Everywhere you go, you’ll likely hear something about data these days. This is the era of big data, after all. Companies are concerned about data management and data lakes. You’ve likely heard about “data cleanses.”
Data is everywhere. It’s simply inescapable, especially for today’s business-to-business marketer. You’ve been told over and over again about the importance of collecting data and analyzing it. You’ve probably got tabs on any number of metrics right now.
It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. Data analytics doesn’t need to be difficult or complex. In fact, understanding what data analytics are and why you need them is easy with this guide designed for B2B marketers like you!
What Are Data Analytics?
First things first: What are data analytics?
Data is information collected, often by software means. You collect data from your clients when they sign up for your newsletter and give you their personal contact information. You collect data when someone makes a purchase from your website. Your website traffic statistics are a form of data.
All of this together is data, but it’s relatively meaningless to you. So what if your website got one hit in the last hour? You want to know more. Where did that hit come from, what content did they look at, how long did they spend on the page? These are questions inquiring minds want to know the answers to!
Data analytics is the process of taking the raw data and transforming it into something useful. Data analytics will take your website traffic statistics and analyze it for trends. You get most of your hits from the UK on Wednesdays around 9 am! Now that’s useful information.
Where Does Data Come From?
As noted, this is the era of big data. Many companies have data coming out their ears, so much so they’re concerned about cleaning up “data lakes.” As you know, data without analytics isn’t very useful. Data management takes these “data lakes” and sifts through them to create useful, meaningful information you can use to inform your business and marketing decisions. If you know where most of your website hits come from or what content is most successful, you can gear your efforts to your audience.
One question many B2B marketers have is “where does data come from?” The fact companies are contending with data lakes should give you a clue! The answer is “everywhere.” Almost anything can provide you with some form of raw data.
A couple of sources were already noted. Website traffic statistics are one of the most popular data sources. Others include site registrations, such as the form you provide to allow clients to sign up for your mailing list. Other popular sources include CRM records and customer surveys, qualified online leads, and even syndicated market research.
In short, data can come from almost anywhere, in almost any form. The question is what you do with that information.
As you now know, data on its own isn’t exactly insightful. Getting a person’s email address could have some use, but you might be interested in knowing how many people are signing up with their corporate email addresses. Is everyone in a single company signed up for your newsletter? This is more useful and insightful information to have.
Data analytics, as established, is the process of making meaning out of the raw data collected. Your website statistics don’t mean much until they’ve been analyzed. The information generated by analysis can then be used to steer business and marketing decisions. If your target market is the US and most of your hits are coming from the UK, it could be time to invest in an advertising campaign designed to target American businesses.
There are generally two types of data you want to collect. The first is descriptive data. This includes personal contact details and information about who is working for which company. It also includes information from customer satisfaction surveys and other sorts of information.
The second type of data is behavioural data. This includes your website statistics and things like email open rates. Who is opening your emails? At what time and on which days of the week? Behavioural information goes a long way to informing your marketing strategies.
Predictive Analytics Are Becoming Common
So far, the discussion has focused on analytics run on the data you’ve already collected. This gives some insight into already existing trends. In essence, it tells you about what’s already happened.
You already know you can’t change the past. It’s great that everyone from Company A decided to sign up for your newsletter, but is it really going to help you decide what to do next? Predictive analytics are becoming more popular with B2B marketers for this reason.
Today’s artificial intelligence and machine learning thrive on huge amounts of data. If you’re like most B2B marketers these days, getting the data isn’t the problem. It’s figuring out what to do with it. You can analyze it for current and past trends.
Or you could feed it into an AI analysis. The AI can use this information to “learn” and make predictions about what’s going to happen in the future. If the trend shows rising exposure in the UK and interest and appeal among insurance companies, you can capitalize on this opportunity by targeting these markets.
Other Uses of Data
Data analysis can be predictive to reveal future trends and historical associations between trends. Other uses exist, although they’re less popular. Diagnostic, prescriptive, and contextual analysis can provide insight into your business and marketing efforts, although most B2B marketers find them less useful than predictive and descriptive analyses.
There Are Challenges
While data-driven marketing shouldn’t be overly complex, many companies do face challenges, particularly when it comes to implementing successful data practices. The success of your data analysis depends, to an extent, on your data management practices.
Many B2B companies reported they were working with old or outdated data. Obviously, using old information to drive your marketing strategy is something of a misstep. You could also run into trouble if you don’t have the time or resources to deal with all of the data you’re collecting.
Data collection processes are another challenge for B2B marketers. Yes, you have scores of data at your fingertips, but how do you decide what’s useful to collect and what’s not? You’ll also have to find a way to ensure data is entered as uniformly as possible. If there are three different ways to enter the date into your system, you’ll have a hard time sorting your February 5 sign-ups from your May 2 subscriptions.
Old technology is another problem, as is organizational structure. Do you have access to the sales department’s statistics? What information do you have about IT’s operations? Knowing when your website is down for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance could fill in some gaps in your knowledge!
Ensuring data is uniform and accessible will power your marketing strategy. Keeping data clean and up to date will ensure you’re working with the best information to power the most accurate insights. Better data analytics is at hand, and with it, you can make better decisions to drive your marketing forward.