Imagine that you’re running marketing for a global company with a $3.9B market cap. One of your core products is the world’s largest commercial database, with more than 265 million company records and 30,000+ data sources. Bonus fact: that database gets updated 5 million times per day.
How would you go about using this resource to personalize the customer experience with your upcoming website redesign?
This question has been on top-of-mind for Dun & Bradstreet’s marketing team lately. Over the last 10 months, the company has been entrenched in a large-scale marketing technology initiative that leads to the all-new dnb.com debuting today.
“When you look at our marketing strategy overall and what our CMO Rishi Dave has put in place, there are really three main pillars,” says Josh Mueller, D&B’s SVP of digital, operations and demand gen. “The first is to modernize our 175-year-old brand values and culture. The next big thing is to develop a world class go-to-market strategy. And finally, we’re looking to use digital more effectively to scale pipeline generation for our sales team in a data-inspired way.”
That’s the vision.
Dave, Mueller and the rest of the marketing organization have spent the last two years bringing these three pillars to life. In the following interview, Mueller shares what he’s learned along the way – and how that's been applied to the modernized dnb.com.
Tell us about your frame of reference. What is the role of your team within D&B, and what are some of the key challenges that you’re tackling?
My organization has two primary objectives. The first is to provide a truly great digital experience for all Dun & Bradstreet customers. The second is to develop, optimize and scale our demand generation engine for all of our lines of business. To enable this, I’ve organized teams around the buyer’s journey. These groups focus on each aspect of the demand gen funnel: targeting outside of our owned properties, capturing and converting on dnb.com and nurturing through closing and beyond. I’ve asked other groups to lead initiatives spanning across the entire funnel, such as customer experience and digital campaigns.
Historically, from a digital perspective, we’ve been primarily focused on our small to mid-sized customers – what we call emerging businesses. Our enterprise accounts have been almost entirely sales-driven in that regard. But as a company, we recognized that we needed to regroup with a very modern approach to targeting enterprise customers – through inbound marketing and personalization, for example. Our site just wasn’t built to do that.
So we had to go back and fundamentally determine what we were trying to accomplish, adding an entirely new dimension to what we needed to achieve online.
How does this frame of reference translate into the actions you’re taking, tactically?
Our digital demand generation strategy is only as strong as its weakest link. Because of that, we are aggressively modernizing everything we do from the initial touchpoints online through conversion and retention. Working at Dun & Bradstreet is every marketer’s dream because we have the competitive advantage of using our own data. Fully utilizing the depth and breadth of that data in real time is one of the key tenets in our strategy because it equips us to be much more targeted and increase our overall effectiveness.
With the launch of the new dnb.com, how will you be using D&B data to shape the new experience?
On the surface, the new dnb.com may look like a simple redesign, but there’s a lot happening behind the scenes. We’ve architected it from the ground up to fully utilize our own data sources, such as Audience Solutions (a resource for deterministic data) in addition to behavioral data that we collect using Adobe’s Marketing Cloud. This allows us to personalize the experience for visitors and systematically move prospects along a long and complex buying cycle. With this vision in mind, we’ve also completely modernized our website from a creative, modular content, information architecture (IA) and user experience (UX) perspective.
As we go live we have twelve different versions of the homepage, with each personalized at the persona level. To inform this, we collected and analyzed our current performance data around content consumption patterns and actions taken on our site. We also went out and evaluated the best of the best across industries.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to transition this quickly into a full website rebuild. But I’m glad we pursued the initiative because our site wasn’t built for our current go-to-market strategy or around the specific personas we’re targeting. Now, we got to build it the right way the first time. We’re not taking something and trying to edit it, or massage it or optimize it. It’s something that we got to build from scratch that is completely aligned to our company strategy, and we got to do the blueprints in a way that provides the foundation for future growth.
Can you tell me more about your targeting strategy and the resulting processes that you’ve implemented?
Dun & Bradstreet serves small businesses and the world’s largest organizations. We also do this across multiple personas and lines of business. As a global company, we believe we should be able fully articulate the breadth of what we do from a single destination, but certainly not with a one-size-fits-all approach. We need to serve different content to an owner of a small business than we would to a CMO of a Fortune 50 company. Whenever possible, we will use data to make the determination and provide the corresponding experience. That isn’t always possible, so we've also built out intuitive self-segmentation and a user-centric information architecture.
On the enterprise side, we’ve been implementing an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, which basically boils down to providing a personalized experience to a key set of strategic accounts.
For example, if we’re targeting 15,000 accounts, we can rank those by propensity to buy with models that our analytics and insights team has built. We can then look at the top tier of those accounts and use our Web Visitor ID product to determine when a visitor is from one of those accounts. When a visitor comes to dnb.com from one of those accounts, we'll have the ability to serve custom content created specifically for that account. This will allow us to provide better service to them around solutions where we already have a partnership and cross-sell and up-sell in specific areas where we believe we can add value. We can also send these accounts directly to these tailored experiences using account-specific vanity URLs, passing parameters in our programmatic media and using account specific marketing automation techniques.
I would imagine that an initiative of this scale requires a process of testing and iteration before deployment. How did you handle that piece of the puzzle?
One of the things my team is probably tired of hearing me say is, “The day you launch a new site experience is the worst day that it’ll ever perform.”
It may perform better than your previous website from day one, but it isn’t even close to where it can go. It hasn’t been pressure-tested. It hasn’t been out in the wild. So, you have a lot of hypotheses, you used a lot of data, but your customers and prospects haven’t come in to tell you where you are right and wrong. So you have to be very agile and adopt a test-and-learn mentality. And one of our core brand values is to be relentlessly curious, and so it’s good that we have that culture, because as a digital marketer, you have to always be adapting and changing.
Even though we’re just launching, we already have our post-launch optimization plan. We’ll be doing extensive A/B and multivariate testing around both the site experience and usage from a personalization perspective. We’ll be testing labels, taxonomy, content and user flows, for instance. We’ll be testing and scaling up efforts continuously.
And then what does the future hold for evolving this program?
Well, we want to launch and scale our website personalization and optimization program – first in North America, and then on to Europe and Asia. We’ll also be continuously improving what we’re doing, with the goal of providing stronger support to our sales teams. We should be our own best case study for what is possible with Dun & Bradstreet data. And finally, we’ll be looking for opportunities to build a greater sense of community.
We want dnb.com to be more than a place for consuming information. We want to share thought leadership, invite participation and give access to our employees behind the walls of D&B. That’s our vision and motivation that will guide us for years to come.