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Top 5 Data Trends Powering Digital Marketing Growth in 2021




Last year saw an explosion of martech tools, increased integrations, and AI automations. It’s clear digital connectivity has skyrocketed, with massive amounts of data from multiple sources seamlessly moving from one platform to another. Studies from McKinsey have said that in 2020, digital transformation vaulted five years forward in about eight weeks’ time.

While most of us faced new challenges over the past year, technology has actually made it possible to execute more efficient and accurate marketing campaigns – if you have the right information. Now more than ever, data is not just a helpful tool, it’s a necessity to reach the right customers. From my perspective as a long-time data provider, here are five of the top emerging data trends and how you can use them to fuel business growth this year.

  • Foundational Contact Data to Fuel Acquisition

The amount and granular level of data being mined and analyzed for digital marketing these days is staggering. Yet oftentimes the most fundamental contact data – an email address – can be one of the hardest pieces to fill. Ask almost any digital marketer and they’ll tell you that getting the prospect’s email address continues to be the holy grail.

Many marketers – even those with significant databases – are finding they need data from multiple sources to execute strong acquisition campaigns. Especially as B2B data regularly decays up to 70% per year and data decay soared this past year in the changing economy. A quality third-party data provider can fill in the missing pieces and fill out your contact list with accurate data. A keyword to remember is quality. A “discount” data provider may sound enticing by offering a large quantity of contacts at a low price, but it’s not worth the effort when your bounces are through the roof. The same applies to using old or outdated lists, sending campaigns with bad data is a waste of time and money.

  • Matching Business and Personal Contact Data to Reach Prospects Anywhere

Digital marketers have faced increased challenges in reaching prospects this past year. Even with accurate foundational contact data, many decision-makers are working from home on their personal devices, as well as using their personal email accounts for work. The line between business and personal is blurry at best, and nonexistent for some.

To address this change, it’s best to use contact data that combines both personal and business characteristics for each contact. Third-party data can fill-in the missing pieces and match a contact’s personal records to their professional one for a more complete profile. This is especially important with the millennial and Gen Z age groups, as they prefer to do their own research before making a purchase.

  • Using Identity Graphs for a More Holistic Customer View

Your audience operates across various channels and devices, so effective sales and marketing campaigns need to meet them where they are. One of the most innovative data strategies we’re seeing is the use of identity graphs, which connect data from multiple sources and map it to anonymized customer profiles. The graph includes identifiers for real individual consumers and includes firmographic data. Marketers can use the identity graph to build custom audiences with offline and online prospect attributes, then take the anonymized IDs from the graph to a demand-side platform. This leads to a deeper and more complete view to better identify the right prospects for offers and engage more effectively with them.

  • Identifying Buyer Interest Through Daily Intent Data Feeds

As many B2B marketers have turned to an account-based marketing (ABM) approach to finding new accounts, intent monitoring has risen as a necessity in finding buyers who show the most promise of becoming customers. Intent data insights are obtained when buyers’ online activities are anonymously monitored, captured and analyzed based on designated actions such as website visits, content downloads, product reviews or registration for webinars. Typically, these are generated as weekly updates with lists of new prospects, but new options are emerging for an ongoing feed of prospect intent data delivered directly to marketers or agencies. This gives marketers the opportunity to “jump” on a prospects interest with targeted outreach or acquisition campaigns at the right time.

  • Aggregating Data with Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)

With the many new data tools and options, marketers need a way to connect and unify their own customer data from multiple sources. Customer data platforms (CDP) meet that need by connecting fragmented data into a central location. While CDPs have been around for several years, they’ve become a must-have platform this past year. I expect the demand will increase even more, as managing customer data and getting value from that data is critical to business success.

From the demise of third-party cookies to the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, and even greater digitization, there have been massive changes over the past year. Digital marketers are learning that to keep up in this economy, they have to adapt fast. But with the right data and the right tools, pivoting has become easier. While brands can level up their ability to target and reach in-market prospects, the upside for buyers is also clear: businesses are engaging with them with the right message, in the right channel, and at a time when they are ready to buy. There’s no doubt we’ve reached a point where digital marketers have the power to utilize data to its full potential.

Paula Chiocchi, CEO and founder of Outward Media, Inc. (OMI), is an award-winning marketing industry veteran whose mission is to help businesses realize their full potential by effectively reaching their target audiences and converting more prospects into customers. OMI’s high-quality business contact data is used by Fortune 1000 firms… View full profile ›

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What Not to do in Email Marketing



What Not to do in Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to speak directly to your audience. You can build a relationship with them and create loyal customers. It is also a great way to generate traffic to your website, increase leads, and execute large campaigns.

With all of the benefits that your company can gain from email marketing, it’s no wonder that 64% of small businesses engage in email marketing. However, there are still a few important things to keep in mind. In order to be successful, you should avoid these 4 mistakes explained by 97 Switch when preparing an email marketing campaign.

