing side and really tie it into the sales, what the business is really going to care about is important? I thought that was really cool that they were able to kind of correlate and tie the two together.
I've never met a marketer who hasn't experienced a sales person saying to them the leads you're sending me suck. Never met-
Kristi: I hate that conversation.
Kathleen: Yeah. It happens to everyone. And a lot of the times, it happens when you as a marketer are saying "Hey, we're sending you a lot of leads." And you might be. And in many cases, there's a high volume that inbound marketing can generate.
But when the sales team comes back and says "Yeah there's a lot of them but they're all terrible." That seems to be something that we've all heard. And so it's interesting to hear that it really translated into actual pipeline growth for them.
And I think this comes back to one of the reasons I do this podcast, because you know I always used to hear these stories or marketers getting amazing results. Like doubling conversion rates and revenue and traffic and this and that. And I always felt frustrated that I couldn't figure out exactly what they were doing to get those results. And it's not always like a big strategy that they're employing or some magic behind their content that's getting better results.
I have found through now doing this, I think I've done something like 80 interviews at this point, I've found that more often than not it's very little things that add up.
And this is a great example of that because, like what you said earlier about not even putting the data into your CRM if it's not good, that is a very little thing that can have a huge impact because if you don't put crummy contacts into your database, then naturally your ability to nurture the ones that you do put in is going to be better. And the likelihood that they convert, is going to be higher.
So if you're listening and you've ever wondered how people magically improve their conversion rates, that's the one small, simple thing that you can do to do that really effectively. So I think that's what I'm so interested in about data enrichment.
Kristi: Yeah. I always talk about data is involved in every single thing we do. Every email we send, every list we build, our scoring, every piece of technology that we use, it all relies on data. And so it kind of has its hands in everything and it's a bunch of these little things.
I always talk about the power of 1%. Data's kind of that 1%. It's much greater than 1%, but if you think about just improving all these little areas by just 1%, what's the accumulative impact of that?
And that's really what data's doing and just focusing on the quality and completeness of your data, is going to not just be 1%, in a lot of cases it's 500% or it's 27% growth. It's all of these little areas of tweaking just by improving your data that's kind of this foundation to everything that you do, you're going to have this cumulative impact of like really significant results.
So I like that, kind of those little things that all add up.
Kathleen: Yeah. It's so true. I mean if you think about it. Like in my head, I'm just thinking through "Wow, if you go through your database and you're able to remove a lot of the contacts that might be real, but are not the ones that you're trying to sell to, imagine what that might do to your email open rates, your click through rates?"
You know there are so many metrics that would presumably improve if you clean data up. Just by cleaning data up. Not by making your messaging magically better, or improving the graphics in your emails or you content, et cetera, so it's a much quicker, less expensive path to success than some of the other ones I think we as marketers tend to fall back on.
Kristi: Right. No one wakes up, like I said, data's not sexy, and no one wakes up saying "Oh, today I'm going to clean my data and be really excited about it." But the sexy things are all the things you can do because you have the better data.
You know that really cool segmentation and personalization and nurture tracks you can send people down, that's the stuff that gets me super excited. Not the data itself because it's data.
I mean I do get excited about the metrics and the reporting and stuff like that, but all the really cool, sexy cool things we want to do in marketing and sales, we can do that when we have a little bit more confidence in that data.
Kathleen: I don't know, I was going to say if I woke up tomorrow and you told me I could clean up all my data in one day, that would be one of the most exciting days of the year for me.
Kristi: True. True. I would say we spend a lot of time kind of, and we don't even think about it right, because it's now become so ingrained in our everyday, correcting emails or correcting formatting of things. Like we just do a little bit over time. Like if we could just remove that portion of our day to day, like we'd probably free ourselves up to do a lot more of those creative things that we got into marketing to do.
Kathleen: So in your experience, because you guys work with a lot of different companies that are using your product, what are some of the more common, sort of low hanging fruit areas that companies tackle when it comes to data enrichment and get results from?
Kristi: I would say one of the easier ways is just being able to standardize how you are segmenting. I think you said earlier, we've got Connecticut and all these different formats. It's just, okay what format do we want? Just starting like what do we want it to look like?
Saying what that ideal looks like, and then setting these kind of, okay well let's go update our lead scoring and make it super simple. Like it's that. It's like, "Okay what is that format we want, and let's just clean that up."
Because even just that, it saves me so much time not to have to type in a list or in my scoring, all the different variations of Connecticut, or all the different ways. Just that cleaning up is just going to make your life so much easier. Just that simple, like let's identify what we want it to look like and then what's just going to make our life easier.
Kathleen: Yeah. We talked about that here at IMPACT because we do, as I mentioned, we do get a lot of traffic and leads. And a substantial portion of it is international. And we do work internationally, not necessarily every country around the world, but we do have clients that are from Asia, from Europe, et cetera.
And we talked about wanting to better understand what countries our audience is coming from and then even by region. And we had the conversation like, you know in theory, somebody could sit and type in a list of every country in the world and build a drop down menu. But like who want's that job.
Kristi: Nobody. Nobody. Yeah.
