According to research from IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are now created every single day, with 90% of the world's data being generated in the two years from 2014 alone. With such an abundance of data available, you'd think that businesses would be incorporating it into their marketing strategies left right and centre. Unfortunately, this isn't the case - data driven marketing remains underused, and this is a big mistake.
As we'll explore in this B2B marketing blog; the difference between informed and uninformed marketing can shape a company's growth in a number of ways, and it all begins with collecting the right business intelligence.
Business intelligence (BI) involves the collection and analysis of company and market data in order to provide useful insights. This in turn allows companies to make more informed decisions, based on cold hard facts rather than having to rely on estimates or guesswork.
In order to make the process efficient, business intelligence requires the right tools and systems to collect, sort, manage and analyse data so that it actually becomes actionable insights, instead of simply a collection of statistics. According to Gartner, the business intelligence and analytics market was worth over $18 billion at the end of 2017, demonstrating the growth of the strategy as an increasing number of organisations realise the fantastic potential it offers.
If your business isn't already making use of business intelligence, there are plenty of reasons for doing so. A survey by Accenture found that 79% of business executives believe that companies that fail to embrace data effectively will lose out to competition and could become extinct.
The numerous advantages that business intelligence can offer you include:
Fact-based decisions - The most obvious advantage of integrating BI into your marketing strategy is the ability to base decisions on facts, cutting out the need to use gut instinct or simply making guesses. This inevitably leads to more accurate and realistic insights, as well as better decisions overall.
Quicker Decisions - BI speeds up the decision making process because it allows you to generate instant insights, instead of having to manually skim through reports to find answers. According to CMO Council, this is the biggest advantage for 67% of marketers, as it allows them to carry out campaigns at a quicker pace.
Less Waste - Using business intelligence also means less waste, as it gives you the opportunity to identify areas where you're overspending or resources aren't being allocated effectively. A good example is from Toyota, who saved over $800,000 back in 2000 when they realised they had been overpaying distributors with the help of BI tools.
Bring Team Together - A company that is utilising business intelligence effectively is likely to have a better data culture across the whole organisation. This means less room for data silos to build up, allowing every member from every department to have access to the right data whenever they need it.
Get Ahead of Competitors - Business intelligence can keep you one step ahead of your rivals by allowing you to find insights that will offer your target market a better customer experience, as well as helping to find and engage them at the early stages.
The above are just a few examples of the advantages that business intelligence can offer a business. As this chart taken from BI Survey demonstrates, companies that are making use of BI tools, including B2B intelligence platforms, have noticed a wide array of different benefits being brought to their organisation.
If you need any further convincing as to why business intelligence is so important for effective marketing and solid business growth, check out the following stats:
Businesses that embrace data-driven decision making in their marketing strategy are six times more likely to turn a profit year-over-year. - Forbes
Companies basing their decisions on data are predicted to earn $1.8 trillion a year by 2021. - Forrester
If UK organisations that are currently not utilising data effectively began behaving as those that are, it would mean a 3% rise in productivity, equal to £1 of GDP for every hour worked. - Nesta
Data-driven businesses are seeing eight times more growth than the global GDP. - Forrester
As we've explored above, using business intelligence for more data-driven decision making offers a wealth of advantages for any organisation. This explains why over 98% of executives state that they are currently trying to create a data-driven culture in their business, according to a survey from NewVantage Partners. However, the same report found that just 32% of these businesspeople felt they had been successful in doing this.
Integrating business intelligence into your marketing strategy can seem a somewhat daunting and complicated process, but in reality it doesn't have to be so. The wide range of tools now available for this purpose make it much easier to implement, and this begins with the gathering of B2B company data.
Having access to quality company data allows you to make better, more informed decisions across a range of business functions. Here’s how...
You only have access to your business' internal data, such as that generated through sales. This is a good place to start; it gives you an idea of your customer base and which products are most popular, it doesn't provide in-depth insights to help drive your business forward.
Going deeper allows you to explore the background of clients and prospects, giving you a much clearer idea of who they are and what their specific needs and preferences are likely to be. This is particularly important when it comes to qualifying prospects; business intelligence will allow you to find out more about a lead's budget, as well as identifying the right types of leads based on your ideal buyer profile.
A business intelligence tool gives you instant access to the B2B information required to dig a little deeper on each company, starting with a detailed financial breakdown for each organisation, including balance sheets, cash flow and profit and loss accounts. Here’s how it looks like at Global Database.
You're gathering information about customers solely based on their interactions with your company, through email, social media or their activity on your website. Tracking customers and leads this way gives you limited data to work with, and doesn't tell you much about how qualified a business is, or how soon they are likely to need your product or service.
Track Your Market - More in-depth business intelligence involves tracking the market as a whole, enabling you to not only get a better idea of who your customers are, but also how your market is currently performing. You can then use this B2B market research to make forecasts and predictions based on facts and figures, giving better accuracy.
