Poor data quality is a disease which slowly destroys the value of your marketing database. Quality is damaged through incomplete information, poor data entry, and data decay. A traditional response is to purchase new records, but this only provides a temporary (and expensive) respite from your data quality issues.
The data I’ve seen indicates that contacts decay at a 25 to 30 percent annual rate. This means that a prospect list that is 90 percent accurate today will be little more than 50% accurate two years later. Thus, a prospect list purchase strategy is like steroids, it makes your marketing database look healthier on the day the list is purchased, but it simply masks the growing disease within your database. Treating one or two symptoms does not address the underlying problem — a lack of a broad, continuous data strategy.
However, if you take a holistic view around data quality which includes continuous DaaS validation, ABM look-a-likes, web form enrichment, lead-to-account mapping, duplicate management, data standardization, and reference database appends, you will have a healthy database that ensures your MAP and CRM platforms contain the richest, most accurate data.
Vendors that support holistic data quality include ReachForce, D&B Optimizer (FKA Workbench), Zoominfo, InsideView, Oceanos, and Openprise. So if you are concerned about your ability to target, segment, pass quality leads to sales, score leads, or build predictive models, then begin with a holistic data strategy. Symptoms of poor data quality include high email bounce rates, declining email sender scores, returned direct mail, duplicate records, incomplete records, accelerating unsubscribe rates, and sales reps that ignore your marketing qualified leads.
Any firm that is adopting ABM, advanced lead scoring, a single view of the customer, or predictive analytics, should begin with a holistic data quality strategy. Otherwise, these advanced marketing strategies are bound to fail.
Last week, Dun & Bradstreet CEO Robert Carrigan resigned as CEO, board member, and Chairman. In his absence, Thomas Manning has been appointed Chairman and interim CEO. Manning has been a board member since 2013 and Lead Director since 2016. He previously served as the CEO of Cerberus Asia Operations & Advisory Limited, CEO of Capgemini Asia, and CEO of Ernst & Young Consulting Asia. He was also a senior partner with corporate strategy firm Bain & Company where he led the global IT practice in Silicon Valley and Asia.
No reason was given for Carrigan’s departure beyond that it was a mutual decision.
“Over the last four years we have made progress transforming this company. We’ve improved our data and analytics, developed solutions and capabilities to serve new customer use cases, and modernized our products and platforms. The Board is confident in the strategic direction of the Company, and fully believes that this business can deliver sustainable mid-single digit revenue growth and expanding margins. Our number one priority is accelerating value creation for shareholders.”
Dun & Bradstreet Chairman and interim CEO Thomas Manning
However, the company is not growing revenue and profits quickly enough. To address the slow growth, the firm engaged McKinsey & Company two months ago in a strategic and operational review “to help us find ways to speed up the time to realize value,” said Manning. “The first phase of their work validated our strategy and identified barriers to growth and cost opportunities. The next phase of their work will include a full portfolio and business assessment and we are open to considering all options for value creation that may be identified.”
McKinsey validated the basic DaaS strategy around premium company, contact, and risk data. McKinsey’s primary concern was the “breadth of our offerings and distribution channels” which increased the level of operational complexity. The updated strategy will look to “simplify and streamline the business.”
Dun & Bradstreet is also looking to “apply more specialization to our selling activities as we go deeper into the sales and marketing space,” said Manning. “As we expand our sales and marketing value proposition from being primarily a static data supplier to becoming a dynamic player in the digital sales, marketing and advertising space, we are working to make sure that our organization, go-to-market strategy and processes are aligned with that goal.”
The firm hired David Godfrey, who previously ran Global Sales at Gartner, to oversee go-to-market strategy and execution. He will be reporting into Manning.
James Fernandez, new Lead Director of the Board, said, “As Dun & Bradstreet continues its work to drive sustainable growth, the Board believes now is the right time to transition the Company’s leadership. We are pleased to have a leader of Tom’s caliber and experience to step in as interim CEO. The Board will continue to support the Company, and lend our expertise to the organization and Tom during this transition period as we conduct our search for a permanent successor.”
Q4 earnings increased 3%, but only 1% organically, to $527 million. Total revenue hit $1.75 billion in 2017 with 83% in the Americas. The firm maintained expense discipline resulting in a ten-basis point improvement in margins while investing $40 million on initiatives which “transform our technology platforms in order to meet our customers’ modern-day needs,” said CFO Richard Veldran. “Modernizing delivery of our solutions is a critical component of our strategy.”
