Getting the most out of your B2B operation requires distributing your resources in the most efficient way possible. That means data. Achieving long-term growth and extracting the most value out of every investment only comes with an intelligent use of data. Leveraging information lets you stretch your limited budget and deploy your overworked staff in a way that maximizes your growth potential.
However, this process comes with a catch. In the modern economy, it’s relatively easy to find information. You can collect data on markets, on customers, on vendors – almost any aspect of your business offers a potential forum for data analysis.
But just having information doesn’t translate to actionable intel. You have to know how to use the numbers you collect. And therein lies the catch. You don’t want to get overwhelmed with raw numbers and not know how best to use the intelligence you’ve gathered.
Companies can use data in a variety of ways. A study conducted by Dresner Advisory Services in 2017 showed that data warehouse optimization was the most heavily targeted area, with 70% of survey respondents seeing this as a critical or very important arena. A majority of respondents also put a high priority on customer/social analysis and predictive maintenance.
Of course, the exact use of the information you gather will depend on your specific circumstances. Achieving optimal results means developing proprietary information and directing toward the biggest areas of need within your organization. That said, there are some basic strategies you can employ to maximize the value of whatever information you receive.
Find the Right Data
Your first temptation when it comes to data: collect as much as possible. We’re in the era of big data, after all. More must be better, right?
Not always. Data analysis isn’t about volume. Of course, having sufficient data is important for uncovering useful insights. But the process should center more on the quality of the data collected, rather than on bringing in as much as possible.
Too much information becomes overwhelming, and false insights can lead to devastatingly expensive mistakes. This realization is central to how B2B managers think about data. A survey conducted by Dun & Bradstreet showed that 89% of respondents view data quality as the driver behind B2B sales and marketing. However, only 11% of those surveyed actually had significant confidence in the data their companies compiled.
Don’t become overwhelmed by doubt. Instead, make planning a huge step in your data-analysis process. Don’t just gather a bunch of statistics and then, after you have them in hand, blunder around, trying to figure out how to use them. Instead, take some time to map out a strategy.
Here are a few steps to keep in mind:
- Before collecting data, think about how you want to use it. Let your overall strategic plan guide your process of gathering and developing intel.
- Consider the source of the information and build that into your later plans for analysis. Don’t just pull data from any available source. Rather, consider how much confidence you have in the information before you become too reliant on it. It will give you a firm base from the beginning.
- Ask targeted questions and contemplate the best ways to answer them. Know what you are trying to learn before you begin sifting through the information. It will help direct your process.
By taking these precautions, you improve your chances of gathering actionable information. Meanwhile, considering the source and uses of data can help you feel more confident in your eventual insights.
Get More from the Data You Collect
In its raw form, data just exists as a bunch of numbers. Think about the relationship between a beach and a sand castle. Without little plastic shovels and colorful buckets, there’s just a bunch of sand. But, with the right tools, you can build something spectacular.
The same goes for data usage. Without techniques of analysis, you’re stuck with a pile of unusable figures. You need to organize your data and consider the best way to mine the information for usable insights.
As such, pay attention to how you store your data and how you interact with the information you collect. Getting the most out of your data is key. (Remember the stat from earlier: 70% of companies view data warehousing as a high priority).
To achieve these goals, think about the nuts-and-bolts logistics that go into gathering and storing large amounts of data. For instance, a flexible, scalable solution, like Druid Architecture, lets you to input large amounts of information, and easily draw actionable insights.
Use Data as a Target-Finder
You’ve developed a data-gathering strategy and created an efficient system to store and utilize the information. Now, it’s time to put the data to work. You need to devise a meaningful framework for leveraging the insights you receive.
This can be a challenge. People often think of data in terms of mass-marketing efforts, techniques that can target the largest-possible audience. However, this represents a narrow view of the situation. Data can also be used to refine markets, rather than broaden them.
In other words, you want to look for potential niches to exploit, rather than direct all your attention on mass appeal. This lets you narrow your efforts to certain ripe segments of the market. Moreover, the right data can help you target the right individuals.
For instance, success in a B2B operation isn’t just about finding companies that need your products and services. It’s also about finding the right decision-makers at those target companies. For prospecting and networking, you need to have up-to-date info about clients, and the individuals working for those clients. A well-organized data operation can help you maintain and update these records.
Hone Your Approach
Once you’ve narrowed your target audience to the people most likely to gain value from your offerings, it’s time to make the best possible pitch you can. Data can also help in this regard. Having the right information can let you communicate more effectively.
After all, making a sale isn’t just about finding the right customers. You also need to engage them in the right way. You close a transaction through communication. Data can also help you fine-tune this aspect of the process.
For instance, one study found that 79% of B2B marketers view email as the distribution channel that created the best results. That’s extremely useful as a general stat. However, your industry, or even your specific customers, may not respond the same way. Having proprietary data will help you identify the best possible approach for you, greatly increasing the ROI of your marketing budget.
Setting Yourself Up for the Future
With the appropriate data set, you can experiment with various forms of marketing. You can test email vs. social vs. video vs. whatever other methods you want to try. Meanwhile, you can also test various approaches and see which is most effective. Using data, you can get aggressively granular about your decision-making, down to individual word choices or color decisions.
The key here is to continue the process of experimentation over the long haul. With the right data gathering and data storage, you can continually improve your marketing strategy. Small adjustments can compound over time, dramatically accelerating your growth prospects.