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The Imperative: For B2B Marketing You Must Have Digital and Physical Data

January 31, 2017

This guest blog post was written by Anudit Vikram, Senior Vice President, Advanced Marketing Solutions at Dun & Bradstreet.

In my role leading Advanced Marketing Solutions at Dun & Bradstreet, I get the opportunity to meet with customers across a variety of B2B industries and sizes. We often discuss ways for them to stay ahead of the curve by designing marketing strategies that will grow their business. Here are three topics we discuss the most.

1) The B2B buyer’s journey is complex

Unlike in most B2C scenarios, there are multiple decision makers that need to be touched multiple times. The B2B buyer’s journey is a complicated matrix of online and offline campaigns with multiple stakeholders involved in a purchase decision. And they come in and out the funnel on the way to a final decision.

This Knowledge Tree article, “What Do Today’s B2B Buyers Want?” highlights the reality of the B2B buyer group: “A DemandGen report shows that in the past year, 34% of B2B buyers have increased the number of stakeholders involved in the purchase process. For any given sales situation, there could be anywhere from 7 to 20 people involved in a B2B buying decision…it takes five to six decision-makers to agree for a sale to even happen.”

The B2B Buyer Journey is complicated

In looking at this complexity, we must acknowledge that both ‘digital millennials’ and ‘digital immigrants’ are involved in the decision making process. The first group have grown up in a digital world. The latter group, not so much, and thus they value the offline experience as much, or more, than the digital experience. Unlike the B2C space where millennials are already in final decisioning/purchasing seats, the B2B world is still largely run by digital immigrants.

This reality means that it is imperative that B2B marketers bridge online and offline worlds. It is the only way to have a deep understanding of the multiple stakeholders involved in order to approach these individuals with the right content at the right time.

2) Data is the bridge that connects omnichannel marketing programs

As buyers engage with your brand, online and offline campaigns generate data that can be captured within your marketing systems. Imagine two marketing streams. The first starts with tracking anonymous visitors on your website, adverting to them through your DMP, and capturing their information through a webform. The second is through an event sponsorship that results in a list of 200 leads/contacts. Both streams are imported into your CRM. As this data is generated and populated in your marketing systems, you must stitch the data together for a consolidated view of your customers and prospects. To make the most of your data you need to:

  • Know what data you have and where it resides
  • Enrich your first party data with relevant third party company and contact data
  • Bring the data together in one place with a common, unique and persistent identifier

3) Use a persistent identifier across online and offline channels

With the help of madtech and data partners, you can accomplish the bridging of online and offline data. As the expectations of the people we market to increase, the repercussions of not doing it well are too high to ignore. Irrelevant content and the inability to address all stakeholders leads to poor ROI, lack of engagement and brand damage.

According to Bright Funnel’s 2016 ABM Report, there is a 4:1 ratio of Event touches (both trade shows and field marketing) to digital tactics such as display advertising. If you’re not considering offline interactions, you’re over-valuing online metrics and attributing success incorrectly. Use a persistent identifier tied to online and offline account records to unify account interactions under one umbrella across your DMP, CRM, MAP, and ad agency partners. This will give you a single source of truth to continually inform your online and offline targeting, and help you focus your messages on the right audiences.

Take the bull by the horns! By tackling the complex B2B buyer’s journey, you can track your prospects as they engage with you online and offline, as they become part of one campaign, then another. And you can continue to put appropriate content and activities in front of them as they flow through the funnel. This is the future of B2B marketing – don’t be a laggard!