By Michael Stefanick
B2B marketing is in the midst of a transformation to more sophisticated campaigns with new approaches to demand generation that have similar traits to B2C-type campaigns.
Technology advances in marketing analytics have enabled a much more personalized approach to B2B marketing, with targeted messages based on the specific characteristics of individuals, where they stand in the purchase cycle and their current financial status. This is a positive development given that success in today’s B2B market requires a smarter analysis process that can effectively utilize a broader set of data points, incorporating the most recent business ratings, business reviews, consumer product data and social media data into the planning process.
Utilized correctly, advanced analytics can help uncover the traits that define the most profitable customers, identify new business opportunities based on wallet share and risk analysis, offer real-time insights to make faster, smarter campaign decisions and deliver better targeted leads to the sales organization. Analytics also can more accurately assess the impact of strategy and campaign execution.
Recent surveys support this view. Consider:
- 52% of marketers say advanced analytics are helping them mine Big Data for new business leads and customer insights. (CMO Council/SAS)
- Companies that use advanced analytics tools enjoy 8% higher win rates (CSO Insights)
- Advanced analytics allow 46% of marketers to create more useful and relevant customer profiles (CMO Council/SAS)
- Marketing analytics tools pay back $10.66 in returns for every dollar invested (Nucleus Research)
- Advanced analytics deliver efficiency gains of 30% or more by supporting targeted campaigns and higher conversion rates (Marketing Sherpa)
With this in mind, here are four key steps for better utilizing analytics to improve B2B marketing efforts.
- Build and maintain a single source of consolidated, cleansed and enriched customer information that is shared by marketing and sales.
- Identify the best market segments for your product or service, including ideal customer profiles.
- Locate prospects that match your ideal customer profiles, searching within new geographies and industries as appropriate.
- After confirming that target prospects meet business criteria, identify the highest-ROI opportunities in your prospect set.
Collect and Consolidate Customer Information
Customer information is often maintained separately by multiple lines of business within a company or in functional areas such as sales, operations and finance. To fully achieve the benefits of today’s marketing analytics, marketers need to set up an ongoing, internal data collection process that can rationalize all of these disparate data sources into a consistent and current record of consolidated, cleansed and enriched business data.
For companies that have both consumer-facing and B2B lines of business, there should be some indication when a company provides service to a business owner as an individual, as well as to that person’s business.
The goal is to build a current, verified storehouse of customer and prospect information that can be seen in a single, comprehensive customer view. Having on-demand, real-time business intelligence will enable B2B marketers to quickly engage with prospects, spot new opportunities and fine-tune campaigns to connect with the right people at the right time with a relevant solution.
Segment the Market
Once you build a comprehensive repository of customer information, conduct a marketing-focused analysis of that data to gain a better understanding of your company’s current sources of revenue and profits, as well as emerging sources of risk. The output of the analysis can serve as a strategic marketing plan that identifies the most and least profitable market segments.
In addition, establish profiles of ideal clients for each target market segment in terms of firmographics and other attributes like ability to pay and the acceptable level of financial risk that your company is willing to accept. Intelligent customer profiling will give you a better picture of which marketing campaign elements are most likely to have impact.
Identify New Prospects
A critical next step in generating growth is to identify likely prospects outside your known customer base. Analytics can help to analyze and better understand your company’s market presence and share of spend within complementary industries and geographies.
With this knowledge, you can identify the best areas for market entry, expanded sales territories and new business opportunities within existing territories. And as you form new customer relationships, advanced analytics will enable you to capture relevant details about opportunities and interactions within a single database that both sales and marketing teams can use to their advantage.
Identify the Highest-ROI Opportunities
Once you have a better understanding of your current and potential customer base, use predictive risk filters and data-driven intelligence to model expected responses to marketing campaigns, as measured by propensity to buy, attrition and financial distress. Also, utilize available market penetration analysis tools to evaluate your customer count against industry, geography, or company-size market segments. Doing so will help optimize marketing spending and focus sales efforts toward business opportunities with the highest potential ROI.
Employing advanced analytics and following these steps can demonstrably improve marketers’ ability to make smarter decisions, lessen risk and generate higher topline revenue contributions.
Michael Stefanick is the senior vice president of commercial analytical services for Equifax.