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INFOGRAPHIC: Technology is NOT a Substitute for Strategy
The investment in marketing technology is exploding. In fact, 70% of marketing executives plan to spend more on martech this year. And while marketers typically justify martech purchases by reasoning that each nifty new tool will make marketing easier, faster and better, the rapid proliferation of applications being used by organizations is fueling more chaos than order.
While martech is a critical enabler that can provide real competitive advantages, it’s not a surrogate for all of your marketing efforts – and certainly should not replace your foundational strategy.
Don’t Forget the Who, What, When, Why and Where of Marketing Strategy
Way too many marketers are focusing on the how before focusing on the who, what, when, where and why. It’s important to get these right before building your marketing technology stack.
- Who? Are you fully confident with the way you determined this? Do you fully understand your target audience’s needs and how your company can help?
- What? Think about your business goals and how your marketing objectives ladder up to those.
- When? Do you understand the appropriate time to engage your audience and deliver the right message?
- Where? Understand where your prospects and customers are most likely to engage with your brand and where it will be most effectively target your audience.
- Why? Are you focusing on certain messages and tactics over others? How do you know they will resonate with your audience?
How to Sell Over the Phone: 5 Quick & Helpful Tips
Even in the digital age of email and text messages, the cold-call remains the one constant from the bygone era of sales. It’s the direct line to a potential customer. And if handled correctly, can turn a prospect into a buyer.
Even though salespeople rely on the cold call to get in front of their prospects, buyers are not rushing to answer. They are inundated with calls every day, as much as 32 a week in the UK, according to our recent research study.
That’s why Dun & Bradstreet compiled some simple Do’s and Don’ts to help keep buyers from hanging up. Be sure to follow these steps when planning your next outreach strategy.
Dun & Bradstreet did the research and discovered why buyers are hanging up. Here are some things you should and should NOT do if you want to accelerate your B2B sales
1) Don’t Call Before You’ve Done Your Research
With as many as 32 cold calls a week in the UK alone, the last thing a buyer wants is a salesperson who hasn’t done their homework.
29% of buyers said failing to do basic company research was their biggest pet peeve, when asked what bothers them the most when receiving a bad sales call.
Do: Take the time to get to know your prospect before you call them up.
2) Don’t be Aggressive
Forget what you learned from highschool chearleaders. Customers tend to business with people they link and don’t want to feel bullied.
80% of buyers claim aggressive salespeople not only turn them off but have caused them to not make a purchase.
Do: Find out your prospect’s challenges and offer a solution.
3) Don’t Sell to the Wrong Buyers
You probably don’t think you’re selling to the wrong audience when you’re nailing your pitch, but it turns out a lot of salespeople are.
57% of salespeople say it’s a challenge understanding exactly who their target audience is, given that the average salesperson conducts two hours of research per customer.
Do: Use data and analytics to learn about your audience, find the best prospects, and target more efficiently.
4) Don’t Skimp on the Extras
This may be a blow to your ego, but buyers admit to relying on a lot more than a salesperson when making purchasing decisions.
22% of buyers rely on external recommendations, and 13% rely on reading content to help formulate a solid evaluation and make a purchase.
Do: Work closely with marketing to help create content that can fuel more sales.
5) Do Take This Advice to Heart
If you want to up your sales game and close more business, you’ll need to get on the same page as your buyers. For help accelerating sales, understanding your prospects, targeting more effectively, and closing more deals, sign up for a free trial of D&B Hoovers today.
Infographic: Data Activation is Helping B2B Firms Drive Better Results
How Tearing Down Data Silos Can Unlock Your Data’s True Value
Today’s B2B buyers expect fast, consistent, and personalized experiences. At the same time, their buying journey is nonlinear and inclusive of many different stakeholders along the way. To manage the complexity of serving the modern B2B buyer, marketers and sellers are relying on customer data and analytics to guide their strategies. As B2B organizations set their marketing and sales priorities for the next 12 months, increasing their use of data and analytics is at the top of their list.