Kathleen: Nobody. Right. And so I think even just for things like that, that's a tremendous time saver.
Kristi: Right. Yeah. And we do it to where we can customize industries. You think about all the SIC and NICS codes of different industries and how granular those get. Well we don't necessarily need to report on all those, go in there and type all the different ones, we actually do that on our end so that you can define those industries however you want and those will all roll in under those categories. It's kind of just a cool way to make your job easier.
Another thing I wanted to mention, and I think that this is so overlooked, especially if someone's already doing enrichment. Usually it's like marketing ops or maybe even demand gen, your demand gen teaming doing it, that kind of starts the enrichment project.
So maybe they're doing something manually or they're using someone like ReachForce, they get the data and the do their piece of it but they don't make it available to other teams.
So creating those views of the fields that you care about for sales or for the customer success team, I think that's one piece that people just miss, is what are those 10 attributes that we care the most about, and we're enriching them.
We're doing all this stuff so that we can do cool stuff in marketing, but let's actually expose this to sales and create these custom views for them, and work flows around those specific fields. I think those are kind of a really missed opportunity a lot of times of people who are doing some type of enrichment of their database.
Kathleen: That's a great point because I do feel like in most of the companies that I've worked with, that marketing and sales tend to be silos. If you make sales people happy, it makes a tremendous difference-
Kathleen: In the ability to be successful as a marketer.
Kristi: Right. I want them closing, I don't want them going and researching where the headquarters of a company is. I want to put it front and center and us all be operating off the same field. And just having that single source of truth, very obvious they don't have to go ...
And it's just about trust really. They want to trust that the data's right and so that's why they go and they research on their own, but I want them on the phone, demoing. I don't want them researching. I want their time spent wisely.
Kathleen: Yeah. And I loved your point earlier about shortening the number of fields you're asking for on a form. I think that's a easy win-
Kathleen: For anybody who, you know if you've got more than four fields right now on any form, boom. That's a quick way to shorten it and see a big increase in conversions.
Kristi: Right. Yeah and I think usually it's sales driving the number of fields. Also going back to that sales, well I have to know these things. Or sales is going to ask for these. If you could just build that trust and show them that they're still going to get that data some other way, they'll kind of lessen their desire for you to kind of add all those things.
Because I think that as a marketer, we know that shorter forms are going to do better, but we have this sort of internal pressure from the sales team or some other operational thing that needs to happen that rely on those. So if you can just find a different way to get that, such as enrichment, I think that that will kind of solve the need there.
Kathleen: I had this exact conversation with our sales team. We have a monthly sales and marketing alignment meeting and we were brainstorming like what we would really want to know about a new lead to determine A, whether they were a good fit, and B, like figure out how we wanted to nurture them in a way that would add value.
And the list of fields that the sales team came up with on their wishlist was so long. And they were all really valid things that they should know and that they want to know. But as a marketer, I was like cringing looking at this list going "Nobody's ever going to fill out this form."
Kristi: Yeah. I guarantee you one of those fields is probably what marketing information platform, know what you guys do, what marketing information platform.
You can actually get that from a solution like ReachForce. Like we actually use that ourselves because we tie into the CRM and the Marketing Information Platform, that it's really important to send them down specific nurture tracks and then particular documentation on if they're on Marketo or HubSpot or Salesforce or Pardot.
And that's something that we don't have to ask in our fields because we're able to enrich it in the backend which is, so it's kind of nice. The number of things that are available to us. I mean data, fortunately, unfortunately, it's kind of a commodity now.
And so the data's there and we should be able to ... I think the expectation also from the consumer is that you have that data and you should be personalizing my experience and all that good stuff.
So the more data points that you can kind of automate and enrich, I think the better, smoother that it's going to be for the user and also for that marketing to sales handoff as well.
Kathleen: Yeah. Yeah. It's funny I think definitely data has traditionally, as you said, not been looked at as not being sexy. But I'll tell you, there are some folks on my team that would jump up and down and light off fireworks if we could solve some of our data challenges.
So it is becoming more and more sexy as I think many marketers realize what bad data is holding them back from doing.
Kristi: I agree.
Kathleen: So shifting gears, this has been really interesting. You work with a lot of different companies, and I'd love to get your perspective on from an inbound marketing standpoint, what company or what individual do you think is doing it really well right now? Like whose the best in class example?
Kristi: Yeah. Okay, so when I look at inbound and who's doing inbound really well or what resinates with me, I look at a couple of things.
I'm like, are they answering my question? Are they answering the questions that I have? So content. And are they doing it across channels? Are they, depending on if I'm at my phone or kind of what I'm working on, are they answering that in different ways through video, through a blog, or are they transcribing that video? So are they making it easy for me to actually consume that content.
So those are kind of what I would say are in baselines of just good inbound success.
And you know short forms are part of that. They made it easy for me. So I think this is going to be a little bit ...
So I've always, even outside of the question of who's doing inbound really well, is I always say HubSpot. That's kind of an obvious, but they just do it so well. And now I have my question, I type in Google and I put HubSpot at the end because I know HubSpot's going to have the content for me. I trust them.
