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B-to-B marketers must improve data collection, database operations to unleash marketing ROI

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Epsilon and global research firm GfK recently completed an executive survey which found that the majority of business-to-business marketers are struggling with data collection and database operations—shortcomings that undoubtedly prevent them from realizing the full potential of their communication efforts.

Although nearly seven out of 10 have “sufficient” customer data to build personalized communications, too many firms lack the processes and information they need to truly maximize data-driven marketing ROI because they:

• Encounter difficulties when trying to locate customer data. Approximately 40% say that customer data aren’t easily accessible for marketing purposes or cannot be retrieved without intervention from their IT departments.

• Can’t rely on existing customer data once they find them. Half of b-to-b marketers lack adequate operational capabilities or processes to ensure high quality data hygiene, obscuring their understanding of customers and preventing them from developing more relevant and valued communications.

• Miss opportunities to update and improve databases. Even with weaknesses in database operations and data quality being widely acknowledged, 65% of b-to-b marketers do not effectively capture customer data at all touch points.

These deficiencies impede marketers’ customer insight and their understanding of the multichannel customer experience. As a result, customer segmentation and targeting suffers and marketing ROI is diminished. So what should b-to-b marketers do to improve and maximize results?

• Focus on data collection every time they are in touch with a customer—online, offline and on the phone. Every interaction should be treated an as opportunity to build out the breadth of the customer’s profile. Customer touch points also represent opportunities to measure and analyze campaign results to more effectively guide strategic planning and future budget allocations.

• Build prospect databases and leverage learnings from customer data to improve relevancy over time. Marketers should also explore using b-to-b cooperatives to give prospect lists a quick boost while at the same time helping firms understand the purchasing patterns of current business customers.

• Automate triggered communications based on the customer lifecycle. Once marketers have grown and improved their customer databases, they can use them to automate reminders for sales teams and trigger upsell offers based on customers’ past purchase behaviors. In turn, sales staff can focus on building relationships and growing customer profitability rather than spending their time sifting through customer information to determine optimal contact times and frequencies.

Jordan Cohen is the director of industry and government relations at Epsilon. Reach him at jcohen@epsilon.com.

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