Last week, in part one of our three part series, we examined how critical it is to understand your organization’s marketing maturity when it comes to creating an effective multi-channel marketing strategy. While customer intelligence plays a key role in identifying and transforming an effective marketing strategy, marketers need to realize that, while they may have access to data, very few of them are able to leverage customer intelligence to produce and drive marketing strategy.
In part two, we will look at how many BtoB marketers are beginning to realize the value of customer intelligence and how it can provide actionable insight and optimize revenue, although many continue to view the process as costly and complex.
The issue isn’t whether customer intelligence is necessary; it’s determining what kind of customer intelligence BtoB marketers need to achieve their business objectives. As a result, marketers need to treat customer intelligence as an evolution, rather than a revolution. There is no better way to start that evolution than to start using that data for analytical purposes.
Taking this approach enables marketers to think about using their existing data as customer intelligence, learn from it and then improve upon it over time. As they learn and achieve results, marketers will discover the benefits of database marketing, applying customer intelligence in more meaningful ways and begin the execution of multi-channel marketing campaigns, at the right time, and in the right places, to optimize revenue.
Sitting on a Treasure Trove Most BtoB marketers would be very surprised to learn they are sitting on a treasure trove of usable customer data. Whether data is readily accessible, inaccurate or complete is not the point, nor should it hinder you from using customer intelligence today. Even the simplest marketing campaigns produce customer interaction history that qualifies as customer intelligence. For example:
What is the most popular message or offer to a particular type of contact?
How many contacts actually responded to the message or offer?
Which channel was the most effective?
Those basic questions begin to paint a picture around customer intelligence that tells the marketer who is responding to campaigns and why?; What is the best way to engage them?; and Is this the best market segment? In this simple example, a BtoB marketer would form the beginning stages of segmenting, profiling and interacting with customers the way they want to buy from you.
A key decision at this early stage of using customer intelligence is to keep asking questions about the attributes of your customers, factoring that knowledge into your campaigns, testing what you’re learning and measuring the results. Taking this systematic approach, most marketing organizations soon become “hooked” on the value of the data and the results it can drive. As a result, their customer intelligence requirements increase tremendously, and they soon begin to think about ways to organize that data for maximum benefit.
The Next Step: A Marketing Database BtoB marketers know they are ready for a marketing database when they need:
To manage responses and other marketing interaction data that are generated from a myriad of online and offline sources;
More complex firmographic and demographic segmentation and profiling to increase leads, incent buying, or take advantage of significant up-sell and cross-sell opportunities; and
To use more sophisticated segmentation and profiling to drive campaigns and offers to the right buyers, at the right time, and in the right places.
In keeping with the approach to evolve toward more increasingly sophisticated uses of customer intelligence, the implementation of a marketing database is the next step. It provides the capability to use tools to analyze very large amounts of data all in one place. Most marketing automation systems do not have extensive capabilities in this area.
For example, in BtoB, there is a rich trove of untapped intelligence from marketing, sales and service. This data includes not just simple transaction information about product purchases and shipment dates, but also details concerning customer interactions, product installation, product use and service calls. Locked in the raw data about a customer’s behavior are important insights about their interactions, which are significantly more actionable through a marketing database, integrated with interactive, customer intelligence tools that are designed for marketers to use.
The Value of More Sophisticated Customer Intelligence Finding, winning, and keeping customers increasingly rely on utilizing more sophisticated forms of customer intelligence. As marketers evolve their use of customer intelligence and build extensive interaction history through their campaigns, they begin to see the value of the data they’ve accumulated and how they can use it in multi-channel marketing.
Three important factors bringing greater use of customer intelligence to the forefront include:
Data is exploding at a nearly 1000% increase in the last five years (according to IDC);
Social media and mobile communications are driving data explosion;
Cloud computing and associated technologies, i.e., social media listening platforms, marketing automation systems and sales force automation are making data more accessible and actionable.
The tsunami of data available on buying behavior is positioning customer intelligence at the forefront of new multi-channel marketing initiatives. BtoB marketers are moving beyond simple demographics and firmographics. They are taking a deeper, holistic view of customer intelligence, spanning segmentation, profiling, market penetration and behavior. This allows marketers to quickly answer the most important questions about their companies, their customers, and their market and account penetration. Watch for part three of this column series next week when we discuss how to create a road map for multi-channel, BtoB marketing.
Michael Shanker is CEO and Director of Extraprise, a leader in right time revenue optimization for B2B and B2C enterprises, providing database marketing and demand generation services. For more information, contact the author at
, visit www.extraprise.com, or call +1(888)i2iMKTG.