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B2B is still unprepared for the data age

Some B2B marketers are dinosaurs about to be wiped out by the impact of the data asteroid, argues Andrew Dalglish, director at Circle Research

They say that an asteroid impact wiped dinosaurs off the face of the earth. Could data be the B2B marketer’s asteroid?

At a basic level, data can reveal the effectiveness of marketing investments and demonstrate ROI. What was the click-through rate? How many leads were generated? Which executions generated the most engagement? But this ‘what happened?’ data is just scratching the surface. 

Data can be used not just to observe what happened, but to shape what happens. With the right approach to data capture and analysis, insights with the potential to turbo-charge marketing activity can be brought to the surface. Data mining can reveal hidden opportunities, predictive analytics can put you one step ahead, micro-segmentation can personalise your marketing, and so on.

While the fundamentals of good marketing may remain timeless, the data age is transforming how these principles are applied. That requires a new skill-set and it seems as though, as a profession, we have a lot of evolving to do.

The soon-to-be published B2B Marketing Data Skills Benchmarking Report reveals that virtually all marketers see the asteroid coming – 89 per cent of those B2B marketers surveyed for the report acknowledge that data is very important to the marketing function. However, only a handful are prepared for the new world the data asteroid’s impact will bring. Many revealed a lack of confidence in their company’s use of data, as well as concerns about their team’s data skills, with only a small percentage describing them as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. A considerable number also reported that their use of data was ineffective. 

These statistics ring an alarm bell. As the data age takes hold in B2B it will become essential for marketers to have strong data skills. Without them, it will be hard to compete in a world where data has become a critical component of day-to-day marketing practice. Perhaps it’s time to evolve; history has taught us what happens to those who do not.