Leverage Connected Data Across the B2B Buyer’s Journey

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The future of B2B content marketing will be driven by data. More and more businesses will demand that marketers use data across the buyer’s journey to deliver a more personalized, more consistent, more effective customer experiences. For some, that time has already come. For others, it’s simply a question of when the organization is ready to make the investment in resources and budget to make it happen. For you, now’s the time to understand how connected data – data that pulls together a wealth of insights into a personalized experience – can work for you.

I was at Oracle OpenWorld 2019 and was able to sit in on the session “Leveraging Connected Data Across the Marketing Lifecycle” presented by Robin Opie, Group Vice President, Data Science, Oracle Data Cloud; and Steve Earl, Senior Director Product Marketing, Oracle Cloud Business Group. The session provided some eye-opening insights on how businesses seem to know everything about you, as a consumer or business buyer, as you engage with their brands, and how you can do the same with your buyers.

Here’s a brief synopsis of what Opie and Earl covered.

The Struggle to Deliver a More Complete Buyer Experience

Almost all our clients struggle to get the complete picture of their B2B buyers. There’s a ton of data out there, but unfortunately, most of it is disconnected. B2B brands are trying to get a handle on delivering a truly connected buyer experience. According to Opie and Earl, “Achieving a true connected data experience requires connecting all customer intelligence across all interactions to deliver consistent, timely and relevant experiences at each and every moment.”

This connected data combines data from third-party sources as well as proprietary customer data you already have in house.

Earl noted that connected data helps you understand the buyer as an individual. Right in line with what Content4Demand preaches every day, he emphasized that the data has to be customer-centric. But how do you understand the buyer before engagement? And how do you get a full picture when interaction today is non-linear and often spread across different devices?

A key message is that what we know evolves slowly as the buyer engages with our brand.

Getting Insights Even Before Your Buyer Engages

Before engagement, we can tap into three bits of data. The first is intent and interest data. Here, you can purchase third-party data that tracks online behavior as buyers search for solutions. These buyers may be expressing interest before they land on your site or engage with you through another avenue.

Once you gather this data, you can move to the second bit of data: lookalike modeling. At this stage, you are beginning to understand the type of buyer and, as Earl noted, closing the gap between intuition and data.

The third piece of data is context. If you know, from a broader standpoint, what the buyer is looking for, you can present your ads or content at the best time and avoid the wrong time. For example, you don’t want to have a banner ad or social message for your financial services offerings pop up near an article about a data breach.

These three bits of data, Earl explained, help you create the best first impression.

An entire industry has grown around supplying this kind of anonymized data. Last year, Oracle acquired DataFox, an artificial intelligence (AI) data engine that continuously extracts company-level data and signals. By integrating this third-party data with your own data, you can start to build lookalike models.

The lookalike model uses machine learning – which does a much better job than we mere mortals at developing a profile. It then gives you an equation of what types of firmographics and behavior look like your target audience.

Personalize the Buyer Experience at Engagement

Again, data can help you personalize the content you deliver once your buyers engage with you. All that information about where your buyers are going online, the transactions they make, what devices they’re using is being collected – the creep factor. The higher the quality of your data, the more correct matches to your buyers or target accounts you’ll get.

Leveraging Data Doesn’t Stop at a Closed/Won Deal

Once a buyer becomes a customer, connected data can help you build brand loyalty, retention and additional sales. With the data you can collect on your customers, you can optimize your conversations. Today we can go beyond sending out emails on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Now we can track behavior to know that our buyer is opening email on a smartphone during lunchtime. We can also use the insights we’ve collected to determine the next best offer.

As the presenters noted, the “magic” comes from combining third-party and first-party data. And the key to getting the best results is starting with the highest quality data possible. DataFox is just one example of a source that can help you. It will give you firmographic data, previous company purchases, intent data and more.

If your company isn’t yet ready to go this deep into leveraging connected data, you can still deliver a better customer experience by beginning with research-supported personas, buyer-centric messaging and good tracking of how your buyers are consuming your content.

As you are able, start taking steps to become an increasingly connected data-driven organization. Wherever you are in your path to connected data, we can help you flesh out your content strategy and content marketing execution. Contact Holly Celeste Fisk at holly@content4demand.com to see how Content4Demand can partner with you.

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