Talk About Yourself

Many companies fall into the trap of only talking about themselves. They assume that since their audience signed up for emails, they want to hear all about the company and the sales. While marketing your products or services is important to do sometimes, your audience is still looking for value.

Failing to foster a relationship with them by being too sales-y will lead to unsubscribers and a loss of potential customers.

Instead, it’s important to give the audience something in return for their loyalty. Exclusive deals and sales codes are appreciated, but they also want to see educational or entertaining content in their inbox.

One way to do this is by creating content such as “you asked, we delivered” or “your questions answered” to show that you care about your customers and the feedback they give you, and it builds trust.

It’s also important to speak your audience’s language. Sometimes, companies get too caught up in trying to sound professional and impressive and end up using jargon that’s hard to understand.


Using more simple ways to get your message across is imperative, as it makes the email easier to consume and thus more valuable.

Email Without a Purpose

While building relationships with your customers is one of the main goals of email marketing, you should keep in mind that they don’t want to hear from your company just for the sake of connecting.

Ensure that you have a clear purpose for each email you send, whether that be to inform, entertain, or motivate.

Being intentional about when to reach out includes sending timely emails. You should respond to relevant industry, company, or world news in a timely manner. Readers would find you reminding them about the last day of a sale important, and that qualifies as a purposeful email.

Part of proceeding with a clear purpose is also including a call to action in your emails. Your readers want to know exactly what you’re asking of them, and making it simple is the best way to get it. Beware of including too many calls to action, as it can be more confusing and seem more selfish than helpful.

Over Generalize

Personalization is one of the greatest strengths of email marketing, yet it is often overlooked. Simply including first names in an email makes it sound more personal and builds stronger relationships. This can easily be achieved using an email scheduling tool such as Mailchimp. Again, this is a way to build customer relationships. Research shows that using someone’s name in the subject line increases open rates by 26%. Be that as it may, personalization is more than just plugging in names.

Using an email marketing tool is also an easy way to utilize the segmentation aspect of personalization. By separating your audience into groups, you can categorize what they would each be most interested to hear from you.

It has been shown that segmented campaigns perform better than non-segmented campaigns. An example of this is categorizing your readers as beginners, intermediate, or advanced knowledge of your industry. Based on this category, you can send each segment a different email that would pertain to them more specifically.


Your readers will appreciate that your content is tailored to their needs. Imagine sending a beginner an email that skips over the basics of a process. They would be confused and find it very unhelpful.

Now imagine an expert who is wasting time reading the basics that they know by heart. They would become frustrated and lose interest in finishing the email. These are just two examples of using segmentation to better serve your audience.

Use Poor Subject Lines

Often, people will decide whether to open an email at all based on the subject line alone. A mistake that marketers tend to make is wording the subject in a way that sounds like spam, and thus never gets opened or reaches the audience.

As we mentioned before, it is also helpful to include someone’s name in the subject line. While it might seem like a shot in the dark to form an effective subject, there are a few tips for the best open rates you can achieve.

A good subject line should be short. The ideal length for a subject is 7 words, based on a study conducted by Marketo.

However, you also want to make it interesting so that people are curious and want to know more. This curiosity is enough to encourage people to read the email.

However, you want to avoid click-baiting your readers with interesting subject lines that have nothing to do with the content in the email. Make sure that your subject is also relevant to what you have to say. Otherwise, you will have the opposite effect you’d intended by destroying trust and losing credibility.

Being Inconsistent

Simply sending out random emails is not enough to see results. You have to stick to a schedule that your readers can count on and know when to expect to hear from you in their inbox.


The frequency can vary based on your industry and from business to business, but emailing at least once a month is recommended. The more you email, the more you will be on the top of potential customers’ minds when they need what you offer.

That being said, you shouldn’t always assume more contact is better. If your company emails are flooding their inbox, you can bet that they will either block the sender or unsubscribe from future emails. Finding a balance is key to seeing the best results from your campaigns.

You should also consider the brand voice that you are using to speak to your customers. If your emails all sound like they were written by different people, then it’s hard to gain the brand-strengthening benefits of email marketing. It is also confusing to your audience and makes it harder for them to connect with the company.

A good way to remedy this is to create a company persona, where you give a personality to the company that is sending the emails.

Are you funny and witty, or are you serious and somber? Consider strengthening your branding within the company before communicating it with the world.

Key Takeaways

You can’t expect to be perfect at email marketing, so don’t get discouraged if you find that you have made these mistakes. There is always room for improvements, and every so often it’s a good idea to evaluate how your email marketing campaigns are going.

Using analytics to track your results and adjusting your strategy will help you grow as you fix any mistakes you might be making.

By taking the time to improve your strategy, you will see the success that can carry across all your marketing efforts.


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