Data – whether big or small – is the hottest topic in business today.
You know you should be using it, but often you’re just not sure how or really why?
For the next few columns, we’ll look into what a business-to-business (B2B) data-driven marketing approach can do for you and your business.
Let’s begin with the marketing database, the recorded memory of your relationship with your customers. It tells you not only what they bought, but when and how. It helps you stay in touch with them as you both grow. And it helps you reconnect with customers when they have strayed.
Marketing databases should be your view of your marketplace through your customers. It should help you:
- Capture information about your customers behavior from all sales, communications channels, partners and even social media
- Model and predict customer behavior
- Perform “what-if” analyses to stimulate marketing ideas and actions
- Profile customers to gain insight into their needs and how your product or service helps
- Address customers in groups or segments to position your products better
- Identify prospects and nurture them until they are ready to buy
- Select customers and prospects for specific promotional offers
- Measure performance of your marketing dollars
- Sustain customer relationships and develop evangelists for your business
- Calculate the value of each of your customers
B2B marketing is somewhat different from consumer marketing and the marketing database in this environment has particular relevance for several reasons:
1. Buying process is more complex than the consumer process.
It’s rare in a business to business sale that you find one person who makes the decisions for a company. The buying process usually requires multiple people who recommend, evaluate and actually make the decision.
2. Selling to businesses is a process supported by an extraordinary number of internal and external functions.
This means not only sales and marketing people, but also external partners like distributors, resellers, and manufacturers’ reps, not to mention sales engineering, customer service, R&D, and finance.
3. Business buying cycles are longer than consumer.
The marketing database supports and tracks the multiple marketing touches that keep the process moving toward the close, and supports the customer relationship that will continue to develop over time.
4. Account value and order sizes are usually larger so when data is missing or inaccurate, the financial consequences can be heavy.
Because of these situations, the marketing database serves the purpose of analytical glue, holding together all these moving parts to ensure that your business goals are met and that you maintain a close relationship with your customers.
Next page: 5 points on data in your marketing database
About the author
Theresa Kushner is a journalist-turned-marketer and Vice President of Enterprise Information Management at VMware. She is responsible for master data management, business intelligence and advanced analytics. She and Maria Villar co-write a column for LatinBusinessToday.com. They are co-authors of Managing Your Business Data: From Chaos to Confidence, published by Racom Books in 2008.