What Data-Driven Marketing Is and Why It’s So Effective
Data-driven marketing is on track to be the “next big thing” in B2B. That’s good, because it works!
But you don’t have to take our word for it. The underlying principle of data-driven marketing is that your data should speak for itself – as long as you have the tools and systems in place to listen for it.
Deciding which tools and systems to put in place does take a little work, of course. Therefore, before you start, it’s good to know some basic background information on what data-driven marketing is and why it generates business results. Here’s how it works.
Data-driven marketing is about new, hard data flowing into a not-so-new theoretical framework
When it comes to big-picture marketing theories, or any business theories for that matter, most decision-makers prefer sticking to what has been proven to work over a period of time in the past. (Or they have the time and resources to wait around for a new theory to play out in the future. You probably don’t fall into that category!)
Today, one of these well-respected marketing theories involves customer-centricity, in which organizations design their strategies around identifying and creating value for their best customers. The basic idea has been around since the 1970’s, when marketers realized that their customers wouldn’t always buy a product or service simply because it existed.
So customer-centricity isn’t new. What is new is that over the last few years the amount of available data on customers has exploded. This data can supercharge customer-centric marketing efforts. Enter data-driven marketing. It’s this combination of time-tested theory and newly available data that makes it so effective.
Now let’s go into more detail on each of the elements that make up data-driven marketing: the data, the driving, and the marketing.
The data: today’s customers generate massive quantities of intent data
A few years ago, B2B customers researched potential purchases with a salesperson. Today, they do it all online. They read reviews, browse blog posts, attend webinars, and download whitepapers, for example, as they wind their digital way to an eventual sale. All of that online activity creates intent data signaling a future sale.
The existence of that intent data, of course, is what makes data-driven marketing possible. This level of information on prospect behavior has not existed at any previous point in the history of marketing. Imagine, for example, what a tremendous advantage it would have been for a 1990’s marketer to know – every time – how often and for how long a prospect spoke to competitors’ salesperson.
Today, you can capitalize on previously unimaginable advantages like that every day. That’s because instead of using a phone to get information from a salesperson, prospects are using a computer to find that information on the Internet (and leaving a trail of data in the process).
The driving: making the data actionable
To capitalize on these advantages, though, all of this intent data has to be identified, curated, and made usable.
Marketers who get this process right will thrive as this powerful new form of Big Data continues to get Bigger. Marketers who don’t will miss the opportunity.
That, of course, is why we built InsightBase®, our flagship software platform. It is designed to support you all the way through this process, right down to identifying the contact details of the individual prospects researching your product or service.
The marketing: continuously improved customer-centricity
Once you do have the right data, you can act on it by adjusting your customer-centric strategies and campaigns around it. The data provides insight into what works (and what doesn’t) for a given customer or set of customers, and you can respond accordingly.
For example, if intent data signals that one of your prospect companies is interested in a certain product of yours, you can prepare the mid-funnel differentiating content that you know will be most effective for such a prospect and deliver it to them.
The online activity around that content will then signal whether it was valuable to the customer along the way to an eventual sale – or not. You can then tweak your content strategy based on the results, even after the initial sale as you look to deepen the customer relationship.
And there you have it: data-driven marketing in a nutshell. The conclusion we recommend you make (and the one we made, actually, when we designed InsightBase) is that you should focus on the “driving” aspect of data-driven marketing. That’s where you will make a difference.
Big Data is a global megatrend taking place with or without you, and intent data is its most useful new manifestation for B2B marketers. How you drive a combination of the two concepts for your business, however, will play a key part in your success in the 21st century. Drive well!