Customer Data Should Guide B2B Marketing Strategy
Taking actions from customer data and insights to improve marketing and sales outcomes is a complex undertaking. B2B marketing and sales leaders must fight through that complexity, along with their internal and external partners. To remain competitive, they must take iterative, effective steps to implement the technology, processes, and best practices for taking customer-facing actions from sales and marketing data. The bar is that high. However, while there is no shortage of data or attention to this matter, marketing and sales decisions are still just as likely to be made on gut feeling as on data and campaign analysis.
Data Activation Defined
Data activation is the process of unlocking value from customer data through the development of insights that inform specific sales and marketing actions. Being able to effectively activate data means taking all the information that resides across various systems like CRMs, DMPs and other disparate database platforms and aggregating the data to help guide a single-focused, unified sales and marketing strategy. Without a proper data activation process in place, otherwise valuable data often goes unused and becomes worthless over time.
Earlier this year, Dun and Bradstreet commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate data activation practices across the B2B space. In surveying 500 B2B professionals about their data strategy and management, the study found that while all firms face significant challenges in converting their B2B customer data into actionable insight, a portion of respondents who are using more mature data practices are seeing significant impact across marketing, sales, and customer goals.
B2B Firms Struggle to Activate Data
- Only half of marketing and sales decisions are based on data. Variation in data quality and consistency overall and across departments are common problems that erode trust and make decision makers gun-shy about using their customer data over their own intuition.
- B2B marketers and sellers lack complete and accurate data. They need data that is consistent across activities and technologies and that they can convert to insights quickly to meet customer needs. However, data gaps are a problem, as a US VP in financial services highlighted, “We don’t have enough data to fully make decisions.”
- B2B customers expect more than ever. Meeting customers’ rising expectations is harder than ever. B2B marketers and sellers must use data to deliver rapid fulfillment and to provide greater product and service knowledge in the right ways and at the right times.
- Poor data management stands in the way of firms’ achievement of marketing and sales objectives. Data management challenges cause a ripple effect that blocks achievement of marketing and sales objectives: Firms fail to improve their abilities to develop actionable insights, create and implement one-on-one targeted engagement strategies, and provide personalized experiences across channels.
- Lack of executive sponsorship and mature data analytics capabilities hold firms back. Support from the top is critical, and only half of firms reported that their company’s top executives view data and analytics as a strategic capability and primary area of focus.
- Firms need customer data they can trust. Only 49% of B2B marketers and sellers said their organization was effective at providing customer data they can fully trust to be complete and accurate.
It’s clear that to effectively serve the evolving and increasingly digital-first needs of the B2B buyer, marketers and sellers need actionable insights that can only be fostered through a strategic data activation approach.
Four Key Actions for Data Activation Success
- Engaging partners for data and analytics services
- Organizing with an insights center of excellence
- Embracing advanced analytics
- Establishing and using systems of insight
Check out the infographic to explore some of the common challenges we uncovered in the study that must be overcome for B2B organizations to unlock data’s true value.
The Data-Inspired Guide to Email Marketing
B2B Email Marketing Best Practices
According to our primary research, 85% of B2B marketers cite email marketing as their top tactic used to drive account-based marketing (ABM) efforts. So, you may think it is a perfected practice, but we receive daily requests from customers asking for email marketing best practices and ways to improve their results. The email game continues to change and new findings are always being revealed. Follow these tips to ensure your campaigns garner strong results and generate the optimal amount of leads for your marketing and sales teams.
Segment Your Audience
Sending a generic email out to a large list of random prospects will only get you marked as junk and result in a ton of opt-outs. Email segmentation and targeting are among the most difficult marketing tasks but they can yield the greatest rewards when done properly. Knowing exactly who your ideal audience is will also help you create targeted messaging that can help drive conversion.
Use Quality Data
You can spend hours creating engaging content and eye-catching images for your campaigns, but if you don’t leverage the most clean, accurate data to build your B2B email lists, you will be left with a high bounce rate, low deliverability, and a reduced ROI. That being said, you do have to set realistic expectations when it comes to increasing email marketing deliverability. Yes, it can be discouraging to receive a large number of bouncebacks, but it’s important to note that according to Constant Contact, the average bounce rate can be anywhere between 6% and 13% depending on the industry. That’s why the data and messaging you use is so vital.
