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How to build a B2B marketing database from scratch

B2B marketing


Being tasked with creating a B2B marketing database from scratch may be daunting. And your head may be spinning with questions such as: How do you find prospects quickly? How do you verify the information?

But don’t worry! Building a database is easier than you think.

The importance of a B2B marketing database

A marketing database is important as it allows you to keep track of information about your customers and potential leads. This information is necessary for analytics, segmentation, and marketing communication. Without an up-to-date B2B marketing database it may be difficult to gain new leads or stay in touch with existing customers.

How to build a B2B marketing database

Target audience

To start off the process of building a database you should identify your audience.

Develop buyer personas by creating detailed descriptions of the types of people who are buyers of your product/service. Try to create 3-5 personas to give variety - not all buyers are the same! The descriptions should include information such as job title, industry, pain points, and sites they regularly visit. You may be able to use existing customer profiles to help with this or you may need to do some research into the market.

Once you understand your audience you can start tracking down relevant leads.

B2B Basics: identifying the decision-makers
In this article, we’re going to identify the different types of people in the B2B marketing decision process, along with the types of marketing they’ll respond best to.

Source leads

There are many options on how to source leads and each one has its pros and cons. This section will take you through each option and provide you with the insight you need to decide which is best for your brand. It might even be worth using a combination of methods to grow an even larger database.

Manual sourcing: This method is very time-consuming but cost-effective and allows you to take all your existing contacts and new leads and put them all together. This way also allows you to avoid some of the pitfalls of the other methods.

There are many places to look when manually sourcing leads, here are some of them:

  • Existing customers: All old or current customers from your accounting system.
  • Existing contacts: Relevant business contacts from your, and your colleages’, personal contact lists.
  • Business cards: Many people hoard business cards - use that to your advantage and capture the contacts on your database.
  • Website: Capture visitors’ details by offering them something for their email. For example a whitepaper, newsletter, or free trial.
  • Research: Comb through the web looking for the contact info of potential leads.

Rent data: When you rent a list you don’t see the contact info, you are paying the provider to send out your email to their list on your behalf. You will only know who’s on the list if they open your email and fill out your form on the landing page. A major pro of this method is that your email account won’t be blacklisted as spam.

Buy data: When you buy a list based on your target audience you are paying to see the contact info from the list. You can send out messages to everyone on the list yourself - but be careful! Sending out a ton of emails from a list without checking it over can result in your email account being blacklisted.

Verify data

Regardless of which method you used to source your information, you need to verify all the data to make sure it is accurate, there are no duplicates and the data is clean.

An excel data check can look for duplicates and an email list cleaning service will remove any data where the domain doesn’t exist anymore, spam traps, and fake email addresses.

Once clean, you should reach out to all contacts to ensure that the information is correct and if they are happy to be on the list (this is especially good practice on manual data with old customers). Checking the correctness of the list is important as B2B databases degrade at a rate of 22.5-70.3% every year.

Segment leads

Once your data has been checked and cleaned, you may want to segment the database into buyer personas to allow better targeting of potential leads. This step is optional but will allow you to personalize your approach to communication.

Getting started with B2B marketing segmentation
In this article you’ll find quick primers on some of the most popular and effective methods for B2B marketing segmentation, along with their pros and cons so you can get started on deciding which would be the best approach for you and your business.

How to use a B2B marketing database

Once you have a database set up what do you do with it? There are a few different types of marketing activity that you can use your new database for. You should aim to communicate with your database at least quarterly but monthly if you can, this will help you to stay top of mind. Communicating any less, you risk losing their attention, but any more and your audience may feel bombarded and unsubscribe.

Email marketing

Email marketing is a great way to use your database as it is virtually free. You can also send different emails to your segmented groups or send personalized emails. However, you need to keep your database clean and up-to-date by removing bounced emails and unsubscribes or your account may be flagged as spam.

B2B Basics: Email marketing best practices
As the digital age has progressed, we’ve seen the rise of many new marketing channels. So many, it makes the old workhorse of email marketing seem a tad overshadowed.

Direct mail

Sending a letter in the mail could cost you a few dollars each depending on size and weight, but if you send thousands in bulk the price per letter will go down. You will likely need to send a few rounds of marketing for direct mail to pay for itself.

This may not be as feasible when marketing internationally as the cost per letter will increase dramatically, leaving less room for it to pay for itself.


Telemarketing is the most expensive type of marketing activity using a database but can be effective in generating leads. You can hire a telemarketing company to take on this task as it can be time-consuming.

Final thoughts

Although setting up a B2B marketing database from scratch may seem like a long, boring task, it’s vital to keeping your customer relations healthy and generating new leads. Having an accurate record of customers allows you to effectively target and communicate to them, while also helping to avoid the risks of blacklisting. Leaving your database untouched can have serious implications for your email account, so remember to regularly check the accuracy of your database!

Got some hot tips on how to build a B2B marketing database? Maybe you've got questions B2B marketing experts can answer. Head to the B2B Marketing Alliance Community!

Written by:

Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca wants to be a florist when she grows up - too bad she’s allergic! For now she studies marketing and writes mildly amusing content.

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How to build a B2B marketing database from scratch