The lofty goal of raising the profile of marketing in our organizations requires that modern B2B marketers set very high bars—for themselves and their departments:
“Owning the full customer experience.”
“Proving marketing ROI to leadership.”
“Driving higher revenue through marketing alone.”
“Creating agile marketing infrastructures the fail fast, learn and optimize on the fly.”
Truly sophisticated marketers know that the path to a seat at the executives’ table relies on two things: proving marketing’s economic value and actively improving marketing capabilities with authority and resources. But for far too many of us, there’s just one hitch.
Marketers are consistently denied access to the customer data they need because the data is siloed away and scattered throughout a maze of multiple internal owners.
It’s not their problem. It’s yours.
Your target—the ability to drive the exact right, personalized message to the right buyer at the right phase of his or her buy cycle at the right moment on the right device; and to capture, measure and optimize each of those interactions all the way through the sale and customer LTV—requires an enormous amount of data and tracking integrations across the enterprise.
Whew! And the systems where that customer data is stored?
- Across your marketing technology stack (CMS, MAP, DMP, DSP, etc.), which needs solid integration with your CRM, and which may be owned by IT or by sales.
- Your website, which may or may not be owned by marketing, and which must be properly tagged and accessible to the rest of the stack.
- Your customer purchase data sitting in your ERP, which is usually integrated with neither your martech stack nor your sales team’s CRM.
If these three sets of customer data do not live in a central customer data platform (that would be ideal) or aren’t at least synced via APIs, the B2B marketer is left with an expensive martech stack that is really just a glorified email marketing suite with some basic retargeting and account-specific displays.
While we can’t tell you exactly why your organization may be stalled for want of key customer data, we can tell you that many companies are stuck in this particular driveway for two simple reasons:
- Non-marketing customer data owners have zero incentive to make their data available to marketers and believe they’ll face potential risk if they do so and something goes wrong; and
- Senior leadership hasn’t grappled with the fact that expensive marketing SaaS platforms cannot “automatically” make marketing measurable or create personalized customer experiences, and that the organizational change necessary to do so requires personally spent political capital to achieve.
Solving this puzzle demands relentless marketing evangelism.
If you are walled off from the data your marketing team needs, you need a smart lobbying plan, a strong business case and pounds of persistence.
1. Creating your plans.
If you are going to get a bunch of customer data owners to the table to commit to a lengthy data integration effort that will provide them with little to no benefit, you’re going to need more than flowers. You need executive sponsorship. Identify senior executives who have specific, known goals for the organization and build a lobbying plan and business case tailored to each of them.
2. Building your cases.
Here are some data points for a set of common executive preoccupations:
“We need to improve our customer experience.”
- 65% of B2B buyers list inconsistent buying experience as their biggest frustration.1
- 89% of brands with strong omnichannel experiences retain customers compared to 33% with weak experiences.2
- Companies that provide tightly aligned marketing and sales process for buyers experience a 24% increase in growth rate.3
“We need to avoid being commoditized.”
- B2B buyers are 800% more likely to pay more for an “emotionally resonant” premium product over a standard one.4 Data allows us to create those connections individually.
- More than 50% of B2B buyers prefer personalization (in marketing leveraging data) and it ranks as a top decision criteria.5
- 71% of B2B buyers would switch supplies if offered a better digital experience.6 This requires all available customer data to be fully integrated.
“We need to do more with less.”
- B2B buyers are 70% of the way through a buy cycle before engaging sales.7 This allows data-driven marketing automation to reduce human interactions without negatively affecting the customer journey.
- B2B brands that integrated closed-loop reporting and optimization realize a 18% lift in revenue.8 Again, integrated customer data is a must-have.
- The typical B2B buyer uses six different channels throughout the buy cycle.9 Data-driven marketing allows marketers to target customers on their preferred channels more efficiently via IP and account targeting.
3. Get in front of your target executives.
There’s no getting around the final stage. You need face time. Butter up executive assistants. Make connections, especially with your CIO, CTO and other stakeholders in your IT department. Remember: They aren’t the bad guys here. Their jobs are to keep company data safe. Data management is scary for those entrusted to manage it. Find out who comes in early or stays late. Stalk them if you have to.
Pictured: our legal department, probably.
Finding 10 minutes to make your pitch in that person's terms and then present a clear vision of how this integrated data world could come to fruition if only someone put her or his stamp behind it.
If you make traction, make the ask for the executive sponsorship of a data integration initiative. Reiterate the benefits for the enterprise using the arguments most in line with your target’s priorities, then make it clear that success is unlikely without him or her.
Come up short? Don’t be afraid to ask why and probe if there is anything you could do to help make it a priority. No dice? Move on to your next executive.
Overcoming these challenges as a marketer is undeniably difficult. Yet, without it, there is simply no path to the future you’ve worked so hard to realize.
Need someone to have your back through the process? We’re always happy to chat.
Forrester Research, Inc., Customer Data Should Be The Lifeblood Of Your Enterprise. June 2014.
McKinsey & Company, Do you really understand how your business customers buy? February 2015.
- McKinsey & Company, Do you really understand how your business customers buy? February 2015.
- Aberdeen Group, Omni-channel Customer Care: Empowered Customers Demand a Seamless Experience. October 2013.
- SiriusDecisions, Inc., B-to-B Confidence Index Study. May 2014.
- Google, From Promotion to Emotion. October 2013.
- Accenture, Building the B2B Omnichannel Commerce Platform of the Future. November 2014.
- CEB and Google, The digital evolution of B2B marketing. 2012.