What You Need to Know About Database Marketing

How does your business target potential B2B clients?

Do you send piles of unwelcome junk mail while making multiple cold calls per day?

Or do your strategies involve marketing databases, careful research, personalized contacts, and meticulous relationship building? If your answer is the latter, you’re probably using database marketing.

Database Marketing vs. Direct Marketing

Database marketing definitions often speak of its contrast to direct marketing. In truth, database marketing and direct marketing are far from polar opposites. Database marketing is best described as a descendant of direct marketing. It is more evolved and powerful for B2B marketers but cut from the same cloth.

About Direct Marketing

In traditional direct marketing, companies attempt to take their marketing messages directly to customers. This contact can take multiple forms, including email, direct mail campaigns (such as brochures, catalogs, or mailers), and cold calling. Usually, the goal is to entice or prompt a customer to buy something.

Direct marketing is seldom successful in this standard form because marketers know too little about the people they want to reach. Direct marketers do use customer databases. However, they’re primarily using these databases to find contact phone numbers, mailing addresses, and email addresses.

For the most part, direct marketers care more about the number of their contacts than the quality. The idea is that, by the law of averages, the marketer can prompt more conversions by marketing to more people. A client’s needs, pain points, and contact preferences are often irrelevant to the direct marketer. They’re either put on hold or not considered at all.

With traditional direct marketing, the best chances at campaign success are usually with coupons, promotions, or other money-saving prospects. By giving something of value to customers, direct marketers can prompt conversions. Alas, these conversions also aren’t that valuable. Not just because the marketer must slash prices and profit margins to land them, but also because these customers aren’t likely to become long-term buyers.

The Database Marketing Definition: Rewriting Direct Marketing for the B2B World

True database marketing is different—at least in part.

This type of marketing is still about taking the message directly to prospective clients, rather than using a middleman. The key contrast, though, is that database marketing does not use the same “quantity over quality” approach that direct marketing does. Instead, marketers use detailed data lists to learn about contacts and businesses. These databases include contact names and roles, company names, email addresses, industries, market niches, software systems, and more. By looking at these details, the marketer can find out lots about the client before ever picking up the phone, sending an email, or designing a mailer.

While database marketing evolved out of direct marketing, it is mostly more successful. Using marketing databases to understand client needs, priorities, and pain points, marketers can create more personalized exchanges and marketing pitches. In turn, these personal marketing strategies have a higher rate of conversion than the spray-and-pray approach of traditional direct marketing. There isn’t a lot of engagement with traditional direct marketing because customers/clients don’t get the sense that the brand in question cares about them. Database marketing is more deliberate, which means that sense of value and care is more prevalent.

Using Database Marketing for ABM

As you might expect, database marketing is extremely valuable for ABM. For B2C marketers, account-based marketing isn’t a high priority. There are so many potential customers out there. Spending a lot of time and effort trying to win over one of them (or even a small group) doesn’t make sense. As a result, B2C marketing is usually less targeted and less personalized, hence the use of direct marketing in B2C.

With B2B, though, marketers don’t have the same luxury. Where B2C marketers are primarily trying to prompt sales, B2B marketers need to establish long-term buying relations. And where B2C marketers have a near-limitless supply of new customers to target, B2B marketers have a limited number of potential accounts based on their market niche.

Thus, if you are in B2B marketing, it is more important for you to win the accounts that are out there. You cannot afford tossed-off marketing efforts—especially those that prospects will label as “junk mail” or consider irritating. Instead, everything needs to be carefully considered and calculated to maximize the odds of success.

These qualities and priorities are at the heart of ABM, which stresses the development of robust and long-term client bonds instead of one-time buys. They’re also at the heart of database marketing, which makes personalized contacts and pitches possible. ABM and database marketing go hand in hand.

Database marketing helps you identify key information about your clients. With demographic, firmographic, and technographic data, you can better understand the people and businesses in your target market. From the industry a company services to the technology stack it uses every day, these factors impact needs, priorities, and pain points. By learning about these details, you can anticipate the needs and responses of your clients—a crucial part of ABM.

In short, account-based marketing is less about “we want you to buy from us, to help our business” and more about “we want to help your business.”

Traditional direct marketing is very much concerned with the former. Database marketing gives marketers the information they need to send the latter message.

The Best Practices of Database Marketing

As with any other form of marketing, there is an established list of do’s and don’ts with database marketing. Database marketing is not likely to hurt your brand’s case like junk mail or email spam can. Alas, it can fail as a form of ABM if you aren’t careful.

