How O2 improved its data management, achieved better marketing-sales alignment, and enhanced lead generation

By Chuck Leddy

As a global telecommunications company based in the UK, O2 is in the business of communication. But the company’s marketing team found itself experiencing problems around its data quality and lack of alignment between marketing and sales. Some six years ago, O2 decided to make a change, working with Sojourn Solutions to enhance its data management processes and drive better internal alignment around lead management.

At a recent Virtual Eloqua User Group meeting hosted by Sojourn’s Karin Pindle, O2’s Louise Winch (Head of Data and Lead Generation) described exactly what O2 did in order to transform its marketing — and detailed the great results the telecommunications company achieved. The formula Winch described may be simple to state, but took time and effort (and budget) to ultimately achieve: better data quality + better campaign management processes = stronger sales-marketing alignment + increased marketing ROI.

Technology helps, but an integrated approach is needed

Winch began by describing how O2 used its tech platforms, including Salesforce and Eloqua, to improve data quality and better deploy its data for marketing purposes. O2 began “by taking our data management back in-house, meaning we were able to connect things up better internally” and drive alignment, says Winch.

Winch also explained that O2 had to “change its communications strategy. We moved to an always-on strategy where we had a full, end-to-end view” of the customer journey. O2 also needed to enhance the skillsets of its team members, turning them into an in-house agency with all the necessary expertise in tech and processes. Sojourn helped the entire way.

O2 also implemented a contact washing machine (CWM) to ensure and maintain data quality as data came in, moved through, and got deployed via O2’s Salesforce and Eloqua platforms. Quality data, which O2 now had more control over internally, became “the fuel for our marketing programs” and led to higher-quality leads getting sent on to sales (who converted them into more revenues).

Working with Sojourn to drive benefits

O2’s improved data quality brought multiple benefits for marketing and sales. Marketing was able to “increase the number of its campaigns while also gaining more efficiency in campaign delivery,” said Winch. She noted that “a blast campaign that used to take us 6 weeks to conduct now takes us just 6 minutes.” Improved data also enabled O2 to segment its customer base and drive engagement/ROI through better targeting of content. O2 worked closely with Sojourn to implement better lead management and lead scoring, as well as better email processes like send time optimization (STO), which led to higher email open rates.

Using its contact washing machine, O2 achieved a data completeness rate of nearly 100%, which led to better targeting and improved lead quality. The result of these initiatives?

“We’ve now got well-established alignment and trust between sales and marketing, which is a byproduct of having such good data,” says Winch.

O2 is on pace for a 62% year-over-year “increase in opportunities handed over to sales in 2020,” says Winch.

As Sojourn’s Charlotte Currie, who’s worked closely with Winch and O2 on their transformation efforts, says: “the contact washing machine has taken out a lot of the manual work of ensuring data quality and also helps O2 classify its leads by relevant customer attributes like job function and job title.” Winch summarized O2’s results: “if you have good data, you improve performance.”

O2’s lessons learned  

Winch shared several key lessons learned along O2’s journey to better data, better lead generations, and tighter marketing-sales alignment. Here’s a few highlights:

  • “Set the bar high, but remain realistic. If you want world-class data, it won’t happen overnight.”
  • “Document your processes” to support scaling and sharing of best practices.
  • “Evangelize the benefits of great data to all involved. Keep communicating.”
  • “Automate where you can.”
  • “Continually review results and share insights with the team.”
  • “Look at what content is getting engagement and consider using it for future campaigns.” As a rule, do more of what’s working and less of what’s not.
  • “Change as you go and remain flexible.”

The takeaway from Winch’s presentation is clear: O2’s commitment and hard work in driving data quality (and improved data management) increased its ability to  deliver better marketing results through its Salesforce and Eloqua platforms, while also driving internal alignment and more leads that were also higher-quality leads. Perhaps the best result of all for O2 is the increased trust and better collaboration between marketing and sales in closing the loop on leads, converting them into more revenue via a more targeted, data-driven approach to customer engagement. 

O2’s impressive results go far beyond simply leveraging technology: O2 has empowered its people and unleashed its processes to work better within a larger, always-on demand generation ecosystem that continues to drive improved performance and revenues.

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