Watch Your Image-to-Text Ratio
In order to increase higher open rates and your campaign’s effectiveness, try to use a ratio of 80% text to 20% image. Sure, image and design elements can make an email look modern and sleek, but they should be used sparingly if you want to keep your deliverability rates high.
Check Those Links
Avoid using shortened links (such as Bitly) in the body of your email. You can always hyperlink text, but make sure the hyperlink you use is the full URL. Spam filters check your URLs, so be sure to link to reputable, safe sites.
Quick Email Marketing Tip: Don’t forget the unsubscribe link! Giving recipients the ability to opt out of your emails is a requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act. Plus, weeding out those who aren’t interested allows you to spend your time, and money, on the audiences who have the highest propensity to buy.
Get to the Point
As marketers, we know better than anyone what it’s like to be inundated with emails and offers. That’s why it’s so critical to create targeted, concise messages that speak directly to your audience. Don’t waste their time with overly florid language and empty promises. Tell them exactly what you want them to know. Are you entering them into an email nurture campaign with the hope of selling them a tool or service? Tell them.
Make sure you entice readers to stay with relevant content, honest messaging, and a way to contact you if they’re interested in learning more information than your email copy provides. It’s also tempting to include a copious amount of calls to action (CTAs), but sticking to one primary ask of your audience will likely result in higher click-through rates and better conversions.
Skip the Aggressive Email Subject Lines
One of our team members recently received an email from a retail brand that said “DO NOT DELETE” in the subject line. Not only did that make her distrust its origins, but she also felt it was quite off-putting and not very descriptive.
Sending emails with overly aggressive subject lines and phrases (such as, "Act Now!") can severely compromise your email deliverability and your brand’s reputation. Instead, focus on copy that will catch your buyer’s eye in a positive way. Be forthcoming about what’s in the email, and skip the excessive exclamation points.
B2B Email Marketing Examples — What to Include:
- A high-resolution banner image
- Clear, relevant banner copy
- Professional, clean template that is easy to read
- Web-friendly font
- Body copy that is engaging, informative, and concise
- A clear call-to-action link or button (one or two max) that directs readers towards the action you want them to take
Maintain Your Sales and Marketing Data
Data management should not only occur before you hit send. You have to regularly maintain your database to achieve an optimal ROI. This will allow you to fuel your efforts with reliable marketing data. Did you know that in the next 60 minutes, 767 CEO or ownership changes will occur, 673 new businesses will open their doors, and 271 businesses will move? You can do the math on how important it is to keep your data updated.
Where do you begin? A free Data HealthScan from Dun & Bradstreet will help you identify the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to your current data.
Want to read the rest of the Data-Inspired Guide to Email Marketing?
Automatically Updated Enterprise Data
Use Reliable Data to Make Sure Information is Updated and Accurate
Have you ever heard the terms known unknowns or known knowns?
They are among four key concepts in the “Johari window,” a framework used in government and business that was originally created in the 1950s to help facilitate a better understanding of interpersonal relationships.
In the business world, known knowns – things we know we know – are easy to act on and are the foundation of our work lives. They’re what make up our to-do lists, based on our confirmed understanding about our business.
On the other hand, known unknowns – things we know we don’t know – are not as easy to resolve, but they too are a constant in business. Transforming known unknowns into known knowns helps inform our decision-making and guide our actions.
Here are some examples that illustrate known unknowns:
- This account could be huge. Why don’t we have more revenue coming from them?
- I spend too much time chasing invoices. Why are some vendors so slow in paying us?
- I am sure there are other people who influence purchasing. Who are they?
- This new account seems solid. Can I get it past finance approval and are their terms appropriate?
- I think my supply chain is reliable, but how do I stress-test it?
These are the types of questions that surface for business professionals every day. While we do our best to answer these questions and move forward with business decisions, what complicates the equation is that no business is static. People change roles; lawsuits are filed; businesses move, merge, and shut their doors; and financial circumstances change.