And also peer commentary is so important to us. Like for referrals, word of mouth, it's always very important. And I feel that HubSpot as an entity, has a style in their content that feels like they're a peer of mine. They have a friendly tone, so just really resinates with me and I always say, I constantly look to HubSpot to help learn from. So I always go to them.
So that's kind of an easy one, but another one, I bet, again back when I worked at an agency and I was doing a lot of SEO, I turned to Moz a lot.
And I think, again they've been around for a while and when Rand Fishkin was with them, I was like, that's my go to resource. You know they're using video. They're transcribing that video, doing the "too long, didn't read" version of it.
I just knew I could rely and trust them. So I think those are two companies that do really well.
Again probably dating myself because like those both have been around for so long and they're not anything groundbreaking, but they are the tried and trues in their experts and their particular areas. And they check all the boxes for me.
Kathleen: Yeah, no, those are two very good examples. I'm glad you had a second one besides HubSpot because if somebody just tells me HubSpot I'm always like "You've got to give me one more."
Kristi: Yep. Well I figured that, but genuinely, when people ask me that question I always say HubSpot. I make my sales team subscribe to their sales content or sales blog because it's just really good, helpful templates. They're just giving you helpful like actionable things that you can use.
And I think that Moz and Rand, now he's moved on, still continues to provide that really, tools I would say.
Kathleen: Yeah. I love Moz and I'm still an ardent follower of Rand Fishkin's on SparkToro, which is his new site. He writes so much, just really ground breaking stuff about search.
Kathleen: Second question, digital marketing is changing really quickly, how do you personally stay up to date with all of the new developments?
Kristi: Yeah. So I think that LinkedIn has gotten really good the last couple of years on their algorithm. Whatever they're doing, I love it because that's where I go to. I look at LinkedIn probably more than I look at any social network now. Because again, going back to that peer commentary if you will, they have a way of just serving up, I hate this word, but influencers in marketing that I want to hear from. And I want to hear their commentary, I want to see them linking to things.
I go to LinkedIn because I know it's going to show up either what my connections are liking and following and so I just know that I can rely on those kinds of recommendations it's making on that mainstream.
A second one that I have been binging, it's another podcast, I don't know if you've heard of it, it's Marketing School?
Kristi: And I'm sure other people have recommended this, but they're just super quick, tactical, down to the point. I think they're like less than seven minutes podcast on topics I'm either interested or not.
I always learn something new. I have a whole notebook full of just like tools I want to go check out and things I, like little tweaks to my campaigns going back to that. Those little tweak things that we can do, I'm now binging, I think I've listened to like 30 this last week.
Kathleen: Yeah it's great. It's short, that's Neil Patel and Eric Siu. Eric Siu was actually my first guest of 2018.
Kristi: Oh wow.
Kathleen: So if you go back to the Inbound Success Podcast, the first episode of 2018 was Eric talking about his predictions for the year.
Kristi: See, I'm way behind the times.
Kathleen: It's awesome. No it's a great podcast. And they're really smart guys.
Nice. Well thank you for sharing all those. I'll put links to all those resources in the show notes. If somebody is listening and want to learn more about data enrichment or they want to learn something more about ReachForce, what's the best way for them to find out more about the company and connect with you online?
Kristi: So our website is ReachForce.com. There's a few ways I always recommend people get started with kind of this data initiative. We offer a data health assessment where we actually look at your data, and say here were some of your gaps and maybe how we can improve it with enrichment. Just to give you an idea about like how bad your data actually is. So that's like the main call to action on our website.
Kathleen: I'm like afraid to take that.
Kristi: It's eyeopening but it also makes you realize even all the efforts you're doing to try to like stop that seep in around your data. Like they're just not good enough if they're manual. And so that's always something that we do with every person that comes to our site. We say you need to start with a data health assessment because it'll give you kind of a clear path forward.
And then also we offer a trial of that smart forms tool that we were talking about. Like you can go and get set up in under 30 minutes if you want. So that's on our website as well as one of the main call to actions at ReachForce.com.
Those are two really good ways to A, see like maybe how bad your data actually is and how it could be improved, and B, just see how shortening your forms, even if you were to go and put it on your highest converting form for a month to see what kind of data you're able to get through. It's a super easy process to get it set up. There's not really a significant, other than like creating the fields that you want, there's not like a whole lot of implementation steps. So it's just super easy to get started.
Kathleen: And fair to say, given your previous remarks, that the best way for somebody to connect with you would be on LinkedIn?
Kristi: Yes. I always want people to connect with me on LinkedIn. I love following others and growing our network and learning from all the smart people on there. Like I said, that's my go to. I look at it before I even look at Instagram, so you know that's a big thing.
Kathleen: Great. Well thank you so much Kristi for joining me today. It was really interesting to hear about some of the specific ways that companies are using ReachForce and just data enrichment in general.
Kathleen: If you're listening and you liked what you heard or you learned something new, please consider giving the podcast a review on Apple Podcasts, or the platform of your choice. That always helps us get found by new listeners.
And if you know somebody who's doing kick-ass inbound marketing work, as always, tweet me @workmommywork because I'd love to have them as my next guest.
That's it for this week. Thank you so much Kristi.
Kristi: Thank you.