How data analytics is transforming B2B marketing

Consumer marketing might have grabbed many of the headlines around data-driven marketing, but B2B marketing is also going through a revolution thanks to digital change

With all the hype that has accompanied the digitisation of consumer marketing, it is easy to forget that another important field of marketing has been going through its own digital revolution.

While it might not boast the same massive data sets as those wielded by consumer marketers, business-to-business marketing (B2B) has been making steady strides in improving how it captures and utilises data to fine-tune the sales process.

B2B marketing is benefiting from many of the same automation and analytic technologies and techniques being used in consumer marketing, but applied to a much smaller range of targets and in a one-to-one fashion that many consumer marketers might only dream of.

In B2B, what you do with your data is far more important than how much of it you have.

At the heart of the changes in B2B marketing is the fusion of big data analytics with marketing automation. These technologies are forging closer bonds between B2B marketing and sales teams, and at times blurring the lines between the two.

Big data database technology company, MapR, reports increased interest in its technology from B2B sales organisations. According to its US-based chief applications architect, Ted Dunning, this is especially true for companies with highly-complex product lines, where a single rep cannot possibly be aware of everything the company sells.

According to Dunning, this work represents an evolution of the original CRM systems that first appeared well over a decade ago, as big data technology brings predictive analytics to the rule-based responses of original CRM systems.

“Some of our customers have over a million products, and even to imagine that a person knows 1 per cent of the product line is absurd,” Dunning says. “But an automated system can keep track of all of the contacts between the company and all of the Web visits by the customer, and use that information to figure out when particular people are going to be receptive to making decisions about particular products.

“Predictive analytics can really help by saying ‘here are the five products that this person is likely to be interested in this quarter’. But none of this would have even been on the table if we didn’t already have CRM systems in place to capture this data.”

Read more: Why predictive analytics matters

How predictive analytics is helping with customer attrition at American Express

Predictive analytics edges closer to mainstream with fresh vendor investments

Greater interaction analysis

The key difference between old and new forms of CRM is the ability to analyse a far greater number of interactions between the buyer and supplier, across different channels and product lines. However, lengthy time lines and complexity of engagement (and particularly the potential for cross-contamination when conducting AB testing) makes determining overall success of these initiatives difficult, particularly if they are just measured in revenue terms.

Hence Dunning says it is important marketers find appropriate proxies to use as guides to long-term success.

“Revenues are so delayed as a measure here, you have to come up with surrogates in the modelling process that you can measure quickly and more accurately,” he explains. “You should be measuring all actions your customers take. The question then is which of those metrics actually represent surrogates.”

The most common surrogate is when and where a customer engages with the sales team or digital content. Dunning says this undisputable data can often be more reliable than the reports created by salespeople, who by nature are eternal optimists.

“As we get more and more data, we can look at it more and more seriously,” he says. “The triggers for sales are very complex and they are definitely multiple sources to the attribution and multiple indicators. And the differentiator between cause and effect is extraordinarily difficult in these settings. So this is the kind of problem where big data is very much required.”

Up next: How Amcom is tightening sales and marketing through marketing automation

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Tapping behavioural science for consumer influence

We know full well the business we’re in as marketers is really the business of choice. But recent discoveries from behavioural science are leading to a psychological revolution that challenges many of the accepted models of how communication, creativity and advertising influence a consumer’s preferences.

Kyle Ross

Account director, TRP

10 ways of changing your culture through self-awareness

Did you hear about the manager who always shot the messenger whenever they brought bad news? He eventually stopped hearing bad news. Unfortunately for him, this wasn’t because there was none to report.

Steve Glaveski

Co-founder, Collective Campus

How to create a compelling customer experience vision

Organisations are seeking new ways to engage customers, drive new sales and increase customer satisfaction by providing engaging customer experiences. A customer experience initiative that lacks a strong, clear vision often fails to achieve its intended result.

Olive Huang

Research director, Gartner

Agreed. I see the opposite problem quite often where people are tasked in an organisation just with "be creative" - thus offering no boun...

Dr Fiona Kerr

The great debate: Is data killing creativity?

Read more

By far, this is the best article I've come across so far that has a relevant information regarding the future of marketing. Although the ...

Jayden Chu

​Six ways to prepare for the future of digital marketing

Read more

These are some good ideas. You didn't touch on the overarching goals and results of brand loyalty. This article does a good job at provid...

hgsupport

Four ways to use social media to boost customer loyalty

Read more

This read like a PR PLUG for the agency. Very flowery language for the agency and very little details about the deal or the project.

Digital_Marketer

Why Tourism Victoria decided to go agile

Read more

This is a rather useful article! This prediction made in the digital marketing trend is very important to improve the service that the ag...

Adam Way

Digital marketing predictions – Part 2: Getting the strategy right

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in