B2B Data Technology Expands To Meet Real-Time Buyer Needs

Published: February 15, 2017

B2B marketers need accurate data to better target and engage prospective customers—in real-time. To meet these demands, database marketing providers are expanding services to not only provide data and information, but also help B2B marketers execute on those insights gained.

Research from the CDP Institute shows that the customer data platform (CDP) industry is expected to exceed $1 billion in revenue by 2019, thanks to deeper investment and continued growth within the industry. More than $700 million in reported funding has been provided to these types of organizations.

“Many of the vendors evolved from earlier businesses, such as tag management and campaign management,” said David Raab, Founder of the CDP Institute, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “But it’s also due to fast growth among vendors who were CDPs from day one.”

However, much like any new trend or solution, expectations can be far grander than the actual results.

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“There’s over-expectation when it comes to these things,” Raab said. “Some of the vendors I track [can be] overpromising. People have to be realistic and test to make sure it really works—you can’t take this at face value.”

Experts note that the reason that many B2B marketers’ expectations for data solutions aren’t met, such as predictive analytics, is that they get hung up on how to use that newly gained insight.

“The reason why so many of [data solution] firms are so hands on is because a pretty good algorithm will generate insight, but it will not provide explicit instructions on what to do with them,”  Allison Snow, Senior Analyst, B2B Marketing at Forrester Research told DGR. “So there is still a really big engagement component here and the question then becomes what do I do with that information? How do I implement it and execute against that from a content marketing perspective? How do I integrate them into programs?”

Fuze, a unified communications and business VOIP company which recently closed $104 million in new funding leading into a looming IPO, tested various data vendors before landing on a solution to its database needs.

“You have to know the specific use case for each vendor before you work with them. It’s trial and error; it’s not going to always work,” said Emily Ketchum, Senior Manager, Global Marketing Operations at Fuze, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “The alignment is now happening between marketing and sales, and now we’re targeting the right people at the right accounts—which is huge.”

The company is using Oceanos’ data cleanse and append products to validate existing contact information in its database. The solution tracks social profiles through LinkedIn and Twitter to assure the contact’s title and company are accurate. Ketchum said that understanding vendors’ specific use cases prior to working with them is crucial to maximizing success.

“In the end, sales will call [you out] if the data isn’t working,” Ketchum said. “It comes down to trusting your vendors, doing your research and testing small data sets so you can grow comfortable in it before making heavier investments.”

While it is too early for quantitative results, Fuze has already seen greater alignment on target accounts between marketing and sales, and Ketchum expects this to lead to “shorter sales cycles and larger deals.”

Tech Innovations For Real-Time Data

Many data technology vendors are expanding their offerings to give marketers the data they need when they need it. This expansion includes real-time access to data. One example of this can be seen in Dun & Bradstreet’s recent acquisition of Avention, which offers real-time data management capabilities. The company said it will also announce a new product in March that combines Avention with its existing Hoover’s product and offer that within Salesforce to D&B and Salesforce customers through a partnership with the CRM provider. Oracle also announced last week the launch of its Data Integrator Cloud, a service that simplifies cross-enterprise data integration to support real-time analytics.

“Real-time access to data … allows users to look that information up on the fly when it’s needed,” Raab said. “There’s astounding depth, and all of this information can be obtained in real-time so you can react in a timely matter with the right message.”

But this type of self-service technology has its limitations, according to Brian Hession, Founder & President of Oceanos. “The drawback is that it has to be vanilla for the user to analyze that information,” he told DGR. “But with younger marketers that are exposed early to these platforms, they want to be connected to this insight in a continual way.”

Account-based marketing (ABM) is also having an impact on the data technology space. For example, Hession noted that his ABM practitioner clients are open to sourcing more contacts from each individual account—looking to identify roughly 20 influencers to establish the buying committee.

“This bodes well for the data vendors because the dataset can be larger,” Hession added. “Fewer clients are putting a cap on contacts from each company. They want a clearer lens into potential contacts for each account. Then these additional features, such as predictive, can help with prioritization.”

Attaining A Single Source Of Data Truth

Buyer demands are also leading technology innovations to one main goal—the ability to have a “single source” of information that can be leveraged as needed. But due to the shelf life of data, experts state that this is not an easily achievable goal without the right connections.

“That single source of truth? Forget about it; it’s not possible to create a single source of truth internally,” John Hurley, Director of Demand Generation and Content Marketing at Radius told DGR. “Since data is so dynamic, it’s crucial to connect to external data sources that are moving towards creating a single source of truth.”

Hurley said this has led to a renewed focus within B2B organizations to focus on the existing data, since it fuels all strategy.

“Marketers have started to realize that the foundational data—internal and external—are not where they need to be,” Hurley said. “We always talk about ‘garbage in, garbage out’ with predictive, but that can be said for any aspect of the day-to-day B2B campaign.”

Fuze’s Ketchum also said that it’s really hard to find one vendor that does it all, as well as one that has all the data that is accurate enough to trust. “I’d much rather have three or four vendors,” Ketchum said. “It is tougher to manage, but at least you know by testing that their data is accurate.”

Raab added that having multiple data sources can be positive, enabling users to cross-check data for accuracy. “The reality is that there’s different strengths and weakness for each database,” he said. “So it’s not usually the best idea to rely on that single source because you’re limiting yourself.”

Once marketers are able to verify data credibility, it positions them to cross-check additional data that is pulled into the system—ultimately leading to better data to feed through their marketing solutions.

“You have to visually look at the data and compare it to the data you know that’s accurate in your database,” Raab concluded. “Again, it also depends on the application. You have to do some testing to match against your own files to prove accuracy.”

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