How to Make B2B Data an ROI Catalyst

Hila Nir

More than ever, marketing departments are feeling pressure from CEOs and sales vice presidents to prove the return on considerable marketing investments. Producing attention-capturing campaigns doesn’t cut it anymore without an ROI.

Where does that leave you? Probably in a position similar to that of Michael Troiano, CMO of Actifio.

“Late last week I delivered a slide to our board providing existential proof we’d gotten a positive return on every nickel of our Q1 marketing program spend,” Troiano explained, writing on his excellent Medium page. “Today I find myself scanning window after window of reports from Google, LinkedIn,, and HubSpot… and you know what? For all the data, I’m hard pressed to describe what it means in simple terms.”

The assertion here is that, with the rise of omni-channel marketing, the lines of attribution are blurred, which makes ROI analysis difficult.

The ‘Mathimication’ of Marketing

Fortunately, as Troiana outlined, marketing professionals can piece together insights about channel performance – website, social, email – and create action plans to strengthen results. However, while essential to maximizing marketing performance, this type of analysis is tedious.

And this framework has two key shortcomings.

The first huge limitation? It still leaves marketing leadership in a position of retrospective analysis – tracking incremental changes.

“It’s time to admit the mathification of marketing has gone too far,” Troiano continued. “The problem is, it’s a lie. We’ve mistaken precision for accuracy, so that all we’ve really revealed is exactly what we don’t know. To torture the metaphor, a dashboard tells you everything you need while driving except where you’re going. I don’t need a dashboard. I need a windshield.”

The second massive limitation? Tinkering with persona segmentation, copy, design and layout to determine what works and what doesn’t is all well and good, but scaling performance still comes down to one variable marketers fail to account for: audience. Actually, let’s take that one step further – qualified audience. Put simply, optimal marketing strategy dies without the right leads.

So, where do you begin? Believe it or not, your current customer data is actually the secret source of future growth. Organizations constantly claim to be “customer-first”; now you have a chance to put that aspiration toward your organization’s growth.

3 Steps to Boost Qualified Leads

Here are three steps that will put more qualified leads in front of your successful marketing campaigns and naturally scale ROI.

Create buyer personas: The term “buyer persona” gets thrown around by marketing and sales professionals. Chances are, your organization knows what types of accounts and contacts make up your ideal customer profiles. Still, sales and marketing professionals should review and agree on basic firmographic attributes (revenue, company size, industry, etc.) and demographic details (job title, job function, management level, location, etc.) that define your best customers. It’s a worthwhile exercise.

Engage B2B contact data providers: Vendors within this landscape boast massive databases and tools that help organizations identify, connect with, engage, and close based on ideal buyer personas. B2B contact data providers can provide real-time information. They even have self-service tools that analyze your database to help your team define your buyer personas – and find more contacts to match them.

Hyper-personalize your marketing campaigns: Because B2B contact data providers standardize their professional and company profiles, your team can tailor messaging – aligning strategy with your audience.

Clearly, the trend toward data-driven marketing is gaining traction. The approach I’ve outlined will help you make the numbers your allies in bolstering your company’s marketing and sales ROI.

Hila Nir is vice president of marketing and product of ZoomInfo, whose Growth Acceleration Platform combines the most comprehensive and actionable business intelligence database with integrated tools to help B2B companies optimize sales and marketing effectiveness, jump start growth and maximize profitability. Contact her at