Track Decision Makers - More informed intelligence also means monitoring the key people in your industry. A business intelligence platform such as Global Database enables you to keep tabs on decision makers, alerting you when they've changed position or company.
Track Use of Tech - Following the types of technologies that a company is using is incredibly useful. In the case of customers, you can offer them complementary products or services based on their current stack, or offer them a more advanced solution to make their operations more efficient.
On the other hand you can also track what your competitors are using. This helps you get a feel for what is standard in your industry, and also helps you to determine which companies are ahead of the curve and which are relying on outdated tools and systems - giving you the opportunity to gain an edge and exploit their weaknesses.
Global Database gives you a full overview of which technologies a business is currently using, covering everything from analytics to shipping.
You can set alerts for specific companies, and we’ll notify you via email if the business starts using a new technology.
You only know what buyers tell you, and as a result you're at the mercy of how much information they’re willing to share. This leaves you with a largely superficial view of your target audience; not ideal for establishing the best way to engage them and give them products and services they actually need.
Gain a much more in-depth picture of your clients and prospects. This helps you to qualify leads, perform background checks and also personalise your communications with them to have a much greater chance at engaging them and moving them further along the sales funnel.
Having a more detailed breakdown of a company also allows you to find what they care most about. For example, you might find that they're having financial issues or trouble gaining website traffic. Many companies would be reluctant to part ways with this type of information, especially to a business they're not familiar with, but by learning of their challenges from an indirect source you can then offer them solutions to solve their issues.
Having a solid understanding of your clients is also important when it comes to negotiations, highlighting exactly how your product or service can help them specifically, and it also gives you the upper hand when it comes to talking money if you already have a good idea of how much they can really afford.
Global Database offers detailed information across a range of different factors. This includes:
Overview - Business names, addresses, contact details, years established, industry.
Financials - View a company's financial history and current performance - determine whether the business is growing, and a realistic idea of their budget. Global Database also provides business credit scores to help protect you from entering potentially risky deals.
Employees - See how many employees each company has to get a good idea of its size, and view information about specific members of staff, such as their names, ages, job titles, seniority level and department, as well as individual contact details.
Structure - Learn about the shareholders and ownership of a company, and view the history for company directors.
Digital - See monthly and past trends for the company's website traffic, including numbers and keywords they're ranking for. You can also learn what technologies they're using, and Alexa ranking.
Relying on gut instinct isn't a good idea when it comes to making effective business decisions, and yet research from PwC found that 41% of senior executives still do it. Even basing your choices off of past experiences isn't a good idea; trends change, and there can be a number of contributing factors that made a certain outcome. The same goes for relying on anecdotal ‘evidence’ from colleagues or industry contacts - what’s worked for them may not work for you.
As the chart below from Ascend2 shows, using data for better decision making is the top objective in marketing for businesses. Having a more informed marketing strategy means using cold hard facts to support your theories, and using these numbers to determine more realistic outcomes.
Having this information means you can also prioritise your prospects based on their current needs and finances, allocating your resources more effectively and saving you time and money in the long run.
Business intelligence is becoming increasingly crucial for effective marketing campaigns. When it becomes time to start putting your next campaign together, it's important to consider how you are planning to incorporate the BI you've collected in order to increase your engagement rates.
Despite the rapid rise of social media in recent times, email remains one of the best B2B marketing strategies. According to the DMA, it now generates an average of £32.28 for every £1 spent.
Email allows you to reach large numbers of prospects in one hit, but in a much more direct and personal way than other marketing channels, makin it ideal in marketing strategies for international business. It also makes it very simple to keep track of who is interacting with your brand, and you can easily segment your marketing lists in order to send the most relevant offers or content to different types of businesses.
The high return on investment that email marketing provides makes it the most popular channel for businesses today, as demonstrated in the chart above from Demand Wave.
Whether you're using email or phone campaigns, Global Database is the ideal companion. It allows you to easily filter the millions of company records based on your ideal customers. This means searching based on things like company size, revenue, location, industry, years in operation, technologies used and more. You're able to build precisely-targeted call and mailing lists, cutting out the need to manually qualify leads and allowing you to launch your campaigns immediately.
The Global Database platform offers a wide range of filter options to help you drill right down to the companies you need.
Once you’ve made your perfect selection, you’ll be given a list of results. You can then click onto each company to gain detailed business intelligence.
While email marketing’s status as the top marketing channel hasn’t changed, there are a number of new B2B marketing ideas predicted to shape the future of B2B marketing. These include:
Influencer marketing - While it may be associated more with B2C, B2B companies are also starting to use influencer marketing as one of the fastest-growing digital marketing trends. YouTube is a good channel for using an influencer in your niche to spread the word about your product, service or event.
