Getting on with data in 2014
Chief Marketing Officers in B2B organisations are under the spotlight like never before. There is increasing pressure to make a tangible impact on the bottom-line by delivering a robust sales pipeline that translates into closed revenue.
Data clearly has an important part to play here, both in generating leads and quantifying progress through the funnel. Improving data quality and management across the entire business empowers marketing and enables it to join-up more effectively with sales.
However, there is industry-wide acknowledgement – as evidenced in B2B Marketing’s Leaders Report – that many organisations are impeded by data and analytics skills gaps.
Take action to improve performance
Decisive action needs to be taken to bridge such gaps by encouraging training in these areas or bringing in subject matter experts. If the gaps are allowed to widen, lack of control and understanding will inevitably lead to plummeting marketing ROI, potentially leading to a vicious cycle of declining budgets. During 2014, investing in ways to generate then harness more meaningful data will be a high priority for forward-thinking CMOs who understand what is at stake.
Set data targets
Having clear objectives is vital. They might include sophisticated persona-led segmentation and individual-level nurturing or improved understanding of the roles different touch-points play in buyer journeys. Understanding a prospect’s propensity to purchase can be accelerated by the use of advanced analytical techniques drawing on new insight gathered via multiple sources, including social media. It’s about finding intelligent ways to manipulate the data that’s available with specific aims in mind. When managed skilfully, this process can also provide ongoing ‘engagement indicators’ as a lead progresses through the funnel.
Ignore Big Data hysteria: just get on with it
Whatever your views are on the Big Data hype of recent years, the reality is that there is more information on businesses and professionals available than ever before. B2B marketers need to accept that data is just data, however much of it you have. The crux of the issue is what you do with it. And the good news is that gathering data, dealing with data and interpreting data has not changed. Businesses just need to focus their efforts to ensure they drill down and leverage data effectively to deliver benefits.
I believe 2014 will be characterised by meaningful data and the many advantages it can bring when positioned at the heart of an organisation’s wider strategy, not just the marketing strategy. If so, we could see a surge in B2B players genuinely communicating with decision makers as individuals across the whole organisation. Wouldn’t that be something to celebrate?