Let’s imagine you’re a research manager and you decide to overhaul the analytics software for your team. This is a relatively new process for you, so it takes a fair amount of research and you finally narrow down your choices to a couple. Some more ‘asking around’ for recommendations and you finally pick one that you would like to know more about before finalizing the purchase.
You open up the website, fill up their form for a demo and wait for the vendor’s team to get back to you. You immediately get an automated response, but it takes a 3–4 business days for you to get an actual call back for discussion. When you do finally speak to someone, he asks you for the same information you had filled out on the webform. He then sets up a time to take you over the demo but ends up sharing information which doesn’t fully align with what the website claims. In the meantime, you get another call from their marketing department offering you something similar at a completely different cost range.
At the end of this process, annoyance and confusion leave you reconsidering your choices. More importantly, at the vendor’s end redundancies pile up, costing them loss of efficiency, time, energy and money.
Needless to say, it’s a no-win situation for everyone involved. But what’s more? This entire situation isn’t as uncommon as we’d like to believe. It happens in multiple sectors, and irrespective of company size, brand name and years the company has been around.
Now, let’s park this thought for a second.
Consider now, that you’re the chief marketing officer for a company, and you’re trying to make a decision about which companies to focus on to drive revenue for the coming year. You ask your team to make recommendations and suddenly you find at hand reports from different sources — your social media team, your website analytics, your internal research, past customer list, suggestions on focus areas from internal stakeholders. Each data source claiming different ‘key accounts’, ‘audience types’ and ‘suggested big-wins’.
There is no way to link one data source to another, no way to consolidate the learnings and you are unsure which of these overlap. Are the audience individuals or companies? How can you build a general profile? Is there a persona at all? To add to this, you discover a couple more sources of “useful” data.
At the outset, the above 2 scenarios may seem very different — one is external focused and in relation to customer relationship management, while the other is internal focused on data consolidation for a marketing decision.
However, there is a huge common thread — it is reflective of the company’s point of view on data management systems (or shall we say lack of it?!)
The absence of a structured data management system and analytics to identify, build and nurture customer relationships and in turn accelerate business decisions and growth.
In the first case, the mismatch happens at the sales and marketing level as there is lack of clarity in coordination. And in the second, there is a need to make a marketing decision without a way to stitch disparate information sources together. But overall, the struggle gets real for the company to move forward efficiently. Both of these situations can actually easily feed into each other and compound problems.
But, why would such a problem occur you may ask? What stands in the way of building a wholistic, data-driven B2B marketing strategy?
Studies reveal, lack of expertise, reliable sources of information and platform integration as the top reasons.
And, if we were to dig a little deeper, the greatest potential for transformation with high quality data lies in higher revenue generation, improving customer experience, retention and finally driving higher ROI.
In all honesty, not all companies need a B2B data strategy. However, if you’re looking to use predictive modeling, account-based targeting and advanced programmatic strategies to your advantage, you need a reliable strategy based on robust, consolidated data repositories.
How do you start to build your data-based marketing strategy?
1. Move away from the ‘Data Race’:
In an attempt to be more data-oriented , most companies spend a lot of money and resources on collecting, buying and uncovering new data sources. It’s not about acquisition, but integration. The question is how can you refine what you have so you can build a singular, seamless picture of your audience across touch points?
2. Quality and Accuracy to the Rescue:
There are some industry-vetted ways of making sure records are clean, up-to-date and remain useful. In a study by OpenPrise, the following are the most common ways used by Marketers to ensure quality and accuracy of data:
3. Understanding Data Types:
B2B Marketing requires close inspection of audience data to discern identity: Account Based as well as Individual. The relationship between these two needs to be the building block of your targeting efforts to ensure efficient and effective usage of resources. Also, data comes in various ways — demographic, behavioral, firmographic and technographic. Use these to inform your touch points and means of persuasion.
4. The Ease of Analytics:
Think of the ‘sophistication in analytics’ as the proverbial oil to your marketing machinery. It allows for clear cut communication, is a centralized way of updating multiple stakeholders and the ease and readability of data allow for faster, efficient, data-based decision making. Predictive Modeling, Segmentation, Fit Scores can strengthen your ability to implement advanced strategies.
5. Integrate Platforms and Integrate Intent:
Lack of a singular, integrated platform has by far been cited as the most common reason that drives different teams to work in silos. There is lack of clarity on the fulfillment of objectives as well as inability to close the loop on a wholistic marketing strategy. Build communication between platforms to drive data integration between various teams, after all you’re all going after the same end goal — sustainable business growth.
Marketing Data Strategy wasn’t built in a day, and while the process can seem daunting, treat the above as key thought starters because these will soon go from being competitive advantages to mere hygiene factors.