Learn the five traits that data savvy marketers use to drive much shorter sales cycles, lower sales costs and higher market share.
It turns out that there’s a new paradox in B2B marketing today that demands higher levels of buyer relevance and customer intimacy.
As B2B marketers – we’re aware of this shift – and aware that buyers are pushing sales out of the early stages in the buying cycle; they demand customized solutions based on their unique business needs.
At ITSMA’s 2011 Marketing Leadership Forum, Julie Schwartz, Senior VP of Research and Thought Leadership at ITSMA, provided useful insights to address this shift in her session: Data Driven Marketing: Five Traits for Success.
Schwartz’s business case for making data a core priority within marketing is sound; at the Leadership Forum she shared this choice data point, “data savvy marketers report SIGNIFICANTLY shorter sales cycles, lower sales costs and greater improvement in market share.” This claim was based on an extensive survey conducted by the ITSMA (IT Services Marketing Association) in 2011.
So, what are these data savvy marketers at B2B organizations doing? Below, I’ve shared Schwartz’s five, top-line recommendations for success. Below each, I’ve added my own insights and recommendations.
1. Define a marketing technology strategy and game-plan
- Planning is a key to success: Develop and keep an updated technology road map – inclusive of people, processes and technology
- Work toward a centralized database
- Invest in technology, training and administration
From my experience, this is a smart “foundation” for organizations. However, it’s often hard for the marketing technologist within the organization to own and drive this initiative. Many of the companies we work with at Babcock & Jenkins, are required to skip to item #2 (see below) and often work with data savvy agencies or consultants to support their needs. (If you need recommendations on this front, I’d be happy to point you in the right direction).
2. Get data in order
- Identify data sources and gain cooperation of functions/geographies that oversee it
- Establish procedures for collecting, sharing, updating and using marketing data
- Document policies and procedures
- Move toward enterprise management of marketing data
It’s best to start this step with a core set of marketing contacts with names, email and mailing addresses (ideally from your most recent/robust data source). You can always work toward cleaning and augmenting data as a next step—but don’t be afraid to start with your “best shot.” Often we see companies try to boil the ocean. An iterative process can be the best approach.
3. Dedicated resources
- Designate or hire a marketing technologist (Nothing leads to failure faster than lack of ownership and accountability.)
- Build a dedicated analytics group
- Build skill levels of ALL marketing staff
As I noted in #1, this responsibility may be outsourced as starting point (or as a long-term solution) if dedicated resources can’t be committed internally.
4. Report business metrics
- Define a set of marketing impact metrics: this will help to justify marketing budget and support the optimization of marketing programs
- More importantly, define business impact metrics – as this drives the growth of the business. A “starter set” of metrics include:
- Sales pipeline contribution (# of leads or sales accepted leads)
- Pipeline velocity (time to revenue “TTR”)
- Business closed (revenue)
- Measures of loyalty, retention and growth (measured via NetPromoter or other measurement approaches)
While the business metrics are the most important long-term metrics, often it’s important to take baby steps toward measurement. For instance, set benchmarks (then measure lift) on a great content asset distributed to your list via email. Don’t be afraid to start small and expand!
5. Reach Out
- Discover organizational uses of marketing data
- Tailor reports to meet needs
- Publicize your efforts
Following these five traits of savvy database marketers is NOT an easy undertaking, and doesn’t happen with a singular stakeholder. Who will be most successful? Those who gain buy-in and support across the organization. Get the CIO or IT executives to support you from a technology perspective, and identify other key stakeholders outside of marketing that can take ownership in this approach. Do whatever it takes—this is important!