Data-as-a-service delivery continues to increase. Nearly 30% of Americas revenue came via as-a-service solutions “which makes our data stickier and more useful for our customers and drives higher-value revenue.”
Amongst the 2017 initiatives were upgrades to D&B Credit and new D&B Optimizer solutions for Salesforce and Microsoft.
Deferred revenue was up 3% year over year before M&A activity and currency adjustments. Growth was attributed to D&B Credit, D&B Hoovers Q4, and the D&B Direct API. President and COO Josh Peirez noted that the D&B Credit Suite revenues were no longer declining and that the company is well-positioned in D&B Credit, D&B Hoovers, and D&B Direct.
“We think we’re well-positioned to address the competitive challenges. We’re also pleased that McKinsey has validated that opportunity and that strategy and helping us to make sure that we are packaging and bundling these things properly.”
Dun & Bradstreet President & COO Josh Peirez
Taxes, which were 31.4% in 2017, are expected to drop to the mid-20s due to the US corporate tax reforms. The reforms will also allow the firm to repatriate $265 million to reduce debt levels.
No guidance was provided as the firm is beginning their operational review. Veldran promised more details on the Q1 call.
Dun & Bradstreet raised its quarterly dividend by two cents to $0.5225 per share.
The market reacted very positively to the announcements, driving Dun & Bradstreet’s stock price up nearly 8% after the earnings call.
Sales & Marketing Solutions (S&MS) rose 4% in the Americas to $240.1 million in Q4. Growth was led by Sales Acceleration products which rose 9% to $84.3 million. For the full year, Sales Acceleration grew 10% to $288.4 million in the Americas with the Avention acquisition contributing twelve points of growth. Legacy Hoover’s drove down organic Sales Acceleration revenue with traditional Hoovers revenue declining by mid-single digits.
Revenue for the new D&B Hoovers service (Dun & Bradstreet content delivered through the Avention platform) increased in 2017. However, the decline in revenue from the Data.com partnership will result in a decline in 2018 Sales Acceleration revenue. Data.com generated around $50 million in revenue in 2017 with the firm continuing to sell through August 2017, resulting in a flat year. Veldran projects a $15 million decline in Data.com revenue. Dun & Bradstreet is looking to recapture some of that decline as new D&B Hoovers and D&B Optimizer for Salesforce contracts.
Peirez is quite pleased with the trajectory of the D&B Hoovers business. “We think our products are far better than anything else in market. We continue to see the overwhelming majority of customers that are buying our D&B Hoovers product buying the higher level of the product with the integrations to CRM, so that’s extremely encouraging for us.”
The firm is also moving to migrate its Hoover’s customer base over to D&B Hoovers. In Q4, more than ten percent of the legacy base moved to the new platform as Dun & Bradstreet “started to move very aggressively in getting the customers upgraded,” said Peirez. While the D&B Hoovers Suite grew low-single digits in its first year, Peirez expects growth to accelerate in year two. The company has told users that the legacy platform will be phased out at the end of the year.
Advanced Marketing Solutions grew 2% in Q4 to $155.8 million in the Americas. For the full year, growth was 2% to $383.9 million. While revenue was up mid-single digits in H2, the product line was weighed down by H1 weakness.
Outside the Americas, S&MS grew 17% to $16.9 million in Q4. For the year, S&MS non-Americas revenue rose 18% to $60.4 million. Growth was driven by Sales Acceleration products, including the acquired Avention product line. Sales Acceleration products jumped up 24% to $7.5 million in the quarter and 39% to $27.7 million for the year.
The D&B Hoovers Suite rose 26% to $42.6 million in the Americas in Q4 and 22% to $166.5 million. Outside of the Americas, D&B Hoovers Suite rose from $0.6 million to $5.3 million in Q4 and $3.1 million to $16 million. While the classic Hoover’s product line had little overseas sales, the new D&B Hoovers product line, built on the Avention platform, benefited from a longstanding presence in the UK, Singapore, Australia, and India.
As we are one month away from the new year, it is a good time to think about budgeting for data quality in 2018.
