Website analytics refers to the practice of tracking a variety of behaviors of visitors to a website including traffic, clickpath, conversion rates, attribution, and more.
You might be familiar with Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics platforms. These are fantastic tools for providing insights into website traffic volume, but they have their limitations. For effective account-based marketing to take place, B2B marketers need to know exactly which companies are visiting their website. By integrating reverse IP lookup data into your website analytics platform you can not only see sheer traffic volume, but you can dive deeper into your traffic to see exactly who is visiting your site. To read more about how IP address intelligence can enhance Google Analytics, check out our article on Reducing Adwaste.
In a B2B context, content personalization involves displaying customized website content based on visitor data. This can include various firmographic attributes – industry, revenue, employee count, and more – with the end goal of engaging the viewer. Leveraging dynamic content on your website is one of the most effective ways to deliver 1:1 marketing at scale and drive higher website conversion rates. IP tracking technologies determine what company the visitor is coming from and provide firmographic information (industry, revenue, location, and more). This data is then used by platforms like Google Optimize and Adobe Target to personalize your website by showing relevant content to the visitor based on their firmographic profile.
This process happens in a few milliseconds – in the time it takes a webpage to load. This is good news for marketers who want to offer real-time personalized content and experiences on their website.
IP intelligence technologies allow B2B marketers to leverage firmographic data to customize everything from a simple banner saying “Hello Company X”, all the way to creating entirely unique navigation and content for high-value target audiences.
On average, only around 3% of your website traffic will convert into a lead via a contact form, direct email, etc. Retargeting is a highly effective way to re-engage with accounts that have visited your website but have left without reaching out. Reverse IP lookup technologies can gather website visitor information including their IP address, which can then be leveraged to serve ads directly to those IP addresses associated with accounts that have visited your site. To see retargeting in action check out our article on 5 Ways to Decrease Adwaste.
Website fraud can take many forms including phishing, credit card scams, ad fraud and more. Reverse IP lookup technologies can be utilized to detect fraudulent activity on your site by uncovering the IP addresses of your website traffic and allowing you to set up defensive measures against online fraudsters. More on that in our IP geolocation article.
Public vs. Private IP Data
IP address data is vast, consisting of thousands of sources and various methods to access account-level information from an IP address. However, when it comes to reverse IP lookups (IP address intelligence to the savvy marketer), where and how you find IP address information makes a huge difference. The main options for gathering useful company data consist of public data sources and private data sources.
- Public Data Sources – Sources such as Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) contain self-reported information from companies that lease large portions of IP addresses, such as Internet service providers (ISPs) and large enterprise companies like Cisco, Apple, and IBM.
- Private Data Sources – These are companies that collect IP address information using proprietary methods and manage their databases by devoting vast resources of data specialists, algorithms, and other systems to the end goal of having the most accurate, normalized, and complete data set.
Public IP address data is generally free to access, but as we will see later, there are numerous issues that arise when using this data.
Here are some of the main differences between public and private IP address data:
- Data Quality – Using public data sources to gather firmographic information is like trying to hunt in the dark or fish without a pole – a lot of the time you won’t get much, and what you do get won’t be what you want. The information stored in public registries is generally self-reported by the companies who lease the IP addresses themselves and published without any review, leading to numerous mistakes in the public record. With no incentive or penalty programs in place to ensure data accuracy in these records, they are often riddled with inaccuracies. Private data, on the other hand, is much more robust, accurate, and up-to-date compared to the data stored in a public record.
- Data Recency – In our experience, 7-10% of IP addresses change ownership each month, but public data sources aren't updated regularly – meaning the information available on a public registry could be months or even years old. On the other hand, premier private data sources are updated in real-time, giving you access to the most up-to-date IP address information possible.
- ISP and WiFi Filtering – If you’ve ever tried to figure out who's on your website by doing a basic reverse IP address lookup and it returned an ISP you know how frustrating this can be. This happens when the companies that lease IP addresses fail to provide their information to an ISP or the ISP themselves do not provide the information to an internet registry. These are a dead-end for B2B marketers and the registry might as well just say “we don’t know who it is." However, since private IP data technologies use multiple sources of information to determine IP address ownership, they are able to look beyond an ISP to uncover the real last-mile connectivity ownership of an IP address.
Firmographics – Firmographics are traits about companies such as industry, revenue, employee count, location, etc. that B2B marketers use to segment their markets, find target accounts, measure campaign effectiveness and more. These traits are paramount to leveraging your website visitor data for account-based marketing. However, even if you are lucky enough to find an accurate and up-to-date entry in a public database, you will only have access to a small fraction of the company’s firmographic data.
|Public Sources||Private Sources|
|Company Name||Company Name||Website||NAICS Description|
|Visitor Location||Visitor Location||City||NAICS Code|
|Visitor City Postal Code||Company Postal Code||Telephone Number||Latitude/Longitude|
|Visitor City Latitude/Longitude||Company Address||Employee Count||Stock Symbol|
|Region Abbr.||Region Abbr.||Revenue||Social Media URLs|
|Region||Region||SIC Group||ISP/WiFi Filter|
|Country Abbr.||Country Abbr.||SIC Description||Confidence Score|
|Country||Country||SIC Code||Trade Name|
Not only do private data sources give you the same firmographic information that public data sources do, but they also provide a vast amount of additional information that can be used to enhance sales and marketing efforts.
Moving beyond public IP address data and elevating your business intelligence can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your campaigns and increase revenue generation at all stages of the funnel. However, when it comes to choosing an IP data vendor, picking the right one can mean the difference between success and failure.
So here’s a list of 10 questions you should ask when considering IP vendors.
1) How Many Identifiable Companies are in Their Database?
