Data is all the rage in marketing today. Everyone is talking about it. “A carefully considered data strategy must be a CMO’s top priority,” says AdAge. Data has been called the “new oil” that fuels marketing today. But B-to-B marketers still struggle to get their full share of value from data.
Ruth P. Stevens
While preparing case studies for my new book, I had the fun of interviewing a bunch of very smart B-to-B marketers to learn how they were applying data and analytics to their marketing objectives. One of the most compelling stories came from Doug Sechrist, vice president of demand marketing at Five9
Selecting solutions and integrating them with your existing technologies is only half the battle. Life with marketing technology gets even more interesting once you start putting it to use. Marketers are still having trouble deploying these systems to their maximum value.
Marketing technology has exploded in the past three years. According to Chief Marketing Technologist, as many as 1,876 tech companies are battling it out for your dollars in 2015, nearly doubled in number from last year. The largest single category in marketing tech is marketing automation, with no fewer than 211 solutions available today.
Marketing technology has evolved in multiple ways, originating in spreadsheets, databases, contact management tools, graphic design software and word processing. The Internet accelerated the process, turning an evolution into a revolution. And the result was a jumble of tools and systems, each seemingly dedicated to solving a section or two of the marketing process. Some of these tools are known in the tech world as “point solutions” and focus on a single activity or segment of what marketers do. Email, for example, or lead scoring. Others attempt to automate large swaths of the process.
Dawn Zier, CEO of the weight-loss firm Nutrisystem, Inc., and 2014 Target Marketing Marketer of the Year, shares her views on the role of marketing technology in her company’s future.
When we think of mobile marketing, what comes to mind is apps and SMS text messaging. But the biggest opportunity in mobile lies in smartphone’s increasing role as the preferred channel for access to digital marketing of all types.
Data drives B-to-B marketing today. And it's a fast-evolving arena. New tools, new technologies, and most important, new buying behavior among businesses—these changes are accelerating the pace and driving new directions for B-to-B data-driven marketing. In preparing my new book on the subject—to be published in June 2015—I had a chance to speak to a variety of brilliant thinkers about where things are headed. Here are some of their predictions.
B-to-B data continues to challenge marketers, who need to identify and communicate with customers and prospects, but who run into thorny issues every day. Problems range from duplicates, to key-entry errors, to missing data elements, and beyond. Recently, Bernice Grossman and I worked with a group of savvy B-to-B marketers at a DMA conference to compile a list of difficult data problems. Here are six that will bring tears to your eyes—but don't worry, we also offer some solutions.
B-to-B marketers are plagued by data problems. Business data is complex and fast-changing. Customers interact with us through a variety of channels, and often provide us with conflicting information. Our legacy databases are not as robust as we need. New tools and technologies emerge and must be evaluated. It's a never-ending battle. To shed some light on B-to-B data problems, Bernice Grossman and I compiled a working list of problems and solutions. Here are some of the thorniest.
Finding new customers is a lot easier these days, what with innovative, digitally based ways to capture and collect data. Early examples of this exciting new trend in prospecting were Jigsaw, a business card swapping tool that allowed salespeople to trade contacts, and ZoomInfo, which scrapes corporate websites for information about businesspeople and merges the information into a vast pool of data for analysis and lead generation campaigns. New ways to find prospects continue to come on the scene—it seems like on the daily.
Some B-to-B marketers know exactly what accounts are in their target market. What a luxury! These marketers can eliminate the old "spray and pray," and focus all their attention and investment in a finite universe of prospects and current customers. It's almost like mass customized selling
I heard an arresting comment at the LeadsCon conference in New York in August. The speaker claimed that inside sales has outstripped outside sales in B-to-B, a statistic that both surprised me and got me thinking. Turns out, the statement was based on a recent study showing that inside sales is growing 7.5 percent, compared to field sales at only 0.5 percent, and that as of 2013, 53 percent of the B-to-B sales rep population sells by phone, instead of face-to-face. It strikes me that this development bears enormous implications for B-to-B marketers.
In our fast-changing marketing world, a smart B-to-B practitioner keeps up to date by learning from thought leaders. While this used to mean reading business books and magazines, today it means blogs. We've all heard the stats about blog proliferation. A new blog launched every six seconds—or whatever. And there is no dearth of blogs on B-to-B marketing. So I would like to share my favorites, the blogs where I find inspiration, new ideas, and provocative stories, to keep the gray matter humming.