I know it isn’t glamorous, but that doesn’t mean it is unnecessary.
Data Quality software is markedly improved over the past few years. No longer is it necessary to download and forward a file to a vendor and wait for them to process your marketing file. Sales and Marketing Operations can now setup automated cloud cleansing that works within Marketo, Eloqua, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and other enterprise applications. B2B vendors to consider include Dun & Bradstreet, InsideView, Zoominfo, and ReachForce.
These platforms perform both initial batch match & append and ongoing enrichment, ensuring that your sales and marketing files have both accurate and complete data. These services also support company and contact prospecting, data health reports, suppression lists, and segmentation reporting. A few even offer free data quality reports, deduplication, technographic enrichment, nixie files (defunct companies and departed exec files), web form support, sales intelligence services, and contact verification and standardization (e.g. address, phone, and email) for non-matched records.
As these services reside in the cloud and offer cloud connectors for the major MAPs and CRMs, the operational overhead is minimal allowing operations to focus on ABM look-a-likes, segmentation, and improved targeting instead of file management.
What’s more, data quality improvements benefit sales, marketing, and downstream systems. A record cleansed and verified as it is created costs much less than a bad record passed down to other enterprise platforms. Beyond direct cost reduction (storing bad data, marketing to departed execs, sales calls to abandoned voicemails, reduced time keying and updating records manually), there are improvements to segmentation, targeting, lead scoring, lead routing, and messaging.
So budget for data quality in 2018. It isn’t glamorous, but it is effective.
For the past nine months, there has been great ambiguity around the future of Data.com, a pair of AppExchange services which combine the old Jigsaw contact file with Dun & Bradstreet account and industry intelligence. Salesforce has remained mum throughout with Dun & Bradstreet providing details on their earnings calls.
Dun & Bradstreet CEO Bob Carrigan announced that Dun & Bradstreet and Salesforce will be offering a path forward for Data.com clients. In August, Salesforce Data.com stopped offering D&B content for new clients, but legacy clients continued to receive D&B WorldBase, Hoovers, and First Research insights. However, the long-term direction of Data.com remained ambiguous as service revenues declined due to “natural attrition.” Carrigan announced that the two firms have agreed on a transition plan to migrate Data.com customers to D&B Hoovers and the new D&B Optimizer for Salesforce.
D&B Hoovers represents a significant upgrade for Data.com Prospector customers as they will receive deeper global company and contact coverage than before. Users will have access to a deeper set of global contacts, a broader set of screening variables, and company intelligence including financials, filings, SWOTs, news, sales triggers, and alerts.
Optimizer for Salesforce will launch next week at Dreamforce where Dun & Bradstreet will have a larger presence than in previous years. Product specifics were not provided on the call, but some details were posted on the AppExchange Lightning Data site. D&B Optimizer offers a data management dashboard, account record matching using DUNSMatch logic across eighty variables, segmentation analysis (revenue, employees, industry and location), family tree linkage opportunities, duplicate record management, and out of business flagging. Updates are made every fifteen days.
Optimizer for Salesforce is listed at $22 per user per month, $3 less than Data.com Clean. It is currently available in the US and UK.
“For organizations to grow, they need actionable and complete data across the entire business to ensure that timely and informed decisions are being made. D&B Optimizer for Salesforce provides Salesforce customers the ability to get the data they want, when and where they need it, directly within their Salesforce instance. This leads to increased productivity and, ultimately, growth for their businesses.”
Derek Slayton, General Manager of Sales and Marketing LOB, Dun & Bradstreet
Not only will Salesforce assist with transitioning clients, but they will also be referring prospects to Dun & Bradstreet. Dun & Bradstreet will recognize the full revenue from these products and own the customer relationships going forward, providing them with greater control over the product, increased revenue, and an end to their disintermediated status on the AppExchange.
According to Dun & Bradstreet CFO Richard Veldran, Salesforce revenue is “in the neighborhood of $50 million, because they’re not selling new on their side.” In the short term, that revenue will decline due to “natural attrition.” However, as customers are converted to D&B solutions, the firm will no longer be on a revenue share basis with Salesforce, resulting in in a revenue upswing. It should be noted, though, that subscription revenue is ratable over the term of the contract so there will be a delay in this revenue recognition.