Mobile-friendly marketing - With the majority of digital engagement now occurring across mobile devices, it's essential that B2B businesses keep up with their B2C counterparts and provide a seamless mobile experience. This includes having a mobile-friendly website, email content that is suited to these types of device and potentially mobile apps to create a better customer experience.
Return of the cold call - an increasing number of businesses are realising that, when done well, cold calling offers excellent rewards. Business intelligence should be used to tailor your approach and also ensure you’re reaching out to the right decision maker.
While business intelligence is clearly extremely useful when it comes to marketing as one of the best lead generation tools available, it is also useful in a number of different areas. Despite this, research from VisionCritical has found that just 17% of organisations are using insights from customer data throughout their entire enterprise.
With this in mind, here are some other ways you can make the most of business intelligence in your company.
Using quality business intelligence helps to fuel development and growth for your enterprise. When you have a solid understanding of who your customers are, and what their particular pain points and challenges are, you can identify new products and services that will act as a solution to their problems.
Business intelligence also gives you a better idea of how prosperous a new market will be for your business, whether it's an industry or location. Learn how saturated it already is, and if it is dominated by one or just a handful of businesses or spread out across many organisations. It can also happen that when you look closer at your customer base, you find new segments that you hadn't previously realised you were serving. When you become aware of this, you can allocate specific resources to target this new market, and reach customers who may not be aware of your business thus far.
Trying to find the ideal candidate to fill an open position can be an incredibly long and frustrating challenge. Business intelligence can make the process much simpler by allowing you to find out more about each candidate, in regards to their prior experience and the skills they've potentially picked up.
As well as being able to look up a specific employee by name or corporate email address, Global Database also allows you to filter all executives so you can find the right person for your job opening. You can narrow the records by location, industry, job title, department and seniority level, and unlike some B2B platforms, we offer data for staff at every level, not just the higher-ups.
Having too much stock sitting around can have an extremely negative impact on your business' finances. Using business intelligence you can work out the optimal amount of products you need to have at any given time, depending on factors such as the time of year. It will also allows you to spot trends and fluctuations in demand, so you can react accordingly and with enough time to ensure you don't end up losing money.
Keeping a watchful eye on what your business rivals are doing is always a good idea. It means you'll be aware if something big happens, like they launch a new product or enter a new market. This gives you the chance to react accordingly, whether that be coming up with a competing product, testing out a new niche or competing on price.
Global Database helps you keep tabs on your competitors. You can find out their current financial performance, which technologies they're using and how much website traffic they're getting, both organically and through referrals. You can then use this information to your own advantage by using similar tools and tactics.
According to research from Forbes, 88% of marketers use data collected from third-party sources in order to gain a better understanding of their target market. Using a reputable B2B intelligence platform offers a number of benefits, such as:
In-depth information - Using a B2B platform gives you instant access to a wide range of data that will give you a much deeper understanding of each company. The data offered by Global Database is taken from a number of different sources, so we're able to give our customers a complete overview of any organisation they want to research.
Cost savings - Manually sourcing business intelligence is often an extremely time consuming and therefore expensive process. Using a B2B data provider is therefore a cost-effective option. Access to Global Database is based on a yearly subscription fee that is all-inclusive; not only is it great value but there are no costly hidden surprises.
Efficiency - With the time saved by not having to do manual research, your sales and marketing team are able to focus their attention on more pressing activities, such as closing deals.
Quality Data - Research has found that 52% of employees at SMEs admit to not deleting stale files from their computers more frequently than once a month. Having up to date and accurate information is vital for successful marketing, and using a data provider ensures no room for manual error and more accurate B2B sales leads.
Ease of use - Business intelligence platforms such as Global Database are easy to integrate with other platforms and apps like Salesforce. Our platform has also been designed for a simple and smooth customer experience, with easy navigation and all information displayed in a clear and attractive way.
There are a number of business intelligence providers on the market, so it can be difficult to know where to start. Whether you're considering a purchase from a business data provider, keep in mind the following points when weighing up your options.
Where their data comes from - Ensure that the information is collected from a number of sources so that is cross-checked and as in-depth as possible.
How often it’s updated - Unlike Global Database, not all providers update their records on a daily basis. In order to avoid being left with incorrect and stale data, ensure the provider has a commitment to data checks and updates.
Previous clients - Looking at the other companies that are using the B2B intelligence platform can provide a good indication of the kind of quality you can expect.
Beware of false promises - If a provider is making claims that seem too good to be true, they probably are. No reputable company would claim to have an accuracy rating of 100%; the rapid nature of business change makes it impossible.
Whether or not your business is using informed or uninformed marketing can ultimately be the difference between the success and failure of your campaigns. Relying on gut instinct or superficial insights are no longer B2B marketing best practices - it's truly the age of big data, so you're likely to fall behind if you're not making effective use of the range of information available to you.
Using business intelligence as part of your marketing strategy, as well as your other business activities, ensures that you have a much deeper understanding on your market and target audience, and can therefore target them much more effectively.