data quality blog

It would be foolish to believe that just by gating your content with a web form, you’ll suddenly turn on successful lead generation that just works. Gating content is an established method for generating leads and growing lists, but simply focusing on filling in the fields of a form in exchange for some valuable content is not enough. Establishing whether or not that data can be used in marketing automation or segmentation by ensuring its consistency is actually the key factor. 

Marketers need to change and evolve their gating strategy so that the data quality is clean and uniform from the point of collection. It saves time and enables your team to develop a strong lead generation technique which is easy to implement from the word go.
But where to start? Identifying good practice in the following five areas of gating strategy will take your data quality game to the next level.

1. Normalization is critical for modern digital marketing

Let’s start with normalization. Normalization limits the values you receive in specific fields to a set list of standardized values. It reduces data redundancy and improves data integrity. Normalization lies in the heart of sound data governance – which is the overall management, integrity and security of your data capture.

If you have an existing gating strategy you may have discussed the parameters of your data requirements already. As you develop your gating strategy, detailing how the data will be used will help guide what you need to capture. For example, apart from the name and email of your potential lead, would it be helpful to know the size of the company as well as the company name and job title? 

Speaking of job titles, normalization is particularly useful in this field. Identifying your normalization standards means providing the set selection of answers – in this case – the job title field. This is different to a free-text field, for example, where the door is opened to hundreds of variations of job titles… Who knows the difference between a Buyer and a Procurement Coordinator anyway? By limiting the fields to a selection of values, you are directing the user to choose the closest option. You can then use these values to filter and manage your lists efficiently.

2. Progressive Profiling: Slowly building your data profiles

Imagine you’re meeting someone face to face for the first time. They stand a little too close, ask a few too many questions and some of them are uber-personal. Most people shy away from this behavior and shut down. Progressive profiling deals with this on a form level. You’re unlikely to answer a long form demanding input to a lot of fields – the value exchange just isn’t there.

By building the information gathered over time, progressive profiling allows you to subtly increase the data you have rather than bombarding users with a load of questions from the word go. For example, if you already know the email address and company of a lead, the next time they fill in your form, you can ask more detailed questions like the job title and phone number. The bigger win of progressive profiling is more conversions because you are lowering the barrier to completing a form.

3. End repetition with pre-population

When it comes to form filling, repetition is boring. When users re-visit your site and are completing a different form, be efficient in your data collection by pre-filling the form with information you already know. Data pre-population allows you to add the known data for a lead in the form. This is usually integrated through your marketing automation platform, such as Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot, etc.  Presenting the data to your leads allows them to make changes to any inconsistencies. This cleans your list straight from the source. It’s a win-win for data quality and gating strategy.

4. Data enrichment with third-party services

Data quality can also be improved through data enrichment. This helps marketing ops teams to enhance the data they are already capturing. Data enrichment relies on an integration with a third party service, which is an external, authoritative data source. 

An example provider is Demandbase, their smart-form service provides account data in the background as a form is completed. When users type their company name, for example,  Demandbase provides a drop down list of companies as an auto-complete field. The user can then select their company from the list and the additional account data such as revenue range, number of employees or SIC codes is captured in the background into form hidden fields. 

Account data enrichment allows you to gain valuable information for contact to account assignment, account based marketing or more accurate segmentation. Demandbase is by no means the only third party application to provide this service – it’s important to source the best one for your data requirements.

5. Advanced validation and masking for increased data clarity

Basic field validation ensures users submit specific fields as part of a submission. Beyond that, more advanced techniques can help improve data quality as part of a drive for better data governance.

For example, simply asking for a phone number or email address in an open field is asking for trouble. 

In some cases, you can end up with a lead’s personal email address, which muddies the approach for B2B targeting. Stopping users from entering free public email addresses will encourage greater capture of business emails. Blocking GMail and Yahoo domains for example.

And ideally you want phone numbers to match standard international formats and you probably need email addresses to be business-specific. Data masking techniques when requesting phone numbers can shape the number into acceptable formats as the user types ensuring your data is compatible with other parts of sales and marketing infrastructure (CRM or telephony tools for example).

Further considerations for gating strategy

The easier forms are to integrate into your website and your Marketing Automation Platform, the more successful your lead generation will be. Avoiding inconsistencies in your data capture by following the above five rules when developing a gating strategy are not the only things you should focus on. However, making these changes will increase the quality and usability of your lead data.

The quality of your data is one of the most important aspects of modern digital marketing. Interested in learning more? is here to help guide you through your gating strategy. 

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