Not every website visitor's IP address matches to a company. In fact, the percentage of IP traffic from companies can vary widely based on a number of factors, like your specific industry, product or service, etc. However, a good question to ask the vendor is how many identifiable companies they have in their database. This will give you an idea of how robust their data is and how many companies they can possibly identify.
2) Do They Have Data on IPv4 and IPv6 Addresses?
Thanks to the explosion of internet-enabled devices in the past decade, there are over 340 undecillion IP addresses between IPv4 and IPv6 in existence. If you’re only seeing data on one address space, you’re missing a major part of the picture. Finding a vendor that has data on both IP address spaces will ensure you get all the IP data out there.
3) Do They Offer ISP and WiFi Filtering?
If you’re running an account-based marketing campaign, it’s useless to see that AT&T or Comcast visited your site 1,500 times last month (I hate to burst your bubble, but they didn’t). These are small or medium-sized companies that are leasing IP addresses from these Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and without the proper technology in place, the trail ends here. The same goes for filtering out public WiFi – a form fill from a Starbucks WiFi is not valuable.
However, good IP intelligence companies can identify when an IP address belongs to an ISP or public WiFi and filter them out. With these filters in place, you can be sure you’re working with actionable business intelligence to power your account-based strategies.
4) How Often Do They Update Their Data?
We have a saying around our office: “We like our cars vintage, not our data.” IP addresses are constantly changing last-mile ownership, 7-10% every month to be exact, so how often database records are updated makes a huge difference. Ideally, you should look for a company that updates its records in real-time to ensure that when you make a data call, you get the most up-to-date information possible.
5) Are They Relying Solely on Public IP Address Data?
For reasons too numerous to mention here, public data sources (like Regional Internet Registries) are often riddled with inaccurate, outdated, and missing information. So when selecting an IP vendor, asking where and how they source their IP information will potentially save you a lot of headaches and bad information. Ideally, an IP vendor should have multiple data sources and methodologies behind their data to ensure that you’re getting the most accurate information possible.
6) Do They Source Their IP Data Ethically?
As we’ve seen in recent years, web browsers, Congress, and society as a whole are all moving in the direction of placing individual privacy above all else. This means the days of collecting personal data through cookies are numbered. Here are two more in-depth resources for reference: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Processing Agreement.
An important question to raise when selecting an IP data vendor is how they gather, process, and store their data. If you want to ensure your data will be reliable, accurate, and (most importantly) legally compliant, selecting a vendor that specializes in purely IP-based data will give you peace of mind as the landscape of data privacy evolves.
7) Do They Deliver Firmographic Data Associated With IPs?
Ask the vendor if they offer a unique identifier such as a domain name to pair firmographic information with an IP address. If not, you’ll need to find another data source to match those domains to company firmographics. However, a good IP data vendor will be able to provide detailed company information associated with the IP addresses as well.
If they do offer firmographic data, this would also be an excellent opportunity to go in-depth and find out what specific information they offer. Company data such as industry, revenue, employee count, location, etc. will give your organization the information to take your account-based sales and marketing campaigns to the next level.
8) Do They Play Well With Others (Do They Integrate With Your Existing Technology Stack)?
You don’t want to have to learn a new platform; you have enough on your plate. A vendor that seamlessly integrates into your existing technology stack will deliver the information you need while eliminating the learning curve associated with adopting a new platform.
9) How Do They Deliver Their Data?
In the search for the perfect IP data vendor, good data is paramount, but the way it’s delivered to you is also crucial in choosing the vendor that is right for your business needs. Here are some ways IP address information can be presented:
- API – An application programming interface (API) is a very common way in which systems communicate with one another. In essence, an API would allow your existing marketing technologies to input IP address data directly into their systems automatically.
10) How Robust is Their API?
Assuming you’re going to use an API to inject IP data directly into your technology stack, it’s important to determine how well it performs as this will be directly linked to the success of many account-based efforts.
Some points to consider when evaluating an API are:
- Speed/Response Time - The round-trip time it takes for your system to query the vendor’s database and return IP address information. If your use case includes real-time website content personalization, then you should look for companies with response times that are sub 100 milliseconds (round trip).
- Cost - Ask about the cost per query or cost per mille (cost for every thousand queries) against their database. This will vary based on your website traffic, but it will give you some idea of how much it will ultimately cost.
- Network Uptime - This is the time that their servers are online and active month over month, which should be highly consistent. You should expect to see somewhere close to 100% uptime (and by that we mean at least 99.5%). But don’t just take their word for it, ask for third-party validation of uptime statistics. Any credible company will have an outside source monitoring their network uptime and be able to share that data with you. Services like Pingdom monitor and report on things like network uptime, speed, etc. that can provide you insights about the quality of the network.
- Scalability - If you decide to invest in an IP data vendor, you should look for one that can grow with you. If all goes well and your website traffic increases, you want to make sure that the vendor you choose can handle the increased query volume without sacrificing the speed or quality of their data.
Bonus Question: Will They Let You Test Their Data?
Any company worth their salt should be able to offer you a data test, which would involve resolving a list of IP addresses, so you can identify their match rate. They should provide you with ALL their data, not just a percentage of match rates. If you’re using an API, don’t hesitate to ask for an API sandbox account for testing.
Now, this list is not an end all be all. There are many questions you have to ask yourself when adopting any new technology within your organization. These questions are meant to get the conversation started and give you some insight into things you might want to consider asking when shopping around for IP data vendors. If you do decide to take the leap and unleash the power of IP address intelligence into your sales and marketing stack, you won’t be disappointed.
If you want to learn more about KickFire’s own IP address intelligence technology check out our guide!