Why Do B2B Marketers Struggle to Use Marketing Data to Drive Demand?
As part of Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series—a collection of articles written by industry thought leaders in maturing software categories—Gregg Ames, the Chief Commercial Officer at Act-On Software, shares some expert insights on how B2B marketers can improve how they use data in their marketing strategies.
A popular adage in the business world is, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” In other words, if you want to improve or focus on a particular area of your business, you need to find ways to quantify your progress (or lack thereof). Without numbers behind your efforts, it becomes harder to set goals, meet those goals, and demonstrate your success to key stakeholders.
Today’s marketers certainly know this to be accurate; data drives almost everything they do. They use data to learn more about their customers’ preferences and, in turn, generate personalized content that resonates with their audience. However, according to a recent survey facilitated by Ascend2, there’s room for improvement in marketing data. Let’s dive into the state of marketing data in 2022 and identify some critical strategies for improving B2B marketers’ relationships with data.
Marketing data is as good as gold – when it’s good.
Today’s B2B marketers primarily rely on behavioral data, or the aggregation of users’ behavior on a brand’s website—think page visits, clicks, contact submissions, e-commerce purchases, or newsletter signups. When marketers capture this data (also referred to as first-party cookies), they can learn a great deal about their audience, generate personalized content, and convert prospective customers into sales leads.
Historically, marketers have leveraged third-party cookies or behavioral data captured on other companies’ websites. But in the name of enhanced consumer privacy, leading tech companies have announced a forthcoming ban on third-party data, so marketers have pivoted accordingly and are now solely using data collected on their sites. This pivot has catalyzed an overhaul of data capture across marketing departments worldwide. While undeniably challenging, this industry shift benefits internet consumers and marketers who stand only to gain from re-examining how they capture and leverage their data.
If the previous survey results are any indication, it seems like marketers have ample opportunities to improve their practices around data capture. A whopping two-thirds of survey respondents reported not having adequate data to make decisions. Similarly, about two-thirds of respondents said that even though they had access to data, they weren’t confident in that data quality. To be sure, marketers are doomed without data, but having poor quality data is just as devastating.
Without high-quality or “clean” data, marketers could issue messaging entirely irrelevant for their target audience. Not only do customers find impertinent communications to be annoying, but it could be enough to turn them off from the brand entirely. The more marketers can learn about their audience’s behavior, the better they can generate content and recommendations that resonate with their preferences. As we transition to a first-party-only cookie environment, it will be crucial for marketing departments to access plentiful, top-quality data.
Tips to improve your relationship with marketing data
Luckily, the upcoming ban on third-party data (and Apple’s overhaul of email anonymity) gives us a silver lining of clear direction about how to get started: all marketing data must be generated by your website. Study each page and think about making it welcoming, informative, and delightful for any user. Identify confusing navigation or redundancies, and insert clear calls-to-action or contact signups. Be sure to use tracking pixels to kickstart the behavioral data collection once your website is healthy, research marketing automation platforms that can bear the brunt of the data capture itself.
There are many marketing automation solutions today, but one must-have feature is the ability to integrate with your company’s CRM. These integrations ensure that all the data points captured from your website will feed into a centralized place where all contacts are organized and updated. Not only does this integration make marketers’ jobs more manageable, but it’s hugely helpful for your sales team as well, since they’ll use the compiled data in their outreach, too.
As marketers begin researching potential automation platforms, they should consult closely with their sales counterparts to ensure everyone is aligned on strategy, goals, and priorities. With a data-driven, integrated approach between sales and marketing teams, you can ensure you’re making the most of powerful shared tools like automation platforms and CRMs. When all your customer behavioral data lives in one single “source of truth” (your CRM), you’ll have a much easier time learning about your customers and sending them personalized, relevant content that sparks sales leads.
Lastly, marketers who are getting their feet wet on behavioral data shouldn’t be afraid to continuously adjust how they capture and leverage the data. It may be tempting to fall into a “set it and forget it” pattern (especially if you’ve been frustrated about your data in the past). Still, by paying close attention and using trial-and-error, you can ensure you’re getting the robust, high-quality data you need to engage with your audience correctly. With an optimized website, a powerful marketing automation platform, and some thoughtful course-correction, you can be well on your way towards a healthier relationship with marketing data.
In today’s digital landscape, B2B marketers are only as good as their data. If a team can’t rely on data captured from third parties, marketers must take their fate into their own hands and manage data processes internally. Quality and quantity of data are essential; it’s not an either-or scenario. By taking a thoughtful, strategic approach, marketers can make lemonade out of lackluster data capabilities and transform how they do business.