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Using data is a vital part of b2b marketing, which has helped data marketing as a trend to blow up over the last couple of years – look at your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feed and you’re bound to see an advert promoting some kind of market research paper or in-depth industry analysis.
As the name suggests, data marketing is an approach which shapes strategies through consumer and market insights and analysis and, to be honest, its massive uptake is unsurprising. Using data to shape content was, and still is, a huge part of any brand’s marketing activities, but it has left nearly every industry saturated with content – most of which struggles for visibility. To combat this, there has been a huge push towards SEO, which has done wonders for improving Google’s search algorithms but not much for the visibility of the majority of brands. After all, there can only be one first result!
As such, marketing teams are now diving into data like never before, trying to understand the ins and outs of their target market by analysing every excruciating detail so they can stand out from the crowd. Brands are being offered ‘insightful’ data left and right, and marketing teams are biting.
Engagement strategies: too much data is sinking your creativity
There’s a huge sense of irony around data marketing. B2b marketers are pouring through heaps of data (and cash) to find out more about their target audiences and how to best engage with them, but by doing this, a void is being created because they aren’t considering human level interactions. Having a business as your customer makes it easy to forget that individuals are the ones engaging with the content. Though a particular piece of content you create could appeal to the target company in a general sense, it may not appeal to the decision makers who you want to engage with. Falling into this trap often makes b2b content much more sales driven compared to b2c.
Forgetting about the human motivators of decision-makers at your target companies is also leading to a creative slump in strategy. By focusing too much on the data – such as creating generic b2b personas for people like Joe Bloggs who’s aged between 25-50 and goes to Costa – businesses are using up their resources on tick-box tasks that often waste time and slow b2b marketing innovation. Instead, by focusing on customer pain points and the solution you can provide to aid them, businesses can open the door to meaningful, one-on-one conversations which in turn can lead to new business.
Internal data: the hunt for ROI is leaving your department dry
Proving ROI is a notoriously difficult task for PR and marketing teams. According to Muck Rack, C-level executives determine budgets 55% of the time and they are often the people chasing marketers to show the worth of their work. This means marketers are having to focus more on ticking boxes, data analysis and putting together monthly reports (or god-forbid, weekly!), instead of focussing on providing value to the end consumer.
What’s more, 61% of PR pros are concerned about budgets tightening in the future. So, instead of focussing on the data behind delivering ROI, it would make more sense to focus on objectives. Bringing objectives to the front of mind can help marketers and senior management realign what they want to get out of marketing. Are newly retained customers a goal? What about brand awareness? Instead of focusing on a mass of meaningless vanity metrics like clicks or likes, look at the key metrics which show how successful targeted marketing strategies are.
Of course, showing that your marketing efforts are heading in the right direction is important. Optimising campaigns make them more efficient and can bring additional leads through the door. Instead of focussing on vanity metrics, for example, likes and followers, objective-based metrics like site conversions, changes in the number of brand and competitor mentions and increases in brand searches, can provide useful data that shows the direction of marketing efforts.
What’s next for data marketing?
Data marketing isn’t going away anytime soon, and nor should it. In the last 3-5 years, we’ve seen the core focus of many marketers evolve from content marketing, to SEO, to data marketing. This hasn’t meant the previous methods have become redundant, in fact, it’s about finding the right balance. In the next 12 months we can envision the face of data marketing shifting away from vanity metrics that marketers have less control over (for example total likes and impressions), and more towards objective based metrics, which we can optimise for. Market research will also become more niche as generalisations around larger market groups become more public, less trusted and less beneficial to companies.
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To make sure you’re making the most of you data marketing and not just doing it to follow a trend, here are three things to ask yourself:
- Pain points – what problems are your target audience facing and how can you resolve them?
- Objectives – what do you want to get out of your marketing efforts and how can you measure this?
- Person first interactions – why would your marketing efforts appeal to the decision maker at your target company? How can you stand out in their eyes?
Want to find out how we use data marketing effectively in our PR and marketing services? Drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Contact Us page.
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