Data-driven Marketing in the Big Data World

B2B marketing today, as they say, is “Not your father’s marketing.” Compared to 10 years back, marketing tools have become exceedingly sophisticated and specialized. Customer relationship management (CRM) is just meat and potatoes. In addition to CRM, organizations deploy marketing automation, email management, content management, social engagement, events management, survey, webinar, and many other tools. The list is extensive. Moreover, there are the communication channels that organizations require, websites, call centers, emails, mobile apps, chat, virtual agents, and social media.

All pieces of the “marketing stack” are generating data, every second.  But marketing brings in even more data to get a better understanding of their customer. Marketing groups subscribe to third-party data sources like Dun and Bradstreet,, Netprospex, and to augment and further enrich B2B account and contacts data. Marketing also requires access to information from internal sources like billing, services, and support to understand customer value, purchase recency and frequency, and satisfaction levels.

Now it looks like we have too much data! How to use this data? How to get better insights about the customer? How to run real data-driven, evidence-based marketing? Sure, let’s put analytics in place. Marketing requires in-depth customer understanding, track effectiveness of campaigns, and measure revenue contributions. Businesses utilize multiple analytic solutions for such insights. Analytics tools range from ones within the CRM application plus web analytics, social listening, funnel tracking, channel effectiveness, content performance, and many others.

Multiple sources of data, duplicate and inconsistent information across sources, and various analytics tools running on incomplete, disconnected customer data is not the best case scenario. This environment leads to poor segmentation, ineffective marketing campaigns, inconsistent and irrelevant messages to customers and ultimately poor customer experience. 
Here are five steps for B2B marketers can take to improve marketing impact and get relevant, actionable insights from their data.

1.    Create reliable data foundation
Use modern data management solution to blend data from all internal, third-party, and external sources at a big data scale. Modern data management provide tools to match, merge, de-duplicate and clean data and creates a reliable foundation of single-source-of-truth about all B2B accounts and customers. Now you have all customer information in a single data-driven application and leverage it for accurate segmentation, campaign design or to run any predictive analytics models like customer value or churn propensity. Unified customer information also facilitates consistency of messages across all the channels, improves channel effectiveness and lowers the channel operating costs.

2.    Collaboratively curate data
Data clean-up is not a one-time job. It is an ongoing undertaking and requires collaboration from all operational and customer-facing teams. Data-driven marketing applications offer data change request workflows as well as ad hoc collaboration features so that any user of the application can flag suspected bad data for review and updates. If a salesperson in the field find that address has changed, she can start a discussion thread and get the data corrected.

3.    Visualize relationships
 This aspect is quite important, especially in account-based marketing for B2B. Marketers must know the organization structure of the account, the key influencers, locations, and products of interest. Data-driven applications leverage graph technology to uncover relationships between all entities like contacts, accounts, products, and places. With this information, marketers can design very specific campaigns and offers for the accounts.

4.    Bring relevant insights within marketing applications
Relevant insights, delivered in the context of role and objective is essential for marketing success. Running analytics on incomplete data, disconnected from operational applications, only provides macro-level insights. For actionable insights, first, establish a reliable data foundation and further, incorporate findings within the marketing application, in the context of the role. Modern data management provides capabilities for near-real-time analytics and also recommends next best actions using predictive analytics and machine learning. You can determine trends in customer preferences, the relative contribution of marketing programs, business value of an account, and influence of a contact. Armed with this information, marketers can provide relevant information and offers to the customer, using the right channel of engagement, at the right time, delivering superior customer experience.

5.    Close the loop
Date-driven closed-loop marketing is the “Nirvana” that every marketer aspires to reach. Here all relevant insights and recommended actions are collected and processed for continuous closed loop feedback into systems for improvements in campaign performance and customer experience. The insights are used to make customer profiles better and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing operations.

These steps will guide B2B marketers towards better customer understanding. Blending data from all sources, cleansing and curating it and discovering ever so important relationships and hierarchies will provide complete customer understanding. Finally, bringing all relevant insights within operational applications will make an immediate business impact and close the loop, demonstrating marketing contribution.