It’s a prospect that has tantalised marketing for a generation: the potential for customer data, intelligence and insight to combine in ways that allow us to predict revenue and growth opportunities. While limitations in technology and access to data have prevented marketers from realising this achievement, new advances are enabling marketers to be more strategic than ever before.
The results from our recent survey revealed that over half of B2B marketers believe that making data strategic was a priority for their company. We at Avention think there are two primary factors driving this move towards more strategic market planning: easier access to data and more advanced technology, both of which allow a more informed, focused approach to decision making.
The data and technology mix
While I hesitate to introduce the often over-hyped topic of big data, it’s clear that the promise of harnessing near real-time information, combined with more traditional sources, can revolutionise marketers’ ability to drive strategy. But this data is only useful if it can be accessed, visualised and interpreted to deliver insight that’s immediately actionable in the real world. The technologies, tools and applications to do this, and do it easily, are now a reality.
Today, online tools can combine internal and external data with a vast array of predictive insights, such as whether a business is entering new markets, opening new facilities, hiring new executives or experiencing rapid growth. All of this puts power in marketers’ hand to use the right data to develop the right strategies.
One example is Avention’s OneSource DataVision platform, which combines global data from over 100 sources to give marketers the ability to access greater insight about existing accounts, identify look-alike prospects, target key decision makers and act on triggers and predictive business signals.
Putting it into practice
So what does this convergence of data sources and technology mean for a strategic marketing approach? One of the most significant developments we’re seeing is the rise of account-based marketing (ABM) as a core element of organisations’ marketing strategies. ABM is nothing new, but with data and technology having finally caught up, the concept is gaining traction.
In a separate survey of over 100 global marketers, 90 per cent said they see ABM as relevant to their businesses and 86 per cent are confident it will drive growth. This confidence is well placed, with MarketingProfs reporting that companies using an account-based approach generate 208% more revenue from their marketing efforts.
Most people don’t talk about it, but data really is the foundational building block and the necessary fuel for any account-based strategy. Without the right data, your decisions will be based on guesses or half-truths. And the data I’m talking about isn’t just data in your CRM or marketing automation system. Nor is it just external data. It’s the combination of internal and external data, analysed, and presented in a way that’s easy to understand that makes ABM something that’s feasible.
There are hundreds of questions you should be able to ask yourself about your own particular market using this combined internal and external data, including things like “what technologies are in use?” or “are they under new leadership?” All of these characteristics can be mapped to accounts to help you understand which companies are more likely to buy your products. This is where a data partner like Avention comes in - we can provide the insights that allow marketers to make the correct account selection decisions.
With target accounts selected, you can move on to realising potential, first by validating the targets you have identified, mapping contact coverage and assessing the extent of account penetration to date. Then you can identify the most relevant and effective contacts based on function and role to ensure you have the right coverage for growth.
Now we really get down to business, adding depth to the insight created by your account map. This can include financial information, employment data, the technologies your target uses, key recent business events, company expansion or diversification, other companies in the group and purchasing intent information. As well as company data, you can harness understanding of contacts, with comprehensive contact data (email/phone/mobile/social media), seniority and how long they have been at the company.
Combining these approaches will allow you to build a strategy that results in relevant, timely campaigns and messaging to engage your targets. When you look at the boost that data-fuelled ABM brings, it makes you wonder how you ever marketed without it.
Ready for launch
The Avention survey shows that just over half of marketers are starting or piloting ABM strategies, with another 21% planning to in the next six to 12 months. This means there is a tremendous opportunity for marketers finally to use their data as a strategic asset and to understand markets and segments in rich detail to identify and predict growth and revenue opportunities.
I’ve written before about the phenomenon of “data paralysis” acting as a drag on marketing’s evolution into a powerful business decision maker. But access to internal and external data, combined with the technologies that drive insight, shows that data is now energising our industry. Strategic marketing insight is ready for launch.