To understand these best practices, you should spend a few minutes considering the overarching goals of database marketing. Direct marketing is primarily about reaching and targeting prospects at any time. It can be more targeted in some situations. For instance, a holiday sales catalog is obviously a timely pitch. Even marketing efforts pitched to specific impulses, or occasions, are themed around universal things, such as seasons or holidays.

With database marketing, your goal is to target your clients based on many more factors. You want to target the right contacts at the preferred companies in a suitable market. You want to reach these people through the right channels, to maximize the chances that they are going to respond to your contact. You want your pitch to send the right message, based on the client’s wants and needs. You also want to send the right message at the right time, lest it arrives when the client has no interest or need for your offering.

As you can see, smart database marketing is a huge balancing act. There are many different balls that you must keep up in the air if you want to achieve lead conversions. Adhering to these best practices will help ensure a successful database marketing campaign:

1. Try Multi-Channel Marketing

  • Your B2B contacts are just as flexible with their device usage as any consumer. They also use laptops, desktop computers, tablets, or smartphones. Your marketing approach needs to provide a consistent experience across all devices. Multi-channel marketing also means reaching your clients in multiple ways. Email marketing, phone calls, face-to-face meetings, custom landing pages on your website: these are all tactics to help you reach your prospect and help them generously. If you can, try to get a sense of which devices or channels your clients prefer. By targeting your clients through the channels where they like to be reached, you increase your chances of getting a response and starting a conversation. With some luck, that conversation might just lead to conversion.

2. Invest in Data

  • If you decide to utilize database marketing, then data needs to be the lifeblood of your business. You need to build a detailed database of marketing prospects that includes contact details, firmographics, technographics, and more. Moreover, you need to keep this information up to date. If your contact at a company leaves or changes positions, you need to know. If your client adds a new tech installation to its arsenal, you need to know. Building your own database from scratch is an option. However, you might also choose to buy a list, should you find the right marketing database provider. A good provider can offer not only quality data, but also live updates, detailed tech installation data, and more. It is worth paying extra for these features.

3. Track Every Touchpoint

  • A B2B marketing database might start as a list of contact details and firmographic info, but it needs to evolve. Some of those evolutions and updates might come courtesy of your marketing database provider. However, for database marketing to deliver the best results for ABM, you also need to add your own updates. Specifically, you should keep track of all data about every client, from talks to purchase history. Monitoring this information tells you where the client is now, what they need from you, and which marketing tactics work best on them. You can use this information to inform your multi-channel marketing strategies.

4. Use Predictive Analytics to Anticipate Client Needs

  • Defined as an “emerging technology,” it has already made an impression on the B2B marketing realm. Using predictive analytics software along with ABM software like Marketo and Salesforce, it is easier to understand and market to clients based on their position within the “buyer’s journey.” Is a client ready to purchase from you? Or, is a client thinking about halting your service? Predictive analytics can help you anticipate these moments and respond to them suitably.

Predictive analytics, especially, are dependent on thorough marketing databases. While the idea behind predictive analytics is to foresee the future, there is no magic involved. Instead, this process is based entirely on data. Predictive analytics software looks at company data (or “signals”) and then tries to interpret what those signals mean. These signs can fall into a range of categories. Whether a client has a specific type of technology in place (for CRM or payroll processing, perhaps) is a signal. The location, industry, and target market of a client are all signals. An excellent B2B marketing database provides this information and fuels the potential of predictive analytics software.

For example, a company on your client database is expanding to a new market. This action makes that client more likely to purchase your product or service, or makes them a prime target for upselling. By alerting you to this signal, predictive analytics tells you that the client in question is at the prime point in the buyer’s journey for pitching. In other words, you are ready to pitch the right client at the right time, hopefully with the right message.

Kickstart Your Database Marketing Journey

As mentioned, data is the lifeblood of any database marketing campaign. It fuels everything from personalized ABM to predictive analytics. As such, you want your B2B marketing database to be fully detailed from the start, to provide a strong foundation for your campaign. If you wish to purchase a B2B database that you can use as the backbone of your database marketing and ABM strategies, DemandScience is a terrific place to start. Not only are our lists up-to-date and loaded with important details (including contact information, firmographics, and technographics), but they also offer several other unique perks. For instance, our smart and live data updates tell you when contacts move roles, companies adopt new technologies, or businesses branch out into new markets—among other developments.

In short, DemandScience databases will better equip you to understand, target, track, and predict the actions of your clients or prospects.

Ready to get started?

Get in touch with DemandScience today for access to millions of complete business contacts with validated email addresses.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Database_marketing
  • https://www.retailmarketingblog.com/email-marketing/2008/08/20/direct-marketing-versus-database-marketing/
  • https://hearforward.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/the-difference-between-database-marketing-and-direct-marketing/