The big barriers to big data for b2b marketers

Metrics. Measurement. ROI

Three little things responsible for marketers across the world waking up in cold sweats at night.

The thing is being a b2b marketer is not easy at the moment.

Your customers’ buying behaviours are changing, industry experts are shoving social and digital myths down your neck and worst of all your CEO is losing patience with woolly results from marketing campaigns.

Then came along big data. The measurement super hero. Ready and waiting with his team of insight tools, analytics experts and reams of spread sheets to give the answers marketers have been yearning after for so long.

However, as was clear from a recent debate hosted by ABBA and IAB, there’s a sticking point or two that is shadowing marketing from the shining light of insight

Issue one: The baffling complexity of the systems

There is a plethora of systems that can help marketers gain insight into their customers, and their campaigns. The likes of Eloqua, Silverpop and Hubspot shine a light on what prospects are doing and how they are interacting with your business. Who is visiting your site? What are they looking at? Where are they in the buying cycle? Unfortunately, to effectively use these systems your business needs highly trained and skilled specialists. The truth of the matter is the skills gap is huge and until this problem is fixed and marketers are fully educated and trained to use them, useful data insights will remain locked away.

Issue two: The sales marketing divide

During the debate it was clear one old issue remained a sticking point for businesses – the sales/marketing divide. The entrenched frustrations that exist between the two departments ring true as ever when it comes to big data. The crux of the issue is that sales don’t think they are getting the right insight and information about the prospects (and whether they are in fact a warm, qualified lead) and marketing often doesn’t get feedback, information and insight into what is ticking the right boxes for prospects to shape future communications. Until we begin to see unity between the old foes, businesses realistically will never see the true value of big data.

Issue three: Technology is not the answer to all marketing woes

There was a clear theme that came through in the heated discussion. Marketers, struggling to connect with an ever changing customer, believe that big data is the answer to all their woes. And sadly it is not. The data can shine a light on your customers, their issues and how they interact and respond to your campaigns – but without the right messaging, creative and strategy in place from the start activity is ultimately set to fail. Sadly big data is not the medicine for bad marketing.

Issue four: Balancing insight with intuition

While big data is relatively new to the world of b2b marketing, comprehensive data and analytics have been used to make big decisions in sport for years. Particularly in Formula 1, managers are forced to make split second decisions based on hard data that sits at odds with their gut feeling. The question is; are b2b marketers ready to question their current tactics if the data says do the opposite? Are they willing to target a whole new audience if insight says their purchaser is changing? The data can throw up some challenging questions – but who is willing to face up to them?

It’s clear the future is bright for marketers, and the reams of data and insight will only help maximise the effectiveness of marketing activity. But until these barriers are conquered, big data will remain the baffling beast it is today.

By Earnest 16 April 2013
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