A complete customer picture is a marketer’s dream come true. With a full firmographic, behavioral and psychographic profile of each trial user, customer or prospect, you’re well on your way to optimizing your marketing campaigns with the most impactful messaging and positioning, at exactly the right time.
For many organizations, the dots are in place: Most of the right data exists somewhere. The problem is that few marketers have the technological and integration capabilities to piece together cohesive campaigns. Smart segmentation, as a result, is impossible.
CMOs can’t wait for functional, cultural and technological silos to break down. In reality, systems take time to catch up, and information will continue to be dispersed across entire organizations. But there is a way that you can outsmart time sinks and inefficiency: You can focus on the exact, highest-impact data sources that will optimize the information that you do have. Here are the steps that fellow marketing leaders are taking to create more complete customer profiles.
Create Data Layers
The main challenge companies face in forming a full customer picture is the ability to piece together different offline and online data points that exist. Attribution is important but challenging to navigate: Marketers are often buried under avalanches of information. There isn’t an easy way for companies to create complete and accurate personas.
One way that Sprout Social (Dun & Bradstreet is a client), tackles this challenge is to overlay multiple data stories upon each other. The end result of this process is two-fold: Sprout Social’s marketing team can sanity-check its numbers and craft stories that uncover the highest-value opportunities and processes for customer acquisition.
“We do our best to overlay intent data collected during the research and purchase phase with product usage data to help us more clearly define our target markets, which marketing channels work best, and which product features provide the most value,” says Brandt.
As part of this process, Brandt is investigating the usage of additional B2B data sources with third-party vendors. Until recently, Sprout Social has relied on first-party data sources to optimize its marketing campaigns. Now, Sprout Social is investigating additional touchpoints for information generation.
“To accomplish this, we’ll continue to ask good questions, leverage technology and third-party vendors where applicable and communicate with our customers directly,” says Brandt. “Understanding where our target markets assemble, how they go about researching and buying our products and services and what their challenges are allows us to build more effective campaigns.”
Forge Custom Partnerships
What happens when your first-party data doesn’t address your business questions and you can’t find the right third-party data? The answer is simple: You push past these limitations by seeking information from unconventional places. Consider forging a custom relationship with a strategic partner in your industry. This doesn’t have to be a traditional data vendor. Instead, get creative. Consider the case of Martin Milanov, digital marketing lead at corporate travel company Fair Point GmbH as an example:
“Our target for the next couple of years is to expand further into the Middle East and Asia,” says Milanov. “That said, figuring out the cultural and business differences between our current clients in Europe and their counterparts in Asia, is a difficult task, especially when you try to target one without hampering the user experience for the other. There is still not that much data that can be used when it comes to the Asian B2B market.”
To bridge this gap, Milanov spearheaded a data licensing partnership with one of the most renowned event organizers and venues in China and the UAE.
“This enables us to learn from their local success and at the same time gather more data on the customer behavior and expectations in Asia moving forward,” says Milanov
Step Out of the Dark
Connecting online and offline data remains a challenge for many marketers. Today, there’s call tracking technology, and it’s essential for almost all types of companies. Why? As much as buyers love the Internet, they’re still using the phone to guide themselves through your company’s conversion funnel.
“Offline contact centers are incredibly important acquisition channels but are frequently overlooked by marketers when mapping their customers’ journeys,” says Bhavesh Vaghela, CMO at call tracking software provider ResponseTap.
Vaghela recounts an experience where one B2B customer had no way of connecting its audiences’ online browsing behavior to informational phone calls.
“In the crossover from online to offline, customer data was being be lost, leaving the company in the dark as to which online marketing activity was driving leads over the phone,” says Vaghela. “Without making this link, it was impossible to know what part of the company’s online marketing spend was paying off in terms of sales completed on the phone.”
After connecting its call and Web analytics software, the company was able to trace its prospects’ progression through the conversion funnel. Support team members were able to see each caller’s website search queries and content browsing histories, for instance.
“The company discovered that by linking the keywords searched to specific phone calls, customers were typically searching for products, not through the product name ‘annuity,’ but through the more generic term ‘pension,’ even though annuities and pensions are different products,” says Vaghela. “This insight into customer search practices allowed us to tailor ad copy and target our keyword spend to those keywords that were actually driving sales.”
In this way, ResponseTap used a more comprehensive customer picture to yield higher marketing efficiencies through smarter optimizations. And data was at the heart of it all.
Every marketer wants a complete customer picture, but it’s not something that you’re going to get out of the box. You need to get creative with your data collection and integration capabilities. Data storytelling layers, strategic partnerships and new connective technologies will give you a strong start.