Today, the most acute challenge is linking tailored messages to optimal contact timing. It’s a multi-layered, complex and difficult-to-get-right problem. Since it’s no longer sufficient for us to be smart with data-driven marketing insights and channels, we must also be timely, or, in some circumstances, even immediate.
While the data promises only to get more voluminous, technological advances have made collecting it suitably workable. Still, as an overwhelming amount of collected data goes unused—highly valuable, spot-on timely information is left unharnessed. Some respectable estimates indicate that as little as 10% of collected data is suitably structured to be used by digital marketers.
Data’s optimal usefulness, while not yet ‘now-or-never’, is traveling rapidly in that direction. While the value of much of the data we rely on today has a critical life value of hours, in short order it will be a matter of minutes. The steadily evolving equation is to make sense of volumes of data generated and quickly act on what it reveals.
It’s not too much to say that all of us should start dealing in real-time insights to redefine success as being the most skilled rather than the cleverest. ‘If not right now, then when,’ should be our motto starting today.
If you think that’s neat, clean and simple, you must look more closely. It’s not.
Crossing the threshold to progressive B2B digital marketing is a process. To help us get there, these are the five messages we’ve got on our whiteboard:
- Remember your foundation.
Data insights and processes have become relatively easy to implement today. For example, closed-loop reporting offers insights and the ability to continuously improve ongoing campaigns through nearly any suite of tools.
This visibility into trends enables instant right turns—the ability to address immediate communication or technical issues, and to drive mission critical actions to meet ideal targets/timelines. Keeping in mind that it’s often possible to lose focus on continuous review of this valuable information, never allow yourself to lose track of what’s at the core of marketing delivery.
- Build a strong ground game.
Right now, targeting, customization, and personalization are white-hot topics for us marketers. Good groundwork is needed in advance to make data-driven marketing effective. Without the background and skill in marketing practices, the customer response can be tepid, bland and ineffective. To create an effective campaign requires that a sophisticated data driven performance skill set be applied upfront.
It should be mentioned, and not just in passing, that using personal data must never be intrusive. Simply because it’s available doesn’t mean it should be used. Similarly, consent from a customer to use some of their credentials doesn’t mean it’s a blanket approval. Using data in this regard requires a large measure of judicious thinking.
- Strategy always leads analysis.
The rule here is straight forward: Allow your B2B digital marketing strategy to dictate your data-driven approach rather than the other way around. Findings from data should always inform strategy but not steer the ship.
Keep in mind that as digital tracking becomes more pervasive, there are differing legal implications in each country. It’s absolutely critical to have an internal code of conduct for these issues. In other words, only if the legal use is fully considered is it a good strategy.
- A few key indicators are plenty.
It’s easy to become too reliant on data or to get mired in an analysis-focused process. It’s important to create checks and balances internally to keep things moving, such as two- to three key performance indicators on a dashboard. But measurement metrics should be inclusive. Teams with special interests and needs to address customers, such as product, customer service and operations, can’t be bypassed or overlooked.
Our team has frequently built tools to provide insights for internal or external use. Often we’d invest in scorecard/dashboard/or other insight procedures. Over time, we learned that this type of metric was only as good as the consistency of the organization to continue to focus on those measures. Because the value of data often shows itself over time, it’s a long play to gain benefits from the foundational work.
- Add business value.
The true bottom line is that any great idea or change has to be justified with a business case. Otherwise it’s nothing more than the hope of growth.
Our guideline is that often the best processes tend to be done manually over a long period of time and repeated often. Internal requests to increase use or function of a process or tool are a good indication that it’s worth investing in something a bit more robust. Rarely should a data process should be automated without adding business value as the first consideration.
Of course, your whiteboard might read differently than ours but in spirit the underlying principles should be similar. Let’s remember the goal is to use data to drive high value, timely marketing outcomes. That takes not just smarts but a well-tuned set of skills as well.