By Nick Washbourne, Account Director, Market Location.
B2b marketers are now at the vanguard of data-driven marketing techniques. No longer the poor relations to their consumer counterparts, this revolution has come from a real understanding of the value of data, and from a dedicated nurturing of bespoke data applications.
Just like when sitting in a restaurant and deciding whether to pick from the set or a la carte menu, b2b marketers can now consider both off the shelf and made to order databases and analytical tools as an accessible and cost effective means of refining and enhancing the marketing strategies they create.
Organisations have been quick to carefully tailor their approaches to data-driven marketing as a means of deriving usable insight from customer data, and far from being an unusual quirk, encouraging businesses to customise their data capabilities is something that should be applauded.
Yet historically many businesses have stuck with the set menu when it comes to the actual data they purchase.
Available in a variety of guises from large pooled b2b databases with wide reaching coverage of the market to smaller more specific lists which specialise in often more quirky insight, data has tended to be purchased in off the shelf packages, each presented as an ‘all in one’ solution to satisfying a business’s hunger for customer and prospect data.
This approach has undoubtedly been a success, and the wide range of list types available has meant businesses have been able to acquire the data most suited to their needs without any difficulty.
Modelling and profiling of customer types has also been instrumental in helping to source the most appropriate customer and prospect data by simply matching up the business’s requirements with what the market has to offer.
But this method of data acquisition is becoming outmoded as businesses begin to see the benefits of extending their bespoke mindset beyond databases and analytical tools.
Specifically more organisations are looking to tailored data acquisition, so new data perfectly fits their own specific needs, and helps them to overcome the prevalent shortcomings of the traditional list-based approach.
Put simply, the fact that so many businesses are now using customer data has put something of a strain on the lists available to the market; the responsiveness of customers on a list is likely to be reduced if said list is being used by more than one business.
And similarly ‘lists’ in their current form limit marketers to the specific fields of information they contain, whether this be data on the customer’s name, address and buying responsibility to more in-depth knowledge like home address or demographic detail about the company they represent.
Data analysis can of course then play a role in generating usable insight from what raw data is available, but in the same way that poor ingredients will make even the best recipe taste bad, ‘standard’ off the shelf data may not deliver the best or most appropriate insight to each individual business.
But a bespoke approach is changing the face of b2b data. If a business wants to target its marketing based on factors which cannot be bought off the shelf, it can now look to harness the appropriate data at its source, gathering the most appropriate insight to suit its specific needs directly from potential clients.
The type of data being gathered could be anything; from finding out whether a business uses a water cooler to the coffee machine they use and who orders it. Or it can be something highly specific and out of the ordinary, like whether a restaurant runs any themed nights, which pubs have big screen to watch the football, or even whether the company’s managing director plays golf (and what days of the week they like to play).
All these highly individual data elements can be extremely important in driving a marketing campaign that is totally unique to a business.
Choosing bespoke data can also play a part in improving ‘trigger’ business data. Finding out when the client’s photocopier contract is up for renewal as well as who is responsible for approving a new contract can enable a photocopier brand to target the right person, at exactly the right time, with the right marketing message.
And similarly knowing what day the MD plays golf can be a trigger to enacting personal communication with them about other offers. Trigger and ‘real-time’ data are both becoming important elements in b2b campaigns; not least because of the improvement in relevance they deliver by allowing a business to time its communications depending on the individual recipient.
The ability to pinpoint and collect specific trigger and real-time data with a bespoke approach is a significant step in making this work.
It’s clear that businesses are willing to embrace tailor made solutions to their database and analytical needs. But looking to bespoke data can in the long term be a more cost effective way of gaining unique insight into business targets.
Data generated in this way can also sit comfortably next to off the shelf lists, helping to enhance the data they already provide whilst driving a more sophisticated understanding of how to market effectively.
Any business using data needs to be adventurous, choosing items from both set and a la carte data menus to satisfy their data hunger.
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