Data drives decision-making in several industries. It provides cover, establishes trends, and points toward outlooks. So why, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, do 62% of executives rely on their experiences instead of empirical evidence?
The answer may reside in the data itself. Executives either don’t have the information they need, or it isn’t in a useful format.
There’s also the potential for too much data, not enough data, or — even worse — inaccurate data.
What’s more, the siloed structure many companies operate in means that data quickly becomes fragmented. Throw in a lack of resources with stodgy data processors, and it becomes next to impossible to make sense of the information.
No matter the circumstance, it leaves most people feeling overwhelmed and has led to many pain points for B2B marketers, some bigger than others.
The Thorn in Data’s Paw
Of all data’s pain points, unique identifiers may be the biggest.
On one side, you’ve got web-crawled, innovative, prospect-specific data, while traditional demographics (e.g. company name, phone number, tax codes, etc.) sit on the other.
The two sets may not match up, making it difficult to consolidate the data into unique identifiers.
Human error also poses some problems, as people will enter identical info into the database. What looks like two points is actually one, complicating the unique identifiers.
Any difficulties consolidating unique identifiers can erode confidence. When forced to adjust data, corporate buy-in can come into question. People need to be educated on how unique identifiers and human error play into each step of the B2B company and marketing processes.
People need to be educated on how unique identifiers and human error play into each step of the B2B company and marketing processes.
For instance, our company is using an enhanced data analytics platform to assist a client. It has 2,700 attributes across 20 million business companies, with all sorts of signals around growth, site traffic, likes, and shares. It has allowed them to key into which consumers best fit their target audience.
For better or worse, data helps figure out where a company sits in the marketplace. It shows the competitive set and growth potential, segments consumers, analyzes engagement, and targets ideal customers.
5 easy steps to get more out of your data
While data’s role continues to evolve, it’s important to be able to analyze its vast recesses to guide business decisions. The following can help ease pain points and leverage data for your B2B marketing efforts:
Pick a path
Failing to zero in on what you want to accomplish can leave you overwhelmed when looking at data. Decide what your endgame is, then decide whether you have the data to accomplish it.
Decide what your endgame is, then decide whether you have the data to accomplish it
If not, figure out what you need to do to collect or purchase it. Start simple, and expand out as you learn and see results.
Scrub down your database
Incomplete, inaccurate, irrelevant, and duplicate data can give you an incorrect picture of events and lead to bad decisions. Clean up your set, and get rid of redundancies.
Once that’s done, organize the data in a logical manner and look for any potential gaps. The objective is to turn data into analysis, insights, and action.
Be 80% sure
Feeling that there’s more interesting or valuable data available will never go away. Keep trying to get better data, but don’t let suspicions delay progress.
Look for correlations you feel at least 80 percent comfortable with.Work with your data, tap other resources that can look across markets, and find relative comparisons that allow you to make a case for your decisions.
Enlist the right team
You’ll always want to look at something else to help you understand why you’re seeing a dip in performance. That’s not always realistic with the data available.
Encourage staff to grow more comfortable analyzing data and projecting where it fits in
Instead, utilize your smart analysts. Empower them and trust in their expertise to bring you correlations relevant to your questions. Encourage staff to grow more comfortable analyzing data and projecting where it fits in. As your team becomes more skilled in doing so, data can continue to enhance your marketing protocol.
Find the fear source
Why are people not as comfortable with data? Do they need to spend more time thinking about its value? Are they creative types who need to free themselves of mental blocks when looking at numbers and data?
Find the reason and quell their apprehension.
After all, marketing isn’t just developing advertisements. You’ll use spreadsheets most of the time to determine relationships between entities, so data will help you focus your efforts and see ROI.
Help people understand that data is a means to an end.
Without it, decision-making is like throwing a dart at a bull’s-eye. No matter how skilled the player, there’s still a matter of luck involved.
Don’t fear data. It can provide answers to the most difficult of your B2B marketing choices.