• Marketing automation platforms provide out-of-the box contact field taxonomies
  • Organizations often find these generic contact fields do not meet their objectives
  • Taxonomies should include contact information, demographic data, routing rules and qualification criteria

A question we are often asked is, “Is there a common taxonomy for our team to use to create fields in our marketing automation platform? Do you have a standard list for each value?”

Typically, this taxonomy is provided out-of-the-box inside the administration function of the marketing automation platform (MAP). We are not aware of a standard list of fields or values. Most of our clients create their own taxonomy of contact fields and customize the system fields, incorporating the following criteria (this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. Contact. This includes the required fields for followup with the prospect. Examples include email, phone, social media handles, address, company name and Web site. For those marketing outside North America, commonly used personalization tactics are different and additional fields should be collected or alternative options for answers should be provided (see the blog post “Contacting the Continent: Personalizing European Communication”).

  2. Demographics. This includes account and individual demographics. Individual values may include language, level, department and function as well as location (which may differ from headquarters). Account information can include industry, revenue, employee count and vertical.

  3. Routing. This includes the location details and account demographics for the company or prospect that determine which marketing and sales resource would be assigned.

  4. Qualification. This is the most variable of all of the criteria – qualification requirements vary from one company to another. We have clients who need to know what technology platforms an organization uses, or perhaps the number of hospital beds is more relevant than the size of company. Perhaps the fiscal-year end date is important, or the longevity or tenure of a certain process or technology. It is important to have a common and consistent format. For example, telephone is a common field, but how you enter the number needs to be consistent. Names should be added with the first letter capitalized.

Marketers should consider working with the sales operations team or the administrator of the sales force automation platform to ensure fields and field values are identical in each system. This might include updating or adding new field values inside one or both of the systems and will also require a hierarchy and consolidation rules.

There is significant value in getting this strategy right. The value includes better engagement from prospects in your marketing, more focus on the preferences and interests of the prospects and better results from the marketing programs. Otherwise, if the contact taxonomy is flawed, all the hard work of your marketing programs could disappear into a black hole.