Houston expert breaks down how B2B companies should leverage data for growth
When focusing on revenue growth in business to business companies, analyzing data to develop and optimize strategies is one of the biggest factors in sales and marketing success. However, the process of evaluating B2B data differs significantly from that of B2C, or business to consumer. B2C analysis is often straightforward, focusing on consumer behavior and e-commerce transactions.
Unlike B2C, where customers can make a quick purchase decision with a simple click, the B2B customer journey involves multiple touchpoints and extensive research. B2B buyers will most likely discover a company through an ad or a referral, then navigate through websites, interact with salespeople, and explore different resources before finally making a purchasing decision, often with a committee giving input.
Because a B2B customer journey through the sales pipeline is more indirect, these businesses need to take a more nuanced approach to acquiring and making sense of data.
The expectations of B2B vs. B2C
It can be tempting to use the same methods of analysis between B2C and B2B data. However, B2B decision-making requires more consideration. Decisions involving enterprise software or other significant business products or services investments are very different from a typical consumer purchase.
B2C marketing emphasizes metrics like conversion rates, click-through rates, and immediate sales. In contrast, B2B marketing success also includes metrics like lead quality, customer lifetime value, and ROI. Understanding the differences helps prevent unrealistic expectations and misinterpretations of data.
Data differences with B2B
While B2C data analysis often revolves around website analytics and foot traffic in brick and mortar stores, B2B data analysis involves multiple sources. Referrals play a vital role in B2B, as buyers often seek recommendations from industry peers or companies similar to theirs.
Data segmentation in B2B focuses more on job title and job function rather than demographic data. Targeting different audiences within the same company based on their roles — and highlighting specific aspects of products or services that resonate with those different decision-makers — can significantly impact a purchase decision.
The B2B sales cycle is longer because purchases typically involve the input of a salesperson to help buyers with education and comparison. This allows for teams to implement account-based marketing and provides for more engagement which increases the chances of moving prospects down the sales funnel.
Enhancing data capture in B2B analysis
Many middle-market companies rely heavily on individual knowledge and experience rather than formal data management systems. As the sales and marketing landscape has evolved to be more digital, so must business. Sales professionals can leave and a company must retain the knowledge of the buyers and potential buyers. CRM systems not only collect data, they also provide the history of customer relationships.
Businesses need to capture data at all the various touchpoints, including lead generation, prospect qualification, customer interactions, and order fulfillment. Regular analysis will help with accuracy. The key is to derive actionable insights from the data.
B2B data integration challenges
Integrating various data sources in B2B data analysis used to be much more difficult. With the advent of business intelligence software such as Tableau and Power BI, data analysis is much more accessible with a less significant investment. Businesses do need access to resources to effectively use the tools.
CRM and ERP systems store a wealth of data, including contact details, interactions, and purchase history. Marketing automation platforms capture additional information from website forms, social media, and email campaigns. Because of these multiple sources, connecting data points and cleansing the data is a necessary step in the process.
When analyzing B2B data for account based marketing (ABM) purposes, there are some unique considerations to keep in mind. Industries like healthcare and financial services, for instance, have specific regulations that dictate how a business can use customer data.
Leveraging B2B data analysis for growth
B2B data analysis is the foundation for any sales and marketing strategy. Collecting and using data from multiple sources allows revenue teams to uncover gaps, trends, and opportunities for continued growth.
Acknowledging what’s different about B2B data and tracking all of the customer journey touchpoints is important as a business identifies a target market, develops an ideal customer profile, and monitors their competitors. Insights from data also single out gaps in the sales pipeline, use predictive analytics for demand forecasting, and optimize pricing strategies.
This comprehensive approach gives B2B companies the tools they need to make informed decisions, accelerate their sales and marketing efforts, and achieve long-term growth in a competitive market.
Libby Covington is a Partner with Craig Group, a technology-enabled sales and marketing advisory firm specializing in revenue growth for middle-market, private-equity-backed portfolio companies.
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