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Data-driven marketing for B2B: Three lessons from the B2C world

The consumer world has been using data to inform selling and marketing decisions for many years. For instance, the retail industry uses loyalty cards to encourage repeat purchases as well as a tool to collect data from customers and provide them with relevant offers to increase sales. This concept traces all the way back to the 18th century and remains a key cornerstone in B2C marketing today – from frequent flier programs to stamp-based loyalty cards at your local coffee shop.

On the other hand, the B2B world has been slower in adopting and applying these strategies, though it all starts with the fundamental process of collecting, managing, and analyzing data to derive useful insights that can drive smarter marketing decisions.

Make it personal
For the first time in 14 years, Coca Cola achieved a growth in sales volume thanks to its “Share a Coke” campaign that fed into consumer preference for personalisation and customised products. There is no doubt that personalization is no longer just a clever marketing tactic, but one of the only ways to truly capture customer loyalty. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2018, B2B e-commerce sites with personalised features will outsell those that do not offer a personalised experience by 30 per cent .

In the B2B world, audience numbers are smaller and sales cycles typically longer and more complex. This gives B2B marketers the opportunity to get to know their customers even better. Look beyond the typical checklist of information like age, job title, and company size. Instead, dive deep and get to grips with more personal information like past experiences, job functions, professional pain points, and decision-making hierarchies. These are the meaningful data points and insights that will allow you to deliver more targeted and personalised campaigns.

Don’t be afraid to get emotional
Too often, B2B audiences are reduced to rhetoric like “leads” and “accounts” and this results in marketing campaigns that focus only on amplifying product features, while neglecting to address the buyers’ emotional needs. On the other hand, B2C marketers are much more adept at evoking emotions and forging a personal bond with their target audience. Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign sparked a 1000 per cent increase in brand passion , while Apple’s “Think Different” campaign remains one of the most iconic branding strategies in the technology world and beyond.

Despite the broad assumption that B2B buying is less emotionally-charged, research by Gartner shows that emotions matter twice as much as logic in B2B buying decisions as these purchases typically involve higher personal stakes like productivity, credibility, and job security.

The question is, how does data play a role in emotional marketing? According to Harvard Business Review, it is possible to target the feelings that drive customer behavior through rigorous measurements and the application of big data analytics to identify emotional motivators driving customer behavior . This is a largely untapped potential that both B2B and B2C marketers should start paying attention to.

From omni-channel to omni-present
According to Econsultancy, 80 per cent of B2B buying decision are now made before the customer engages a sales representative , illustrating the need to have a robust branding strategy across all customer touchpoints. Data can increase the efficacy of an omni-channel strategy by enabling a 360-degree view of the customer, allowing you to meet expectations at every touchpoint. Better yet, those at the forefront of innovation have gone a step further by creating new channels for customers to interact with.

Case in point, by aggregating data from its 3.9 million-strong digital banking user base performing 1.2 million transactions daily , DBS group was able to develop an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot that allows customers to use natural language to carry out transactions in real time via Facebook messenger. Similarly, OCBC launched a specialized home and renovation loan chatbot, which has reportedly converted more than 10 per cent of chat sessions into mortgage loan sales prospects.

There is a whole new word of opportunities out there for B2B marketers and we really don’t have to look far for inspiration. Just think about your favorite consumer brand and consider how you can apply the same approach to connect with your customers, using data analytics to guide the way.

Daniel Ng

Daniel Ng is the Senior Director of Marketing, APAC at Cloudera.
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