The past year has shown many marketers how important it is to be agile and able to quickly pivot, as the top dog can quickly become the underdog. A recent McKinsey article highlights how increasingly, many traditional B2B suppliers and distributors are facing fierce competition from new start-ups, who are leveraging their agility and digital prowess to outpace them in growth. In the hustle to compete with new entrants, established B2Bs can feel “paralyzed by digitization.” But often they have a blind spot for their biggest asset: their data.
Despite access to a large customer database and the on-hand resources, many established B2B businesses are floundering when it comes to actually using their customer data. In a survey noted in the article, 86% of respondents believed they could do much better with data, with only 25% saying they use data weekly to understand customer needs and 9% admitting they never use data at all. In the article, McKinsey outlines three key areas B2B companies need to focus on to successfully leverage their data: the right idea, the right assets and the right attitude. Here are my takeaways and five practical growth hacks to leverage the B2B data you already have:
- Focus on the Big Data Picture
Established B2B companies have a leg up on new competition since they have the frameworks already in place: extensive prospect/customer data and, in most cases, staffing resources. From customer records, purchase history, and service/product trends, McKinsey notes that this data “can be a massive source of value across many vectors, from speeding innovation, launching new businesses, exploiting price opportunities, reducing run costs, and unlocking granular pockets of opportunity.”
But collecting and making that data usable can be challenging due to the data siloes that often occur in larger organizations. Efforts to leverage data will fail if other departments, such as sales, shipping/fulfillment and customer support, work independently without communicating or sharing their data. Instead, businesses need to prioritize internal alignment of their organization so everyone is on the same page and ready to work together across departments.
- Overcome System Integration Hurdles
As businesses work to align their organization, it’s important to address the literal data roadblocks too. In addition to maintaining existing data, B2B companies are constantly collecting more data, which has to be captured, integrated and added to existing systems that don’t always work well together. Today, however, there are many supporting systems and martech tools that can work together to automatically share data so marketers have access to all of the relevant data in one place.
- Identify Trigger Opportunities
Customers today have come to expect a consistent, personalized experience when interacting with brands – including B2B brands. Large organizations have the data to make this possible, if the various technologies are integrated and opportunities to act on it are identified. This might include, for example, sending a follow-up email to a customer after a purchase asking for their feedback or review, or perhaps recommending a related product or service that builds on the value of the originally purchased item. Automating this process minimizes human error and enables a consistent user experience across multiple platforms. It opens opportunities to continue strengthening the relationship after the purchase or move a relationship through the pipeline based on the prospect’s action.
- Limit Bad Data at All Costs
Studies have shown that B2B data regularly decays at a rate of up to 70% per year. From new email addresses to new jobs, even good data becomes outdated. If you haven’t been regularly maintaining it, your database may not be as accurate as you think it is. The data you have is still a huge asset, but it may need some work. Using bad data can be costly and comes with significant risks of landing on spam blacklists. My recommendation is to turn to outside resources for support and expertise. A database cleansing service can automate the process of removing, correcting and replacing inaccurate data.
- Boost Your Data with Third-Party Data
Large, established companies have the breadth of data to gain a competitive advantage over new entrants. But for an even more powerful approach and greater depth of insight, established B2B companies can combine their own internal data with external data provided by a reputable third party. Third-party data can better ensure your customer profiles are current and up-to-date, as well as fill in missing pieces such as matching personal contact data to the business data. This is especially helpful now as many prospects are working remotely, often from home on personal devices, and researching purchases more independently. The combination of fresh, high-quality data with first-party data that’s been cleansed for accuracy can yield powerful results.
The bottom line is that if managing or leveraging customer data is a challenge – and you’re feeling outpaced by startups – you’re certainly not alone. Knowing how to best leverage data can empower you to connect with new buyers and win more business. But it takes time along with an investment and commitment to do it right. As the McKinsey article pointed out, “opportunities to transform the business with data exist all along the value chain.” The important thing is to take action and make the changes that will enable you to reach your business goals.
As always, let us know if we can support you in your data strategies.
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate B2B data can enable you to achieve better digital marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Check us out on LiveRamp!