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
Ruth P. Stevens
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.
Despite the attention given to large enterprise marketing, it's small and medium businesses (SMB) where the bulk of marketing investments go. SMB is where there's enough volume to do plenty of testing. Plus, you've got a tighter decision-making unit and shorter sales cycles. And you've got a lot of company
I thought it was widely understood by now that staying in touch with a prospect who has shown some interest in your product or service can triple, even quadruple, lead-to-sales conversion rates. But a new study from Bizo and Oracle Marketing Cloud suggests that business marketers are still struggling to get the most value from lead nurturing programs. Disappointing, since the value of lead nurturing was clearly demonstrated years ago...
I heard a horror story the other day—a consumer packaged goods executive ranting about a meeting with a vendor. "I gave the guy an appointment, and he spent the whole time presenting his product," she said. "Never asked me a thing about my situation, and what I needed." Another exec chimed in, "Yeah, when I hear about an interesting new solution, what I need most is to sell it internally. I'm not getting the help I need from the vendors these days." I am cringing. What is going wrong here?
Are you happy with the quality of the information in your marketing database? Probably not. A new report from NetProspex confirms: 64 percent of company records in the database of a typical B-to-B marketer have no phone number attached. Pretty much eliminates phone as a reliable communications medium, doesn't it? And 88 percent are missing basic firmographic data
How do you set a budget for a multi-touch, multi-target B-to-B digital campaign like the one Michelle was describing? The short answer is: Spend as much as delivers your threshold level of ROI. But, in B-to-B, it's not so simple. Large enterprise sales cycles are long, as much as 18 to 24 months, so sales results won't be available until long after she needs to make campaign decisions
One key to successful B-to-B lead generation programs is to calculate exactly the right number of qualified leads to provide to sales—as part of your campaign planning. If you generate too many leads, you'll be wasting precious marketing dollars. If you generate too few, your firm may be at risk of missing its revenue targets, with potentially disastrous financial implications. Moreover, you'll annoy your sales team by not supporting them properly. So, let's look at a neat way to figure out in advance how many leads your company needs, so you can invest accordingly.
Are you hounded by email pitches offering access to all kinds of prospective business targets? I am, and I hate it. As a B-to-B marketer, I am always interested in new customer data sources, so I feel compelled to at least give them a listen. So, over time, I have come up with a nine-point assessment strategy to help marketers determine the likely legitimacy of a potential vendor, using approaches that can be replicated by anyone, at arm's length.
Too often these days, I hear B-to-B marketers mouth claims like, "We got this new [fill in the brand] automation tool, so now we can reduce headcount." Or, "Once this automation system is installed, it will take our marketing to the next level." This worries me. Marketers sometimes see automation as a silver bullet. But it's only a tool
The most reliable and scalable approach to finding new B-to-B customers is outbound communications, whether by mail, phone or email, to potential prospects, using rented or purchased lists. B-to-B marketers typically select targets from prospecting lists based on such traditional variables as industry, company size and job role, or title. But new research indicates that B-to-B prospecting data is much more detailed these days, and includes a plethora of variables to choose from
I recently got my hands on a copy of Joe Pulizzi's new book, Epic Content Marketing, and I can't say enough good things about it. Pulizzi has figured out how marketers can apply publishing techniques to marketing objectives, and, along with a couple of other leaders in the category, like Ann Handley and Joe Chernov, has articulated an entirely new type of marketing. One that really works, especially in B-to-B