The enthusiasm for data-driven marketing is widespread, but most businesses still find themselves early in the implementation phase. For example, there is widespread agreement on the importance of market intelligence as the foundation for decision-making throughout the organization. However, that remains more aspiration than a reality. eMarketer reported that more than 90% of marketers consider it important to have “a single view of the customer,” yet less than 10% have developed such a solution . Similarly, data-driven decision-making is not yet ingrained into the culture of many organizations - PwC found that 61% of executives describe their organizations as only “rarely” or “somewhat” data-driven .
Today, leading business-to-business (B2B) decision-makers are leveraging four key strategies for success in data-driven marketing.
1. Think category-building before brand promotion.
Marketers are trained to be customer-centric, but in reality, often view things from their own perspective. They forget the obvious - business decision-makers, like everyone else, focus on their own needs, and as a result, will tend to think about solutions before brands. In contrast, you (and everyone around you) think about your business all day – giving you an inflated perception about how top-of-mind your brand is in the marketplace.
Growing your presence in the early stages of a customer’s decision-making means outstanding solution-oriented content that builds the category, rather than trumpets your brand per se. Consider that research on B2B decision-makers by Google shows that...
71% start their research with a non-branded searchThey average 12 searches (and are more than halfway down the funnel) before interacting with a branded site
The takeaway is another marketing truism: You need a deep understanding of what customers want - their pain points, their information gaps, their current imperfect solutions, and so on . Digitally, this means a deep understanding of how they search, which has become more nuanced than just what keywords they use - it means understanding the latest search trends, including the growing tendency to ask questions in search, and to use personalized contextual phrases such as “near me” and “should I.”
2. Move from content marketing to thought leadership.
There is, literally, more content published than ever before, with more being added every day. Amid the clutter, the bar has been raised on what it takes to cut through, and there is an emerging trend of emphasizing the quality of content over quantity. Many have come to believe that a White Paper of depth and substance will have more impact than a handful of data-dump (but keyword-dense) blog posts, even though the latter are sometimes easier for quantifying attribution. Data, particularly in a competitive context, is crucial throughout the process of developing thought leadership that has an impact in the marketplace . Data guides content development (e.g., understanding what content performs best for competitors), and carries through to measuring KPIs in a competitive context (e.g., page views, downloads, shares, conversion rates, etc.)
3. Ramp up your video content.
Video content could win the award for “longest period of time hyped as ‘the next big thing’ while not actually becoming the next big thing.” Visitors to branded websites have continued to keep the video content at arm’s length for a variety of reasons (laggy, low-quality, data-hogging, inconvenient audio – pick one). Now we are reaching a tipping point in online engagement with video, both among consumers and B2B decision makers.
Google found that 70% of B2B decision-makers watch video content throughout the path to purchase, up 52% over two years, with almost half watching 30 minutes or more during their research process. Generational factors come into play as well, with Millennials being particularly open to video, and they are influential in B2B purchases far beyond what many might expect.
4. Look at LinkedIn.
Much is written about the Google/Facebook advertising duopoly, and while LinkedIn can’t match their volume of visits, its advertising revenue is on the rise because of its affluent consumer base and B2B strengths. Its reach and engagement metrics are rising too. Our SimilarWeb data show that LinkedIn.com consistently pulls in a billion visits a month; over the past two years, their unique visitors and pages per visit are up about 10%, while bounce rates have dropped. Their app is up across metrics, including downloads, daily active users, and usage time.
When it comes to digital advertising, context matters, and LinkedIn’s experience lends itself to B2B marketing. It reaches the right people (business decision-makers) in the right digital context (surrounded high-quality highly-relevant content) while they are in the right mental context (in a “business-oriented” frame of mind). Little wonder that it has been reported that ads running on the LinkedIn Audience Network outperform those same ads when run elsewhere.