The importance of using customer data in B2B marketing

When it comes to B2B marketing, data has become absolutely essential to running a successful marketing campaign. If you’re not mining your company’s data to help strengthen your B2B marketing efforts then you’re missing out on vast riches of resources that are readily available to you.

The use of data can not only help you better define who your target audience is – helping you to attract higher quality leads – but it can help you to personalise your marketing, allowing you to build stronger relationships with the businesses you’re targeting.

The following are a few examples of how the use of data can benefit your B2B marketing strategy.

Augmenting first party data with third party data

First party data is data that you collect directly from the interaction that you’ve had with targeted businesses, whether their purchase history or their history of downloads from your site (such as what eBooks or white papers they have downloaded). This kind of data can be very helpful in targeting leads via your email marketing.

But you should be sure to augment the use of first party data with that of third party data. Third party data is data that is collected from outside providers, which means it’s data that you haven’t collected from your users.

Some third party data is public, such as the data you can mine from social media. By looking at a lead or customer’s social media profile, you can find out all kinds of information, from interests to business connections.

Third party data is helpful because it can help you to better understand your customers’ wants and needs, thereby allowing you to create more accurate buyer personas, which Hubspot describes as “semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers”.

When creating buyer personas consider customer demographics, psychographic characteristics, values, pain-points, motivations, goals, favourite brands, and preferred channels of communication.

Segmenting and personalising

By analysing both first party and third party data, you’ll be able to not only identify who your target audience is but you’ll be able to segment them so that you’re not just marketing towards one of your potential target audiences – remember, you can have more than one target audience.

It’s worth noting, however, that in the initial stages, it’s best to expand from audience to another. You’ll be able to determine your first target audience by looking at your early adopters. Who are the first people using your product?

It may turn out that the accounting software you are selling is relevant to both startups and medium-sized enterprises that have been around for at least five years. Those are two different audiences you should be marketing to.

While startups and medium-sized enterprises both fall into the business category, they have very different pain-points and will require different messaging. Generally speaking, startups would be more interested in affordability and flexibility, whereas medium-sized enterprises would be more interested in reliability and security.

You can segment your marketing using the data you collect so that you can personalise your marketing efforts more, such as by directly targeting startup companies with one email while directly targeting mid-sized companies with another. This way you can personalise your message to better meet their specific needs, whether it’s affordability, efficiency, flexibility, reliability or security, to name a few examples.

You can actually take it one step further and personalise your product, offering different features to different audiences at different prices. In fact, many SaaS companies offer three different pricing models catering to single users, small business teams and enterprises.

Perhaps one of the most interesting examples of personalisation can be seen in Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. The company printed a variety of names on their labels based on which names are popular in which country (and probably also based on the names of customers in their digital database).

The goal of this campaign was to encourage Coke drinkers to not only find their own names on bottles but to buy a personalised Coke for their friends and family.

Targeted marketing

You’re going to find that the more you apply the data you have collected from customers, the more narrow your target audience is going to become. This does not necessarily translate to less sales.

In fact, narrowing your marketing to focus on a more targeted audience is typically a good thing – it means that you’re going to have a much bigger success rate, whereas with a broader target, you’re probably wasting your resources on businesses that won’t be interested in your products or services.

At Appster, we strongly believe in dominating small customer segments one at a time. This allows you to test your market before investing heavily in marketing, and also maximises your return on investment because your efforts are targeted towards individuals that are most likely to convert to customers.

A great example of a B2B company that employed a successful targeted marketing campaign is Xerox. Xerox specialises in selling document technology products to businesses. They created a marketing campaign called “get optimistic” that was aimed at connecting with their top 30 clients.

Xerox then partnered up with Forbes, one of the most reputable business publications, and created a magazine that provided helpful business tips, thereby directly connecting their service to the industry they were targeting.

Their email readership skyrocketed upwards of 400% from previous email campaigns with more than 70% of the companies they targeted interacting with their microsite on some level. The campaign resulted in some 20,000 new contacts for Xerox – a success if there ever was one.

As you can see with the success that Xerox had with targeted marketing, using both first party and third party data to help influence your strategy can have a huge impact in terms of reaching your marketing goals.

It’s not just that the use of data can help – it’s that not using data can actually be detrimental to your marketing efforts. By ignoring your consumer data, your message will end up falling on deaf ears, which means a big part of your marketing budget is going to waste.

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