Just how rapidly those changes occur might surprise you. According to Dun & Bradstreet data, in the next 60 minutes:
- 193 business addresses will change
- 692 new businesses will launch
- 599 phone numbers will change or be disconnected
- 1,021 businesses will have a suit, lien, or judgment filed against them
- 90 companies will change their names
- 12 businesses will file for bankruptcy
With this much change happening all the time, how on earth can anyone keep up? It’s a challenge, and it negatively affects people across your organization. Marketing efficiency plummets. Sales misses targets. Finance makes bad decisions. Making sure your team has accurate and accessible enterprise data can be key to mitigating these unfavorable outcomes.
Dun & Bradstreet’s Live Business Identity can help. When a change to any of our 300 million-plus business records is detected from over 5,000 sources, Live Business Identity is updated, including firmographics and predictive indicators; we make 5 million such updates each day.
In fact, we might even help you shed light on your known unknowns. Imagine your team getting answers to some of these important questions. By using our data, your data is transformed into a living, breathing, constantly updated resource, allowing your teams to improve marketing ROI, increase sales efficiency, manage risk, and accelerate revenue.
Let us help turn your known unknowns into known knowns.
4Cs of Credit for Portfolio Analytics
The New 4Cs of Credit: The Power of Portfolio Analytics
Most every business credit professional knows about the 4Cs of Credit – how character, capacity, condition, and capital are used to evaluate the financial risk of an applicant. Today, modern finance organizations should consider adhering to four new tenets, the 4Cs of credit for portfolio analytics.
Portfolio analytics (or portfolio analysis) is the strategic process of segmenting your customer base for review, analysis, and action. Segmentation can be by geographic region, industry, account size, business unit, or whichever is of value to your business; the insight gleaned from review provides a “big picture” view of your risk landscape. This knowledge-based approach to credit risk management provides organizations with an opportunity to effectively drive operational processes, enable strategic advantage, and ultimately place it in a position to enhance and drive profitable business results.
Finance and credit professionals have the unique capability of providing an introspective, insightful view of the behavior, characteristics, and profile of their customer base. This detail, when acted upon, is the foundation for confident decision-making and data-driven change in the credit and corporate realm.
How Customer Portfolio Analysis Can Drive Revenue
Credit portfolio analysts who do analyze their portfolio as a whole endorse the process because they’ve recognized the insight and the hidden, unique value such analysis offers. As a substantial business enabler, portfolio analytics allow credit professionals to create value and ultimately position themselves, their organization, and their companies for success. Here’s how: By analyzing the customer portfolio – whether for operational reasons, critical purposes, or both – a company that adjusts their behavior by one percent, one half of one percent, or even a quarter of one percent will significantly alter their company’s bottom line performance. Clearly, such diligence can easily pay for itself in a very short time.
The 4 C's of Credit for Portfolio Analytics:
Consistency – in the credit applications. Aggregation and segmentation of portfolio data lays the foundation for more strategic decision-making at all levels of an organization. A comprehensive portfolio analysis enables credit managers to implement a sound practice for establishing standards and timing for account reviews. This data-driven consistency also allows for the most unbiased credit decisions: enabling an objective approach for raising and lowering credit limits and eliminating the potential for subjectivity by person or a difference in output based on experience.
Compliance – with internal and external audit relationships. For example, consider audit requirements that are driven by corporate credit policy. Proactively sharing the insight learned from the portfolio review with internal auditors to witness the movement of risk – or lack thereof – can prove very powerful, virtually enlisting your audit team as a well-informed business partner (and eliminating a year-end interrogation). The insight provided by portfolio analytics also enables compliance and leverage with credit insurers and banks.
Consultancy – in relationships with internal business partners. Armed with this new insight, credit portfolio analysts now can collaborate with other stakeholders and take on a more consultancy role within the organization; it’s also critical if the company is considering any merger and acquisition activities.
