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By Lauren Bakewell
Chief Product Officer, Sales & Marketing Solutions
Dun & Bradstreet
17 October 2019
5th Annual Study Uncovers Where B2B Marketers Need to Focus Next
If business-to-business marketers are going to reap the rewards of account-based marketing (ABM) and a consistent, personalized customer experience (CX), we’ve believed for a long time that they need to start with data. But, where B2B data is concerned, there's good news and bad.
Marketers actually have more data than ever before. That's the good news. But, more isn't necessarily better. We see time and time again with our clients that the problem isn't a lack of data. It's getting that data into a consistent and current format and also transforming all that data into actionable insights. Insights that can help B2B marketers deliver a consistent, personal, and exceptional customer experience.
According to the latest B2B marketing and advertising study conducted by Adweek on behalf of Dun & Bradstreet, B2B marketers struggle with data activation. That's why we spend so much of our energy and expertise helping clients do just that: make data actionable. Not just the traditional firmographic data offered by other vendors; we also integrate digital identity, digital behavior, and, perhaps most importantly, analytics. This includes invaluable insights, like who has a propensity to buy; or which office in a large organization is likely to be the decision-making location. None of this is easy to deliver, but fortunately for our clients, we have years of experience with data analytics, leveraging new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). We don't simply deliver data; we help B2B marketers understand global organizations, hierarchies, and other connections between companies.
Another important distinction — and a key to success with both CX and ABM — is access to data that addresses the needs of both sales and marketing, including shared insights and a smooth flow of customer intelligence between the two teams. Our predictive analytics help sales and marketing work together to focus their efforts on the right accounts and contacts. Clients have access to a wide range of use cases and a full portfolio of sophisticated and proven solutions.
Why is all this so valuable right now? B2B marketers surveyed overwhelmingly see the value of delivering a superior experience. 80% of those surveyed said delivering a consistent customer experience across online and real-world channels is extremely or very important to their companies. And nearly 90% feel that B2B organizations need to be as focused on customer experience as their B2C counterparts.
But Customer Experience Depends on Data
While B2B marketers agree that CX should be a key focus, many feel hampered when it comes to leveraging the data they've collected. Again, it's not a matter of quantity but quality, access, and insight. 33% of respondents said they were unable to fully leverage the data and data tools they currently have.
In a separate question, 57% stated that their organizations can't become data-driven until they eliminate marketing data silos. What's clearly missing is a centralized and complete view of customers and prospects. This could be one factor that lead 42% of respondents to agree that their company's marketing relies more on intuition than data.
We’re proud to work with clients globally to help them standardize and structure their data, use predictive analytics to intelligently segment customers and prospects, and then activate all of that knowledge into consistent omnichannel campaigns.
B2B Marketing Presents Unique Challenges
In addition to data challenges, B2B marketers have to manage a more complex sales cycle, which usually includes groups of decision makers rather than a single purchaser. This is one reason why insight into the customer journey is even more important than it would be for B2C marketers. In theory, ABM's holistic approach can provide B2B marketers with a way to track engagement across the organization, zero in on high value accounts, and reach multiple stakeholders in a more relevant and personalized way. And, the commitment to ABM is growing. 60% of the survey's respondents indicated that they are either currently engaged in ABM or plan to be in 2020.
It becomes clear that to effectively employ either ABM or CX, B2B marketers need better data governance. While most organizations have customer relationship management (CRM) systems, less are taking advantage of newer tools like a customer data platform (CDP) or data management platform (DMP) in order to extract the value within all that data.
The takeaways from the report point to steps that can help B2B marketers better leverage the true value of their data, effectively employ ABM, and improve CX in a meaningful way. These are all things that Dun & Bradstreet helps clients with every day:
1. Establish a solid data foundation and strategy
2. Break down data silos for a unified customer view
3. Activate across digital channels, including identifying anonymous website visitors
4. Leverage analytics for better customer segmentation
5. Build an ABM program based on data, insights, and analytics
6. Explore and adopt emerging technologies to stay ahead of the curve (and the competition).