This month, Dun & Bradstreet rolled out a pair of enhancements to their Workbench Data Optimizer product line. The first release, which is already available, adds global contact cleanse and enrich functionality to the Optimizer module. Additional features include URL matching, expanded attributes, and custom match settings. The second release, with a planned release date of June 16th, provides global company targeting and an enhanced interface.
Our customers were asking for us to manage more of their data and for access to more of our data. So, we really went for it with this release. For one, we can now append up to 190 different data attributes. We can also process contact records outside of the US. We included 8x as many web domains to match to. We added data stewardship rules to pass control to the customer. Finally, we modernized the user experience. If you combine all of this with the work we did to enhance our email verification process in March, it adds up to a complete solution for optimizing marketing data.
Director of Product Management John Zilch
Dun & Bradstreet acquired NetProspex and its Contact Optimizer product in January 2015 and has continued to invest in the offering. The original product was already quite useful as it supported contact validation (email, phone, address), technographic enrichment (HG Data product vendor data), a freemium Data Health report, and segmentation analysis. Post-acquisition, Dun & Bradstreet integrated WorldBase firmographics, linkage, and D-U-N-S Numbers into the product and implemented DUNSMatch logic for match and enrich. More recently, they enhanced their Marketo and Eloqua connectors and added a Profiler module which supports advanced segmentation analysis and net-new account and contact prospecting based upon current accounts. The most recent release continues the product evolution.
The Optimizer module first matches using company name, address, and phone. If it is unable to match to specific locations, URL matching is performed as a secondary match process. The firm has 8.3 million mapped domains. Domain matching associates contacts and companies with D-U-N-S Numbers and associated firmographics. However, domain matching is less accurate as it is likely to map to the ultimate parent or a major subsidiary (if the subsidiary has a separate domain). Thus, domain matching is more generalized. It should be noted, however, that several vendors only offer domain matching so using domains as a secondary match algorithm still provides stronger matching and enrichment than these vendors.
Domain matching is also useful when address information and phone information is not provided by leads.
Dun & Bradstreet extended the number of fields available for matching to over 170 from their SDMR “Strategic Layout.” As the firm offers custom layouts, admins can choose which fields to map between Optimizer and their company and contact data sets.
Users can also employ confidence codes for matching (they recommend using match confidence levels of six or higher for the “best quality and output”) or select from turnkey file layouts. Thus, matches based on the name (but not address) or address (but not name) are excluded. Workbench supports native integrations with Eloqua (Oracle Cloud) and Marketo for lead matching. Contact matching adds phone; job title, phone, and level; social handles; and firmographics.
On June 16th, the firm will begin adding net-new accounts to its Target module. Target defaults to US companies but can also be run at the global or country level. Coverage has been expanded to 110 million companies including 9 million UK entities.
When prospecting in Target, users are provided with four counts:
Contact Records Company Type (emails)
Contact Records Campaign Type (emails and phones)
Company Records Firmographics
Cookies and Mobile ID’s for programmatic and mobile targeting
Emails have a 90% confidence rate for deliverability.
Dun & Bradstreet, which has had a series of major product announcements over the past few weeks (the Avention acquisition, rebranding of its OneSource platform as D&B Hoovers, a Beneficial Ownership product), has quietly added powerful new functionality to their Workbench Data Optimizer platform. The new Profile capability features an automated profile builder, Total Addressable Market (TAM) analysis, and look-a-like prospecting based upon the Workbench profiles.
The new functionality helps marketers evaluate the size of targetable sub-markets, identify audiences with a high propensity to purchase, discover overlooked whitespace opportunities, and target new accounts and contacts. According to Alex Schwarm, Sr. Director of Marketing Analytics Products, “Profile enables our Workbench customers to begin to use data-driven, ABM-oriented Profiles based on their successful sales. These automated analytics allow you to quickly and easily identify the best whitespace opportunities and characteristics of your target audiences including those with the highest propensity to buy – no data scientist needed.”
Profile is a black-box analytics engine which clusters customer files without biases. Marketers upload a file of their customers’ data for a specific product or product family. Workbench standardizes, de-duplicates, and verifies the input file; matches and enriches it with Dun & Bradstreet’s WorldBase firmographics; and then provides segmentation and file health analysis. The Profile module identifies between two and eight distinct segments containing similar companies across multiple dimensions. The user can define the number of profiles or the system can automatically identify the optimal number of profiles based on the variation of the customer file. The marketer is not required to define the key segmentation variables. Instead, the system automatically performs affinity clustering (my term) to build the segments. Execution time is typically 5 to 10 minutes.
