by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter
Thanks to continual improvements in technology, database marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions are of growing interest to business marketers. There are cloud solutions for the contact database, B2B marketers are beginning to take cues from their consumer marketing colleagues (and doing behavioral analysis on customer data) and data hygiene remains an area of concern and interest.
A typical MarketingSherpa article covers real-world marketing issues addressed and solved by your peers. In today’s article, we took a slightly different approach to address what our audience has told us is a topic of growing interest.
To provide you with a vendor agnostic outlook, we spoke with three industry thought leaders and database marketing vendors about how to manage that valuable yet unwieldy asset -- data -- and what topics they thought B2B marketers should be paying attention to in 2011:
o Bernice Grossman, President DMRS Group Inc., is a New York City-based marketing database expert with almost 30 years of experience as an independent consultant to both B2C and B2B marketers.
o Scott Holden, Senior Director, Product Marketing, salesforce.com, has a background including new business development at Google, logistics for Walmart and technology M&A for JPMorgan H&Q.
o Our third expert was Ian Rowley, Business Development Manager, Parker Software Ltd., a UK-based marketing software company.
How important is data to B2B marketers? Grossman said, "Number one, what's happening is that B2B marketers are finally coming to grips with the fact that the most important piece of what they own is their data. It could easily be an asset line on their balance sheet."
Two ideas that came up at different points in all three interviews were:
o The needs of Marketing, Sales and business leaders to have a "360-degree view" of the customer through the database
o The fact that data hygiene is one of the very top issues with the marketing and sales database.
Our experts also talked about data hygiene, and identified five more topics B2B marketers should keep in mind in 2011:Topic #1. Data hygiene is critical
Holden stated, "Data hygiene is a massive problem for companies today." He said it's difficult to keep accurate information on customers and potential customers, and added that as high as 70 percent of a marketing database will go stale in the course of a year because of contacts changing jobs or changing roles within a company.
Rowley echoed Grossman's line that data is a highly valued asset within all enterprises, and that companies should understand the challenge when cleansing, enhancing and consolidating data.
He went on to say, "Data hygiene should be core to an organization's strategy, and it has to be conducted on a regular basis. Inaccurate data can have a detrimental impact on any business, and affect its credibility. It can also lead to decreases in productivity."
Grossman thinks "number one on the hit parade" for any company should be the willingness to spend money to clean up the data.
Elements of data hygiene include:
o Enhancing, correcting and expanding a record
o Adding a telephone number that matches a contact name
o Adding an email address that matches a contact name
o Appending and validating the data
o Finding missing elements in the data fields
o Identifying duplicate entries in the dataTopic #2. Act like a consumer marketer and conduct behavioral analysis
Grossman said B2B marketers have traditionally used a basic set of characteristics to segment their lists for analysis, such as:
o firmographics (essentially, demographics for organizations)
o Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)
o number of employees
o sales volume
B2B marketers, perhaps learning from their B2C brethren, are now realizing that behavioral information is something they should be looking at as well.
Once again, testing and analysis is an area she recommends B2B marketers put money into, and to take advantage of the many tools and products available to conduct this analysis on the database. She also said that when B2B marketers engage in behavioral analysis, they can use that information to create event-triggered marketing campaigns.Constant updates
Holden added that it's important for the B2B marketer to get the most complete picture possible of the customer and what that customer is doing, and to update it constantly because that picture may change over time.
He pointed out one trend -- customers used to spend the majority of their time online searching on Google -- now those same people are spending time on social sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
He said, "You need to bring those identities (into your analysis) and that aspect of where people are (online) into the equation when you are evaluating who people are as you try to market to them."
Rowley stated behavioral and psychographic data will become more available with standard industry data and this information will both improve productivity and provide a clearer picture of the competitive landscape.Topic #3. The repository (aka, the database) should connect Marketing with Sales
Holden mentioned that the latest in database platforms addresses Sales, Service and Marketing all out of the same box in the same platform. Because of this, all three business areas can:
o See what the other is doing
o Interact with each other
o Share information between the three departments
o Access the same database of information.Database elements
Grossman defined the essential elements of the database repository:
o Accepts all information -- transactional and delivery (such as postal or email information)
o Includes behavioral information like "where did you come from?," "what did you do on the website?," etc.
o Includes traditional data such as firmographics, SIC, number of employees, etc.
o Includes financial information
She said, "You need a repository that is structured to allow for all this information to be properly, consistently and accurately inputted into it."
She continued, "(There needs to be) integration between the sales automation and marketing database. (Sales) has its own automation system, and the information from that automation system feeds back into the marketing database so that Marketing and Management have a 360-degree view of the customer, and Sales has all of the information they need, as well as the technology, to continue to sell."Topic #4. Social networking is a growing trend
Holden said the trend making its foray into the business world right now is that companies are trying to figure out how they tap into social networks and how they can more quickly react to customers by putting themselves on equal footing with these customers using social network tools on the Internet.
He added that B2B marketers should be thinking about how to collaborate internally with their sales teams, and to respond to customers in the way they are becoming accustomed to by using social networking tools.
Rowley offered, "Social networks will continue to play a role enabling data to follow the full customer lifecycle regardless of where that data comes from. Tools will be improved to make sense of this information and use it to enhance the customer experience."Topic #5. Mobile computing is also a growing trend
On mobile computing, Rowley said wireless devices will enable more access to customer data and that this access will need to mirror the access found within a traditional office setting. The customer service representative's ability to manage this information and access the tools to service the customer is already occurring.
Holden stated that it's hard to deny how quickly people are adopting mobile devices like smartphones and tablet computers.
"I think that as a marketer you have to understand that you know people are going to spend more and more of their time on these mobile devices," he said. B2B marketers need to be aware of how they are reaching these customers, and that some of the old strategies will need to shift to accommodate all the different mobile platforms being used by your customers.Topic #6. Let crowdsourcing help you create marketing strategies and maintain your database
According to Holden, people are changing jobs more frequently and they are likely putting forward different identities on social networking sites than what they are using professionally.
For a complete database record it's important to try and capture all this information to help really understand who these customers are. Crowdsourcing communities with cloud-based tools and the real-time nature of the Internet can help keep this information accurate and up-to-date in the database.
Holden said crowdsourcing will let the communities that are already out there help you identify these customers, build affinity in terms of interest, and help you segment aspects of these customers and how that fits into your overall marketing strategy and individual campaigns.Useful links related to this articleDMRS Groupsalesforce.comParker Software Ltd.
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