How Tearing Down Data Silos Can Unlock Your Data’s True Value
Today’s B2B buyers expect fast, consistent, and personalized experiences. At the same time, their buying journey is nonlinear and inclusive of many different stakeholders along the way. To manage the complexity of serving the modern B2B buyer, marketers and sellers are relying on customer data and analytics to guide their strategies. As B2B organizations set their marketing and sales priorities for the next 12 months, increasing their use of data and analytics is at the top of their list.
Customer Data Should Guide B2B Marketing Strategy
Taking actions from customer data and insights to improve marketing and sales outcomes is a complex undertaking. B2B marketing and sales leaders must fight through that complexity, along with their internal and external partners. To remain competitive, they must take iterative, effective steps to implement the technology, processes, and best practices for taking customer-facing actions from sales and marketing data. The bar is that high. However, while there is no shortage of data or attention to this matter, marketing and sales decisions are still just as likely to be made on gut feeling as on data and campaign analysis.
Data Activation Defined
Data activation is the process of unlocking value from customer data through the development of insights that inform specific sales and marketing actions. Being able to effectively activate data means taking all the information that resides across various systems like CRMs, DMPs and other disparate database platforms and aggregating the data to help guide a single-focused, unified sales and marketing strategy. Without a proper data activation process in place, otherwise valuable data often goes unused and becomes worthless over time.
Earlier this year, Dun and Bradstreet commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate data activation practices across the B2B space. In surveying 500 B2B professionals about their data strategy and management, the study found that while all firms face significant challenges in converting their B2B customer data into actionable insight, a portion of respondents who are using more mature data practices are seeing significant impact across marketing, sales, and customer goals.
B2B Firms Struggle to Activate Data
- Only half of marketing and sales decisions are based on data. Variation in data quality and consistency overall and across departments are common problems that erode trust and make decision makers gun-shy about using their customer data over their own intuition.
- B2B marketers and sellers lack complete and accurate data. They need data that is consistent across activities and technologies and that they can convert to insights quickly to meet customer needs. However, data gaps are a problem, as a US VP in financial services highlighted, “We don’t have enough data to fully make decisions.”
- B2B customers expect more than ever. Meeting customers’ rising expectations is harder than ever. B2B marketers and sellers must use data to deliver rapid fulfillment and to provide greater product and service knowledge in the right ways and at the right times.
- Poor data management stands in the way of firms’ achievement of marketing and sales objectives. Data management challenges cause a ripple effect that blocks achievement of marketing and sales objectives: Firms fail to improve their abilities to develop actionable insights, create and implement one-on-one targeted engagement strategies, and provide personalized experiences across channels.
- Lack of executive sponsorship and mature data analytics capabilities hold firms back. Support from the top is critical, and only half of firms reported that their company’s top executives view data and analytics as a strategic capability and primary area of focus.
- Firms need customer data they can trust. Only 49% of B2B marketers and sellers said their organization was effective at providing customer data they can fully trust to be complete and accurate.
It’s clear that to effectively serve the evolving and increasingly digital-first needs of the B2B buyer, marketers and sellers need actionable insights that can only be fostered through a strategic data activation approach.
Four Key Actions for Data Activation Success
- Engaging partners for data and analytics services
- Organizing with an insights center of excellence
- Embracing advanced analytics
- Establishing and using systems of insight
Check out the infographic to explore some of the common challenges we uncovered in the study that must be overcome for B2B organizations to unlock data’s true value.