Creativity – in using data to provide insight, uncover new opportunities, and drive value. When the customer base is properly assessed for risk and opportunity, the limits to creativity are boundless! For example, the credit team can identify the ideal customer profile that best suits the corporate or strategic needs and develop a risk-ranked and/or a profit-ranked list of potential prospects that can be shared with the sales team to pursue for buyer interest.
Strategic Customer Level Credit Management
Credit professionals should feel compelled to own, lead, and drive internal change. The discipline has moved from basic order management activities to more strategic customer level credit management and will significantly prosper when it applies the substantial operational and strategic advantages presented by portfolio analytics. The ability to segment accounts, profile customers, and ultimately drive business practices and results by applying portfolio analytics to their customer base will do just that.
Fully leveraging portfolio analytics may take some perseverance – especially at organizations where the internal understanding of roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined. However, these also represent the best environments, since they offer no restrictions on creating value and in some sense the “sky may be the limit.” Let’s face facts, at the end of the day, all quality initiatives, process improvements, and ancillary activities are ultimately judged by the value creation, and whether it results in a strategic or competitive advantage.
Click the link below to read the complete paper, 4Cs of Credit for Portfolio Analytics.
5 Digital Advertising & Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019
Why Data Strategy is Top of Mind for B2B Marketers
Do you remember the first time you heard the term programmatic advertising? I do. It was a warm summer day, and I was finishing some work in hopes of leaving the office early to catch the premiere of The Hangover Part II, when my boss at the time tapped me on the shoulder and calmly stated that we needed to “go programmatic.” I’m pretty sure I looked at him as if he instead announced we needed to “go to Mars.” I smiled, nodded, and raced out the door having no real clue what in the world he was talking about. On the way to the theater, I quickly looked up the term “programmatic” and what came back was a confusing mishmash of terms like real-time bidding, yield optimization, and demand-side platforms.
Fast-forward nearly eight years later, and programmatic has become synonymous with digital advertising. What was once a perplexing endeavor has evolved from a novelty into a mature industry standard. That’s not to say programmatic still doesn’t bewilder even the best B2B marketer; it remains a complex ecosystem of technologies, partners, and real-time auctions. But as we see the increasing use of data to guide decisions, marketers have become familiar enough with the basics of programmatic advertising for it to have become a common and critical component of most B2B marketing campaigns.
Based on findings from the latest B2B marketing and advertising survey conducted by Adweek on behalf of Dun & Bradstreet, programmatic use is now holding steady, but new trends and concepts have infiltrated the marketing landscape, leaving many as perplexed as they were when they first heard the term “programmatic advertising” years ago.
Marketing Data: B2B’s Biggest Challenge and Opportunity
B2B marketers unanimously understand the role that data plays in their marketing strategies, but they still need to overcome many of the common obstacles that make it difficult to activate data and turn it into actionable insights that can transform their marketing.
In fact, over 90% of those surveyed agreed that greater use of prospect and customer data and analytics is changing how they approach advertising and marketing. But many still have their work cut out for them.
Here’s a summary of what we found to be some of the biggest opportunities – and challenges – B2B marketers will have in 2019.
1. Crafting an Effective Data Strategy
While a majority of organizations (84%) are using tools like customer relationship management platforms (CRM) to manage their customer data, they are less sophisticated in their use of the technologies and platforms that can unlock that data’s value – such as data management platforms (DMP) and customer data platforms (CDP). While agencies appear to be more sophisticated in their ability to manage and analyze data – with 31% saying they are using a DMP with advanced functions compared to 17% of brands – both groups identified a lack of data expertise as a critical hurdle to overcome.
As a result, one of the biggest areas of focus for B2B marketers in 2019 will be crafting a solid data strategy to serve as the foundation for all marketing campaigns and initiatives.
“Having a solid data strategy in place is necessary to be able to efficiently leverage the data assets you have access to,” says Dun & Bradstreet’s SVP, Audience Solutions, Anudit Vikram. “It’s not just a matter of having first-party data and supplementing it with third-party data. The deeper questions marketers need to be asking are, What are the right third-party data assets which overlap well with our available first-party data? What attributes will be instrumental in driving campaign performance? How are we measuring the performance of different data sets so we can decide where the money is being well spent? Of course, you cannot do any of these unless you have an appropriate data management platform in place with the right strategy around the collection, collation, and activation of the data you have access too.”
