Redefining ‘leads’ in B2B: Why data enrichment is key for lead gen

Learn why behavioral momentum is essential for true lead qualification in B2B and the value of authentic engagement for data enrichment.

Data enrichment

Lead generation for B2B has undergone quite a transformation. Gone are the days when gating all content to meet quarterly MQL KPIs was effective.

Today, digital platforms and data enrichment strategies are the status quo, reshaping how we identify, engage and nurture potential customers we’d like to have. But have we deviated too far from sustainable lead generation practices and become too reliant on pay-to-play databases to fuel outbound initiatives?

Understanding lead generation

ZoomInfo refers to lead generation as:

“[T]he process of attracting prospects and getting them into the sales funnel, with the goal of converting them into customers. Lead gen occurs within the second stage of a marketing funnel — meaning it happens after marketers have attracted an audience and are ready to hand them over to the sales team.”

The irony here is that most B2B organizations rely heavily on pulling cold lists from databases like ZoomInfo and instantly coin them as leads worthy of reaching out to.

Contradiction? Maybe. Let’s explore.

Redefining ‘lead’ in modern marketing

The term “lead” often gets thrown around loosely, but not every interested party qualifies as a lead. As I often say, a true lead demonstrates intent to discover or purchase your product — yes, it’s that simple. Modern B2B marketing demands a specific, behavior-based criterion for qualification, moving beyond superficial metrics or simply finding someone who happens to fit your ideal customer profile ICP.

This is where “lead capture” is misconstrued within marketing teams and why marketing leaders must stress a specific qualification definition. I recommend teams segment their content based on the types of groups they want to communicate with rather than throwing all of them into a lead bucket and filtering based on firmographic data.

When passing people over to the team with a knack for pounding an inbox, these details matter. Ultimately, those invested in the pipeline’s success must agree on what qualifies as a “lead” to avoid conflicts and be on the same page about who is worth engaging with.

The value of ‘marketing engaged people’

If you’ve worked on a team with me, you’ve heard the term “marketing engaged people.” I stress this because these people are the ones who show consistent interest and interact with your brand in any capacity. They don’t become a lead until they show you they are.

Oftentimes, with the recent necessity of a powerful content distribution strategy, it’s arguably more important for marketing teams to build a strong fan base than it is for them to focus on bringing in customers.

The old scoring models of equating a certain number of page views or downloads with a threshold that boasts sales readiness is outdated. Instead, modern strategies for a cohesive passing over of leads to the sales team should focus on engagement tracking and interaction analysis within your CRM systems, tailoring outreach and content to these behaviors authentically.

The power of data enrichment

Understanding a prospect’s online behaviors, interests and needs can and should transform how you approach them. Creating content and communication plans that leverage this data can attract your audience and engage them meaningfully.

Pay-to-play databases like ZoomInfo are a very powerful tool when used in tandem with CRMs like HubSpot that can show you who’s doing what and when. These lists can also be valuable for generating advertising audiences, often layered with intent signals that pertain to the problem your solution solves.

The result of doing this effectively is a clear view for the marketing and sales teams to see who they should communicate with and how — instead of pretending that everyone with a lead score above zero must be in the market today.

Whether it comes from marketing, sales or customer support, communications in the modern B2B market must respect everything that has happened before the next touchpoint. But it’s incredibly important to remember that solely having someone’s information does not mean they are a lead. Leads require behavioral momentum.

Sales-generated leads and go-to-market strategies

Sales-generated leads, when integrated with marketing strategies, can drive impressive results and should be a part of your go-to-market (GTM) motion. However, a meticulously targeted approach is crucial.

When building lists for prospecting, data enrichment — both paid and behavioral — should be used thoughtfully to guide outreach. This ensures both sales and marketing teams work in unison toward a cohesive communication strategy. I often argue that it’s less important where the leads come from, but most importantly, how they’re handled.

Don’t assume it’s OK that your sales team and marketing team can co-communicate with the same audiences without both sides knowing exactly what, how and when things are said. Peter Drucker said it best, “Adequacy is the enemy of excellence.”

Fight the good fight

As the B2B lead generation landscape continually evolves, it falls victim to bad habits that require a remedy. To stay ahead, marketers must be adaptable, continuously learning and challenging the status quo, often plagued by unrealistic goals driven by the greed of speed.

By blending common sense methods with modern tactics, a more effective and holistic lead generation strategy can be achieved, taking your organization to long-term success and a much more loyal audience.


This article was written by MarTech and originally published here.



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