The results are displayed on a downloadable dashboard that provides a side-by-side firmographic analysis of the clusters. Results include company size, ownership (e.g. parent, branch), primary industries, cluster size, and average deal size (if revenue figures are also shared with Dun & Bradstreet). Thus, the system may identify segments with a lower average deal size but a larger number of prospects alongside clusters containing top customers with high average deal size but a small number of targetable opportunities.
While Dun & Bradstreet does not use the term “Ideal Customer Profile” (ICP) the system is basically identifying the attributes of a customer’s ICP, determining the average deal size, and sizing the overall market opportunity.
Dun & Bradstreet has two major assets in performing TAM analysis: The WorldBase file of global companies and trust built up over 170 years of credit research. WorldBase provides them with a consistent, global file of 260 million active and inactive companies for credit and supplier risk research, sales intelligence, and B2B marketing. The file includes broad global company linkages, corporate and location sizing, industry coding, Tradestyles, and D-U-N-S Numbers (the de facto global company numbering system). This intelligence provides the core reference file against which market sizing can be performed. But TAM analysis requires customer level revenue information against which company counts can be converted to market sizes. And here is where a strong credit analysis brand helps build confidence amongst marketers to share company revenue data. While they will be reluctant to share revenue details with most vendors, firms have been sharing private financial details with Dun & Bradstreet over the better part of two centuries.
Marketers can then take any of the profiles and immediately identify net-new similar companies as well as net-new contacts. The system also sizes potential target market audiences that can be reached programmatically through their Audience Solutions group.
While prospect scoring based upon these definitions is not yet supported, that is a likely future offering for the platform. Profile, along with a set of predictive scores and paired with D&B Hoovers’ business signals, represents a toe in the water of the predictive analytics space.
Oftentimes when a small company is acquired, it is treated as a cash cow (if it is producing cash) or plugged into a larger business to address a capabilities gap or generate cross-selling opportunities. Less frequently is the new asset treated as a vital, strategic asset to help enter new markets.
In the case of Dun & Bradstreet’s acquisition of NetProspex, the acquired division has been a keystone for Dun & Bradstreet’s entry into Audience Solutions (Visitor ID, Audience Targeting). Dun & Bradstreet is beginning to gain traction in the programmatic advertising space. On their most recent earnings call, CEO Bob Carrigan noted that their customers have long relied on Dun & Bradstreet for company data, but that this data was difficult to map to online activities because people surf the net, not companies. When the firm acquired NetProspex early last year, they immediately set out to combine the NetProspex contact data with Dun & Bradstreet firmographics and D-U-N-S Numbers.
“Our contact data, coupled with our company data, on boarded for the digital world and matched to online cookies, helps our customers get their advertising in front of the right target, and the right decision maker at that target, at the right time,” said Carrigan. “And, by organizing around the D-U-N-S Number, our customers can finally connect their offline customer management data with their online advertising campaigns, creating that vital bridge between ad tech and marketing tech.”
Dun & Bradstreet data is then mapped to three hundred online segments. These segments utilize anonymous data including size variables, industry, job function, propensity to purchase specific products, and likelihood of qualifying for loans or company credit cards. Segments are then delivered to partners including Oracle, Adobe, Google, Xaxis and Nielsen. Furthermore, the firm’s global direct sales team offers bespoke segments for custom targeting.
“[The] whole programmatic wave, it’s all moving to B2B right now. And we’re starting to see some really nice uptake because we’re available for all the major buying platforms,” said Carrigan. “We’re also selling direct licenses to marketers as well and obviously we’ve got a portfolio already of sales and marketing solutions. This is a really nice complement to that and we’re trying to catch this wave and really deliver scale in a market that’s highly fragmented. So we’re pretty excited about this. It’s a great example of leveraging our core data in a new use case and it’s a great place for us to be.”
Adding Value to Hoover’s
Dun & Bradstreet also moved to quickly integrate NetProspex contacts into its Hoover’s sales intelligence service and used the NetProspex CleneStep contact verification process to validate Hoover’s contacts. The result was a deeper set of accurate contacts within Hoover’s and other Dun & Bradstreet contact-based offerings. The swap also saved Dun & Bradstreet several million dollars in contact acquisition costs.