2. Breaking Down Data Silos
The biggest challenge with data is actually getting to it and using it. Half of respondents agreed that data silos within their organizations have become a huge headache. Similarly, a third of marketers pointed to siloed or inaccessible customer data as being top obstacles to achieving data-driven marketing success. This is certainly not the first survey that echoed similar frustrations with data silos and their negative impact on marketing efforts.
Marketing data can live in a wide range of places within the organization, and it needs to be consistent, accurate, and available. Developing a plan to connect pieces of data across systems to a common identifier is one of the major keys to breaking down the silos and will be a focus for a majority of B2B organizations in 2019 and beyond. After all, it’s the only way to get a complete view of the customer.
Once data silos start to go away, you’ll have an easier time gaining a clearer picture of the account journey. In B2B, that means gaining insights that will allow you to differentiate your customer experience in meaningful ways.
3. Getting Smarter About Account-Based Marketing
What’s old is new again. While account-based marketing (ABM) has been around a long time, it’s recently picked up steam with B2B marketers who are looking to market to their top accounts. And while B2B marketers agree it’s effective, only 37% claimed to actually be doing it.
Asked about the hurdles keeping them from embracing ABM, B2B marketers pointed to an unclear ABM strategy (35%), a lack of time and resources (31%), and a lack of understanding about ABM in general (29%).
“ABM strategies and the need for good data are joined at the hip,” explains Vikram. “You cannot run an effective ABM program without first having identified the target account set and then being confident in your ability to reach them in the right manner. This starts and ends with good data.”
With 22% of B2B marketers saying ABM is on their 2019 roadmap, there will be a continued focus on data to guide the ABM strategy and more internal education and knowledge-sharing to uncover ABM best practices.
4. Investing More in Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic has become such an important part of the B2B marketer’s go-to- strategy. While only a handful of B2B marketers were employing programmatic marketing when we first conducted this survey four years ago, today 63% said they are buying advertising programmatically. While the number of marketers engaging in programmatic buying has reached a plateau, the amount of money being spent on the programmatic channel continues to rise. Looking ahead to 2019, 61% of respondents said they plan to increase their programmatic spending, with 20% of those saying they will increase it by more than 25%.
“The stabilization in the percentage of marketers using programmatic methods of campaign execution is more a factor of the reality that programmatic strategies require a specific skill and also are effective only at a certain scale,” says Vikram. “Of those that fit the profile, different types of programmatic strategies will continue to drive benefits.”
5. Being Cautious Before Embracing New Solutions
A host of new buzzworthy terms have replaced programmatic as the next big thing for B2B marketing. One of the latest solutions getting a ton of buzz is blockchain. Blockchain is essentially a ledger of records linked cryptographically. But how it can be used for marketing remains to be seen.
Only 5% of B2B marketers said current blockchain solutions show promise. But over 40 percent said they just don’t know. Vikram believes there’s going to be a great opportunity to use blockchain effectively. “Blockchain has the potential of radicalizing the reporting/reconciliation/billing process, cutting days (even months!) from time to revenue recognition.” He cautions that we still may be a few years away from completely embracing it, but he nevertheless sees the value long-term.
Like programmatic almost a decade ago, B2B marketers will be hesitant to jump right in and embrace the latest buzzword until they have a concrete idea how it can be used within the organization. Until then, they need to get a handle on their data strategy, which will ultimately impact everything they do in 2019 and beyond.
Download Adweek’s Digital Marketing Trends for 2019
For the third consecutive year, Dun & Bradstreet has partnered with Adweek to gain a deeper understanding of how B2B brands are approaching data-driven marketing. The 2019 Marketing & Advertising Outlook shines a light on today’s biggest challenges, from ABM to programmatic. Check out the full report to see how your peers will be driving their marketing strategies in 2019.