The B2B purchasing landscape has been turned upside down over the past two years. The tried-and-true tactics of the pre-pandemic years no longer work today. According Forrester Predictions 2022“Persistent digital engagement will become the norm, with 70% of marketers adopting a permanent digital engagement strategy.” Marketing leaders who understand the needs of the modern digital buyer are well positioned to develop strategies and execute programs that set them apart from their competitors and drive revenue growth. This article highlights a few ways savvy leaders are making business intelligence a must-have part of their marketing strategy.
At the highest level, marketing strategy provides the framework for how a business will sell its portfolio of products and/or services to customers. There are many important inputs that can go into a given marketing strategy, including company/product vision, ideal customer profile, and competitive landscape.
This is where business intelligence comes in. Broadly speaking, business intelligence encompasses technology and associated data that enable marketers and salespeople to target and interact more effectively with their ideal customers; a thorough understanding of customers is the most important part of any marketing strategy.
Learn More: 5 Principles for Successful Sales Enablement – According to B2B Decision Makers
Seller-customer interaction data
A byproduct of moving from face-to-face interaction to digital engagement is greater visibility of salesperson-customer interactions. Historically, this “last mile” data has been difficult to capture because sellers and customers interact directly with each other, which mostly happened in person in B2B. With the rise of digital selling, we are seeing increased visibility into this data through sales, engagement and activation platforms such as CRMs, sales content management platforms and conversational intelligence tools.
The discoveries of McKinsey’s Global B2B Pulse found that the “rule of thirds” has taken root with respect to customer channel preferences: “Given the choice between the traditional channel (e.g., in-person), remote (e.g., videoconference or phone) and self-service (e.g., e-commerce), shoppers around the world have shown they want them all — and in equal measure across the buying journey. In a nutshell, customers want choice. The omnichannel world seems to be here to stay.
With roughly two-thirds of all salesperson-customer interactions occurring online or digitally, there is a greater amount of valuable data that can be mined for powerful insights. This quantitative data can also be enriched with qualitative insights from sellers to optimize marketing strategy and efforts. This salesperson-customer interaction data offers marketers a powerful new way to understand customers in the digital age.
Three areas of marketing strategy that can benefit from business intelligence
1. Product marketing strategy
Win-loss analysis involves analyzing a combination of historical sales data (often from CRM) and qualitative information from salespeople and others involved in the sales process. Examining wins and losses provides several layers of actionable information. Quantitative data on customer targeting and sales effectiveness can illuminate areas in which to deepen conversations with salespeople.
Customer targeting: Does the data show that you consistently win more business in certain industries or when your buyer is a specific person?
- Why are you not performing well in certain industries or with certain characters? Is product-market fit a problem? Is it better to target a smaller set of industries? Is your message focused on the right set of use cases for each character?
The answers to these questions may be the clues you need to revisit your go-to-market strategy, including ideal customer profile, positioning, and messaging.
- Alternatively, your customer targeting may be relevant. But underperforming salespeople aren’t equipped with the industry-specific messaging, use cases, and content they need to effectively engage prospects.
Problems in this area may indicate that you may need to revise your content strategy and create custom content for certain industries and personalities.
Sales efficiency: are some sales teams performing better than others?
- Do underperforming salespeople have the training materials they need to improve their skills? Are they able to tell the story of your product and are they consistently using the latest product marketing messaging? Are sellers using the best performing, marketing-approved content when engaging with buyers? Are they able to effectively demonstrate your product? Would they benefit from sales training on these media?
Issues in these areas indicate that more sales training and coaching may be needed for some salespeople to successfully land the product story. If they don’t use the prescribed narrative, what do they use instead? Does your narrative need to be updated to reflect market reality?
Competitive landscape: Which competitors are being evaluated with you in deal cycles?
- Do you see the same competitor appear? Are there any product or user experience gaps between your company’s product and the competition? Who made the deal first? Does your company have a reputation problem in the market?
The issues here can be multiple: you may need to rethink your brand and thought leadership strategy to increase your share of voice. You may also need to provide your sellers with competitive battle cards that allow them to sell on product value rather than feature comparisons.
2. Content strategy
Let’s look at the data in real time. All-in-one activation platforms with robust activation intelligence capabilities deliver engagement and content effectiveness insights “instantly.”
- What content does your seller share with their customers? Is the potential buyer really consuming the information? What topics interest them the most? Are there patterns: Do successful sellers tend to share the same content? Are there certain strengths that work particularly well for certain industries, target people, or at certain stages of the customer journey? Equally important, what content is not being shared by sellers?
- Do certain types of content, like videos or interactive content, perform better than static content?
- What is the open rate of salesperson-to-customer emails? What content do buyers engage with in emails? If you use digital auction rooms as a vector of communication, what content gets the most views? Is your content being shared more widely?
The answers to these questions can lead to a change in your content strategy. Your content mix may need to include more interactive content and video. If content engagement is low, you may need to create personalized sales content that resonates better with your customers. You may need to use an AI-powered recommendation engine that suggests the best performing content that has worked for others.
3. Campaign activation strategy
Business intelligence useful for product marketing and content strategy is also valuable for campaign strategy and planning. If some industries have a much higher number of closed deals than others, that’s a signal that you might want to double down on what’s working.
Business intelligence can justify moving away from generic “spray and pray” campaigns in favor of targeted and integrated campaigns. Campaigns that focus on a more narrowly defined customer profile benefit from personalized content that meets the needs of targeted people and industries. Part of a targeted campaign strategy includes producing comprehensive content to meet customer needs at all stages of purchase, as long as they match the profile. Targeted campaigns are also an effective way to establish alignment between marketing and sales, where marketing provides sales with more leads that ultimately close.
Learn more: 3 steps to earning interactive sales content
Business intelligence, whether through historical or real-time data, has become an indispensable tool in the modern marketing toolkit. Organizations at all stages of sales analytics maturity can benefit. What’s critical is that marketers expect their teams to use data to inform their efforts. In the early stages of business intelligence maturity, increased visibility into what works and what doesn’t will enable real-time tactical optimizations. While helpful, what makes business intelligence essential is that teams with a data-driven mindset can fundamentally optimize their product marketing, content marketing, and campaign strategies. Marketing strategy transformation can have long-term effects that span years and far-reaching impact that extends beyond marketing to the entire go-to-market organization.
How do you leverage business intelligence to develop your marketing strategies for the modern B2B buyer? Let us know on Facebook, Twitterand LinkedIn.