Turning Customer Information Into Actionable Insight: B2B's Date With Big Data?

Here at the Adobe Summit in Salt Lake City, one announcement that’s creating buzz among the 6000-plus attendees is a new customer profiling feature. Called Master Marketing Profile (MMP), Adobe says this new capability gives marketers a view of customer data that spans a broad range of third-party systems, real-time analytics, and behavioral sources. (First of its kind in the industry? Not sure; Demandbase may care to differ, but I’ll let them settle that score separately.)

Dynamic customer profiling is something all marketers should get excited about.

It’s the type of technology evolution, when coupled with the right marketing practices, that is closing the gap between the amount of data available to us as marketers and our ability to get value from it. From my perspective, B2B marketers need to make a date with their big data destiny, and the time to schedule this appointment is now.

Empowered business buyers — sporting digital devices giving them information about and access to the products they want as consumers — now bring these always-on, always addressable expectations into the office. This presents big problems to B2B marketers, content to lead with products and features, who now find they need to fulfill these expanding digital expectations by getting closer to customers and knowing much more about them — a tough problem if access to, quality of, and practices around using customer data are underdeveloped.

A wealth of insights is available to B2B marketers if they are willing to dig in. Internet exploration, search, smart device usage, content browsing, and business community social activity reveals the twists and turns customers take throughout their lifetime. 

But that wealth is only available to marketing teams willing to go beyond basic customer profiling to tap into the abundance of behavioral data and firmographic insights found in conventional as well as unconventional B2B data sources. By analyzing the footprints that their best customers leave behind, B2B CMOs can more accurately map their journeys and use technology — like that found in Adobe’s MMP — and analytics to predict where the next best business opportunities will show up.
 
This is a topic I’m very excited to speak about at Forrester’s Forum For Marketing Leaders, April 10th and 11th in San Francisco — and again in London on May 13th and 14th. I hope you will join me at one of these two events as I explore how B2B CMOs can start with existing customer profiles to gain nonobvious insight into why buyers buy. With this insight, they can then build engagement scenarios that anticipate and intercept the path other similar customers are most likely to take. I’m also planning to share some examples of firms like Avid, Cisco, and Zendesk that are using B2B customer data to do this.

B2B CMOs need to think about big data, not as a data quality and technology problem but as the way to transition their teams from list managers and campaign number crunchers to custodians of customer insight. Shall we make it a date in San Francisco or London? See you there!

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