Bob Murphy

Three Myths and Facts About Using Data in B2B Marketing

By: Bob Murphy | December 28, 2016 | 
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Three Facts and Myths About Using Data in B2B MarketingLet’s face it: There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the power of data in B2B marketing.

Marketers perusing the internet may find one source saying “big data” is the key to converting their most stubborn leads into qualified prospects.

While another would say the definition of big data is widely misunderstood.

What’s a marketer to believe?

Today, we’re looking to dispel some common myths about the uses and misuses of data in B2B marketing and provide some clarification on what it can (and can’t) do.

The Bigger the B2B Marketing Data Set, the Better

The fact is, it’s more about targeted data than big data sets.

While having more information about your audience can help you get a better sense of their buying habits, more isn’t always better.

Vast sums of data from multiple sources won’t always help you achieve your goal.

In fact, large amounts of data inconsistently collected can skew your results and make your marketing less successful.

Rather than focus on quantity, your data collection should focus on quality and appropriate targeting.

To set up a useful data collection program, first know who your audience is and how you will use the data to reach members of that audience.

Research your audience and identify the key items you need to know to move them down the marketing funnel.

Set up your data collection program with this in mind.

Target your data collection efforts to gather the right information from the right people.

Change Your Strategy to Respond to Negative Shifts

That also is a myth. The fact is that data shows trends and is best tracked over time.

It’s tempting to rework your approach when you see a decline in website traffic, or a decrease in downloads.

But, if you don’t take a closer look at the long-term trends, you risk jumping to conclusions based on an incomplete understanding.

It’s important to make sure you are looking at a true trend.

Looking at one data point and making a major campaign change based on that may turn out to be an outlier.

If you are seeing outliers that don’t match the general trends in your data, take a closer look.

Often, investigating anomalies can yield deep insights into customer behavior.

If you’re seeing changes in your data when you haven’t changed any of your tactics, or you’re seeing some strange correlations, continue to track shifts over time.

There may be an outside variable exerting influence on your data set.

Before you rework your strategy and tactics, consider the factors outside your control that may affect your marketing results.

Robust data collection gives you a powerful view into the effectiveness of your marketing investment.

However, effective data-driven marketing depends on overall trends, not reactionary moves every time there’s a blip on the radar.

What’s important is to keep alignment with your overall B2B marketing strategy and monitor the trends.

When you do make changes, it’s critical to use methods such as A/B testing, rather than scrapping everything at once.

A strategic approach to testing can give you insights of each element of your marketing program.

This way you can make informed decisions about any changes you make.

Data Predicts Rational Decisions—and That’s What Matters

As it turns out, even in B2B marketing, people buy from people. Emotion matters.

It’s a common myth you must appeal only to a buyer’s sense of rationality.

Emotion rarely comes into play when you’re promoting machinery that can stamp the barcode on the bottom of a milk carton—right?

When we assume we’re dealing solely with rational buyers, it makes sense to invest heavily in data.

Data predicts what a buyer will do under normal circumstances, regardless of emotion, so it’s especially suited for B2B.

But no buyer is wholly rational.

It’s true data can help out tremendously in B2B marketing, but you can’t ignore emotion in your marketing content.

Did you know that if a B2B buyer is emotionally connected to your brand, they’re about 50 percent more likely to consider buying from you?

While in B2C branding, customers are emotionally driven to purchase a product, B2B buyers care about their brand experience.

  • Can you provide them with information that addresses their biggest concerns?
  • Are you sharing information that makes their job easier?

You can’t predict how someone’s feeling on a certain day, but data can help you understand your audience emotionally.

How?

Take a look at your engagement-related metrics.

The quantitative data of engagement metrics can offer insights into how your audience members feel about their marketing interactions.

And once they qualify for outreach, you get insights on their sales interactions.

By looking at the engagement of a particular contact over time, you learn about whether they seek out and welcome interaction with your brand, or give your outreach only a cursory glance.

Aggregate engagement data also offers emotional insights.

It reveals whether your audience members, as a group, respond to certain attempts to move them to action.

Other types of data can also inform your understanding of your audience’s emotional response to your brand.

Consider doing a survey of current customers and prospective customers to better understand the challenges they face.

You may end up with some great insights for your next campaign.

In Conclusion

Data collection and analysis is essential for the functioning of a strong marketing program.

But data can only help your organization’s marketing when you approach it with a clear understanding of how to make the most of the data you collect.

To make data a powerful force in your organization’s marketing, take another look at your strategy in light of these myths and facts.

About Bob Murphy


Bob Murphy is a managing partner at Movéo, which partners with category-leading brands to craft strategies and build tactics that engage audiences and drive business growth. Bob manages the Data & Insights group and the Strategy & Planning team at Movéo.

  • paulakiger

    Great info, Bob!

    • Bob Murphy

      Thanks much Paula.

  • We need data to get a real feel of the market. At the same time we need to take into account the context. Great read, Bob!

    • Bob Murphy

      Well said Corina. To much time is spent gathering vast amounts of data and creating dashboards without taking into account the context.

  • This is great. I hammer big data all the time. It is little data that wins sales not big data. A data set can say 30% of people do X. But if I take one person…I only have a 30% chance of them doing something.

    B2B is a bit squishy because if you are selling anything of value per transaction most businesses use direct sales people who are tasked with the little data and the outgoing search vs using the web. I worked for a company in sales that in any major city MAYBE there are 10 prospects and I knew who every single one was. So my challenge was connecting with the specific people inside those companies that can use my product/service. This was before social media (2002-2007).
    In this case Big Data was over zero value to me.

    • Bob Murphy

      Great points Howie. As you suggest not all data is useful. It must be relevant and actionable.

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