B2B Marketers Are Not Relying Enough on Data and That's a Problem

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According to The B2B Data Activation Priority—a recently released study conducted by Forrester Consulting for Dun & Bradstreet—only 52% of B2B marketers base decisions on data rather than on personal intuition and experience. Much of this stems from a lack of confidence in and access to the data they might have, because only 49% have data that they fully trust to be complete and accurate.

And just 48% are effective at using customer data to activate marketing and sales initiatives at scale. As much as intuition and experience need to be part of the mix, the world is becoming flush with data—big and small—and it must be leveraged for success.

Here are other highlights from the study,some of which theyqualify bydata leaders vs. data laggards:

1. 75% of leaders measure lifetime value, compared with 45% of the laggards. And 77% of leaders surveyed use active data for "accurately identifying and attributing campaign success." Additionally, just 44% of laggards are skilled at personalizing the customer experience, compared with 79% of the leaders.

2. Use data to meet rising customer expectations.Almost 50%of firms said that improving customer experience is their top business priority in the next year. "Expectations are changing in the B2B buying process and sales and marketing teams need to adapt," said Derek Slayton, GM of the sales and marketing business at Dun & Bradstreet. "B2B customers are looking to have more consumer-like experiences and take more control of their buying processes."

3. Leaders are more likely to measure the sales conversion rate, return on marketing spend and average deal size. Being siloed is a problem here. Forrester noted that "siloed insights teams typically over-focus on low-value customer behavior measurements such as site visits or email opens that without context, don't provide sum client insight for building true customer connection."

4. Three key actions for data activation success are:

  • Engage external partners for data and analytics services.
  • Embrace advanced analytics.
  • Organize with an insights center of excellence.

5. Artificial intelligence is underused. Only 51% of leaders employ artificial intelligence (AI) for marketing and sales, compared to 18% of the laggards.

6. To date, only 53% or less have adapted data-driven success factors like establishing systems of insight and expanding their abilities to source quality external data reliably.

7. Obstacles toovercome include: managing data and insight sharing across business areas; defining shared metrics to measure success; personalizing experience across channels (web, mobile, offline); and taking actions quickly from data and insights.

8. Advocate data and analytics as a critical capability at an executive level. Effective data activation requires strong collaboration driven by evangelism from company leaders.

9. "Align on metrics and KPIs across data, insights, and business teams. It may seem unintuitive that a process change is as important as data and technology decisions in maturing your data activation maturity. But it's true."

10. "Find trusted partners for both data and analytics services whose capabilities complement yours...Find partners that understand your strategies and are willing to not only "do" for your firm but teach you, too."

It all may feel a little dramatic, but when it comes to data, alarms do have to be sounded. You can download the report here.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…