Data-driven marketers must look at everything from a data perspective —from the customer experience and how internal teams work to operational inefficiencies and strategizing with C-Suite decision makers. As a marketing leader, when I speak with executives at Mercer, I always start with data. People relate to numbers – they understand sales figures, engagement ratios, gains, losses, and when a marketing strategy or investment is, or isn’t, paying off. Logical people see data as a source of truth. In my experience, communicating in truths is the most direct pathway to success.
By nature, marketers tend to excel at words, language and branding, but it is key for today’s Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) to embrace data, demand generation and the evolving impact of technological advances on every aspect of business, in every industry. Data allows marketers to, even in times of shrinking budgets, advocate for and justify greater investment in initiatives that—through data—can be clearly connected to increased revenue. This, of course, is not always easy to do. But it is in this space that modern marketers are finding unprecedented opportunities.
Data, Marketing and the B2B Sales Cycle
In the B2C universe, marketers control the conversation with the buyer and directly influence purchasing decisions and process. However, in the B2B world, the CMO and marketers own the initial phase of the process—identifying who is interested in the products and services and why, and then taking that key information forward. But, they must ultimately rely on the account manager to sell to the client, the end consumer. In B2B dynamics, it is more complex to tie the marketing strategy directly to revenue. Marketers must therefore explain the different ways marketing provides value—often found in these two important benefits:
1. Shortening the sales cycle. Marketing affords a better, deeper understanding of purchasing behaviors, shortening the sales cycle by more quickly identifying where people are in the sales funnel—including those who are further along and closer to fully engaging.
2. Highlighting touchpoints. Identifying the timing and context of engagements created by marketing efforts—from face-to-face meetings to generating online leads through emails, social media or websites—can be a complicated journey and a difficult story to tell. However, data-savvy CMOs are now more empowered than ever to demonstrate how those engagements of all types contribute to revenue and drive sales.
3. Quickly identifying hand-raisers. Social media, in particular, provides a tremendous opportunity for marketers to identify potential customers that are ready to buy, thus bypassing a number of steps in the sales process and expediting the process in introducing the prospect to a client manager. Social media, by its very nature creates a meaningful dialog among company and prospect.
The Four Types of Data Important to CMOs
Outside-In Data: There is a plethora of public data that is available to help marketers better understand market position and perception. By using market data, or what we call ‘outside-in’ data, we can impartially asses the value we are bringing to the marketplace and benchmark this against competitors.
"As the impact of technology continues to evolve, marketers are having to become more like technologists"
Buyer Data: Understanding the customer—how they interact with products and solutions and relate to campaigns and tactics—represents a valuable and revealing set of data that creative and strategic teams can use to inform marketing campaigns. This data drives a continuous process focused on improving and developing effective initiatives based on how our targets are reacting to our efforts.
Path-to-purchase Data: Personalized data, of course, can’t be sold, but amassing through all data touchpoints together and analyzing the information gathered from a spectrum of marketing efforts—such as surveys and other engagements—creates real value, especially in industries such as HR. A whole new element of data that Mercer currently underutilizes is how, exactly, consumers are using the technology that we sell. Today, we tend to rely entirely on consumer data instead of how people are actually interacting with us. That’s the next level data optimization for us. It’s exciting.
Revenue Data: Every meeting a CMO has with the C-Suite will lead to conversations about revenue, and data is the most direct and efficient means of steering those dialogues and ensuring they address the realities of the marketplace. Oftentimes, it is the CMO’s job to contextualize this data and—most importantly—explain how to commercialize data and harness its value. Today, there are incredible opportunities to commercialize data, especially if the data is agnostic.
How Data Creates Better Focus, Segmentation and Savings
Technology is about people, processes and data. As the impact of technology continues to evolve, marketers are having to become more like technologists. CMOs that understand data, know how to use it, and who can artfully talk about it, will lead the future of the profession. At Mercer, our teams conduct analysis through data visualization tools and transcribe and interpret that information into actionable data sets that inform the decision-making processes. This process begins with asking the questions like “What is the reporting element?” and “What is the data that is going to come out of it?”
This requires micro-strategies and tools that sit on top of this valuable data to pull out particular sets of information so people can visualize it in dynamic ways—allowing marketers to cut the data in specific ways, depending on their role and objectives. Everyone on Mercer’s marketing team is assigned simple metrics and KPIs and can directly access their data to track, via their own visualization tools and dashboards, how effectively they are meeting those assigned goals. For example, a country marketer or line of business marketer can see across their chosen parameters, including everything from various geographies to industry segments. The idea here is, the more we are able to visualize and contextualize information, the smarter and more efficient we become.
Smaller, Streamlined and More Valuable
In 2018, our marketing team did 27 percent fewer campaigns than in 2017—and nearly doubled our revenue contribution. We’ve become much more efficient and much more productive—all while reducing contact with customers by creating more value with each engagement. Instead of communicating through broad, imprecise campaigns, we are targeting customers through a streamlined and collective voice. Instead of sending everything to everyone in our contact database and hoping they like it, we’re able to segment and target customers at different stages in the buyer’s journey. Customized information focused on specific needs and concerns throughout the sales funnel garners more meaningful engagements. This is a transformative development in a complex company like Mercer, which provides a range of solutions—from outsourced investment services and delegated solutions to human capital management strategies and healthcare initiatives—to many companies. That’s a lot of journeys. Thankfully, data allows us to be there at every step of the way.
About the author
Amy Scissonshas over 20 years of experience leading and developing go-to-market strategies for firms across the globe, primarily in business-to-business finance, technology and consulting industries. Her areas of expertise include marketing strategy, demand generation, customer-centric digital/data-driven marketing, and leading high-performance teams. She is also accredited for the creation of Mercer’s largest content marketing platform, Voice on Growth, an online publication for senior HR and finance decision makers across the international marketplace.
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