4 Important Lessons B2B Marketers Learned in 2013

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ADOTAS – 2013 was an exciting year in the digital marketing world as a whole and in the B2B space in particular. This was the year that automation truly came to the forefront as a vital element of media buying and selling, and it became inarguably clear that big data is here to stay. And, while accurate targeting remains a paramount concern for B2B marketers, in the age of big data, the way we target audiences and drive engagement has begun to shift.

So, as we continue to settle into 2014, what lessons can we as individual marketers and as an industry take from 2013?

1. We’ve only just begun to target. Audience targeting has been around for decades now, so it’s easy for us to look back and be proud of how far we’ve come, but the truth is we still have so much farther to go. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s an opportunity to innovate, to grow the industry and to improve the B2B marketing experience for our customers.

It may be hard to believe, considering that this is the age of big data, but sometimes, we still don’t have enough information to glean actionable insight from all those data points. On average, we actually only see about one percent of any given consumer’s interactions, and that is all we have to leverage when trying to reach them. We know that information is out there; now we just have to figure out how to harness it.

2. CRM programs need love, too. On average, only 10 percent of CRM databases are active at a given time, and CRM dropout rates average 10-20 percent per year. Those databases are vital to not just creating, but nurturing customer relationships, and they are being neglected.

B2B marketing is all about building and maintaining relationships, and CRM programs are valuable for engaging consumers at every stage of their journey, but they must be tended to. Data must be not only acquired but analyzed and acted upon, and in real-time. Which leads us to…

3. We must focus on making data actionable at scale. As we’ve already noted, the data we need to engage our customers throughout their journey is out there, but gathering and putting it to use is easier said than done. In addition to leveraging automation to streamline the aggregation process, we should make the actual analysis of that data more of a priority.

For instance, in our efforts to be timely, sometimes we limit our ability to apply advanced analysis to our data in favor a quicker, but perhaps less targeted or less effective, message. But imagine the insight we could gain given the time and tools to develop scoring models, display programs and other forecasting tools to determine what is perhaps the most important data point: intent. Which brings us to the final lesson…

4. Intent is key. The purpose of engaging customers at every stage of the journey is to both add to our base of knowledge about individual customers and audience segments, and to monitor their progress and use that knowledge to identify what information the client wants as they move toward a buying decision. By reaching out at that exact moment with a targeted, relevant message designed to give them the final push they need to decide on your offering, you can truly realize the potential of big data and boost your revenue.

We’re now firmly entrenched in a period where data is the new currency, and just like you need experts to help you manage your money, the B2B world needs to make data analysis a higher priority, and invest in the talent and technology we need to gather the insight necessary to improve our targeting and engagement efforts.

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