The 2021 outlook is one of growth. Consider our current state: projected GDP growth, increasing vaccination availability, the imminent reopening of the economy, favorable interest rates, plus many more signs of an upswing. It is clear why the macroeconomic environment is optimistic. B2B businesses, in particular, are poised to reach a new level in sales and growth moving forward. The key to this, however, is effectively leveraging your data.
As the leader of a company in the marketing space, I know that data is an asset that is particularly strong and improving. B2B marketers can create enormous opportunities to grow their businesses by having a core focus on data-driven marketing and outcomes. Data is no longer about looking at the past; it is a predictive tool that can be used to anticipate what’s next.
The collective ability of B2B marketers to adapt to an evolving marketplace and recognize opportunities to align themselves with their customers has been incredible this past year. Tech marketers who once focused largely on massive events to drive their leads now adapt and thrive online. Many became savvy online content creators and currently use digital demand- and lead-generation strategies they once found on a trade show floor. Merchandisers have optimized digital channels and quickly shifted product focus. For example, companies that once sold office-oriented products have shifted to health and wellness products for the home.
And to support this kind of online marketing activity, I have seen B2B marketers broadly adopt deep analytics to extract as much intelligence from their data to work smarter and more efficiently. And what is more, all of these things were done at a velocity that no one would have predicted was possible. The business community must be not only resilient but also forward-looking and innovative.
Looking ahead, B2B companies must hone their digital skills, especially as emerging opportunities come on the horizon such as events and in-person meetings. Data can help unite all of these interactions and be leveraged in marketing decisions. Data can be used to:
Know your customer. Use data to bridge silos and work to fill in the elusive 360-degree view of customers and prospects to optimize those engagements and relationships. For B2B marketers, “knowing the customer” means building up the knowledge to recognize and act on organizational hierarchies and multiple buyer groups to drive more effective campaigns and sales.
Improve sales enablement. Operationalize and activate intent data. Behavior data is critical for smarter automated decision-making, which supports more efficient campaigns. Identifying early interest and knowing which accounts are in-market for your services can change the game for B2B marketers, enabling sales teams to truly prioritize their activities around accounts that have a higher propensity to buy. Look for intent data drawn from valuable resources, refreshed regularly and available by geolocation and not simply limited to URL.
Create more accurate predictive analytics. It is critical that B2B marketers are leveraging only the best, most complete and insightful data in their analytics tools. It is often challenging to define and verify high-quality data as standards will vary from project to project, but analysts rely on the completeness and consistency of a dataset in order to drive decisions. A few of the attributes that marketers should verify and align for best results are timeliness, completeness, consistency, relevance, accuracy and representativeness.
There are challenges that companies will encounter on the path to data-first omnichannel marketing. These include:
• Unifying and normalizing data and insights from disparate parts of the company.
• Creating, improving and maintaining models for the greatest impact across different scenarios, channels and target audiences.
• Implementing and integrating new technologies like CDP or programmatic media buying for CTV in a way that complements current processes.
• Ensuring resources are in place for accurate measurement and attribution feedback.
These challenges can be overcome with a holistic approach that prioritizes agility, testing and improvement over time. Being prepared with the tools and resources in place to address these issues will be the differentiator for success.
With the close of Q1, there is a great cause for optimism. Now is the time to take lessons learned and advance. We must look forward to a bullish marketing environment with more tools available than ever before to allow B2B marketers to be analytical and insightful. There has never been a better time to be a data-driven marketer.
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