NetProspex is also one of Hoover’s new Concierge Services for SMBs. Concierge services are turnkey marketing services for SMBs that have limited marketing resources.
Investing in NetProspex
A further sign of the strategic importance of NetProspex is the continuing investment in the NetProspex Workbench service. Workbench is a cloud-based data hygiene hub which verifies contacts (phone, email, and address), enriches the records with firmographics and technographics, provides segment and data hygiene analytics, and delivers net-new contacts. Their data health report is a slick PDF analysis of contact file health and segmentation. It is given away free as it also promotes Workbench enrichment (pre and post enrichment rates) and prospecting services.
The first thing that D&B did after acquiring NetProspex was swap out the weak firmographics attached to NetProspex contacts and replace them with D&B firmographics from their WorldBase file. This provides NetProspex with both more accurate firmographics and a much deeper set of company linkages.
Why linkage is important: Each new lead should be scored to determine whether to nurture the lead or send it immediately to a sales rep. Linkage data ensures that contacts associated with subsidiaries or branches of current customers and prospects are immediately forwarded to the appropriate sales rep. Furthermore, qualification is based upon the parent company, not simply the size information of the subsidiary or branch. Finally, channel conflict is reduced if leads are properly routed to the appropriate sales rep. Reliable firmographic and linkage enrichment provides a neutral third-party source for lead routing.
In January, NetProspex released a new dashboard set to its Workbench cloud-based data hygiene products. According to Dun & Bradstreet, “The dashboards keep track of consumption levels and alert you when you are in need of Targeted Data or a Data HealthScan. Now you can also gain insight into your Eloqua connectors in terms of performance and data enrichment.”
Data Management subscribers now see a Data HealthScore meter which indicates the overall quality of their most recent data HealthScan. They are also shown data management scores over time.
Target Data subscribers can view the total number of contacts acquired over time and a Current Consumption meter which shows “the exact percentage of contact data you have consumed.” NetProspex also added calendars to the service indicating the last time data was managed by the platform and the recommended next action date.
Finally, NetProspex increased the number of US contacts to 42 million. Each of these contacts includes an email and a significant percentage contain direct dial numbers.
While the Workbench service has long offered analytics, NetProspex recently added two analytical models to their Targeted Data subscriptions fulfilled by its Workbench platform. The two scores assist with segmentation, lead scoring, and messaging. Spend Capacity is based upon “non-traditional predictive segments such as UCC filings, inquiries and SIC revenue %.” The predictive score ranks the spend capacity of a firm between one and one hundred.
The second modeled score is Growth Trajectory which “anticipates the future growth or decay of a business based on a mix of criteria including revenue, borrow levels, credit inquiries, order frequency and spend levels.”
Targeted Subscriptions help marketers scrub their marketing database of poor or outdated leads. Records are standardized, verified (phone, email, and address), and enriched with Dun & Bradstreet company and contact data (42 million US B2B contacts with emails and direct dials). The subscription then maintains the marketing dataset and replaces bad records with good ones. The service includes Workbench Analytics concerning segmentation, technographics, and data quality.
“Data analytics (based on facts not probabilities) have not been readily available to the average marketer. That’s no longer the case. D&B is leveraging our deep expertise in understanding and analyzing company data and providing analytical insights as a value-added dimension to our Targeted Data Subscribers — no data scientist or fancy software needed,” says the firm.
According to Carrigan, Dun & Bradstreet generated more than ten million dollars in cross-sales revenue in its first year. This would include both cross-selling contact hygiene and enrichment services from NetProspex into the Dun and Bradstreet customer base and selling Dun & Bradstreet services to NetProspex clients. A key cross-sale is NetProspex contact enrichment and D&B Optimizer company enrichment sales. Optimizer lacked contact enrichments so NetProspex closes that gap.
What’s more, Dun & Bradstreet recognizes that the Optimizer platform needs to be modernized and announced plans to build company Optimizer services on the Workbench platform. Once completed, Workbench will provide a broader utility to marketers that need both lead (contact based) and account (company based) enrichment of their marketing automation platforms and CRMs.