Today’s B2B buyers are taking closer control of their own purchase journeys, conducting extensive research into potential vendors before engaging. They more quickly understand the range of available product and service options, interact with salespeople much later in the sales cycle, and expect vendors to offer personalized experiences that carry across to whatever channel they find most convenient at the moment. If one vendor fails to offer the purchasing options or flexible custom experiences buyers expect, they have the savvy to find another vendor that does–and quickly.
Against this backdrop, B2B vendors must provide engaging omnichannel experiences that keep pace with evolving buyer behavior. Doing so effectively also means delivering personalization and self-service purchasing options that the competitive landscape is quickly making into prerequisites for success. But execution first demands deft use of trustworthy data, and a recently-released report on B2B digital transformation from eMarketer, featuring insights from Accenture Interactive, points to just how critical B2B customer data is for delivering the omnichannel experiences buyers are demanding.
Vendors are certainly becoming aware of this mandate for seamless, omnichannel marketing capabilities: according to research from Accenture Interactive, four in ten B2B companies believe capturing a 360-degree view of the customer should be a leading priority in the next two years. B2B vendors also report becoming more strategic about the opportunity data presents, with a third of respondents saying they aim to quickly make better use of data in order to more effectively sell to–and nurture–their customers. At the same time, research from Forrester Consulting finds that less than half of B2B professionals in North America, the UK and Ireland currently trust their customer data to be complete and accurate.
To gain valuable insights, data must first be free from organizational silos and poorly aligned data systems. And B2B marketers often actually possess far more valuable customer data than they realize, which unfortunately goes untapped or underutilized. Many have an opportunity to uncover the actionable customer insights they seek without making major new investments, simply by strategically leveraging unused (or underused) data currently residing in a vendor’s CRM files, website, ad servers, email platform, social listening tools and more.
To properly harness this data, B2B vendors should explore ways to overlay customer data collected from these various digital touch points. They should also introduce leadership initiatives focused on building and using a customer experience measurement framework that stretches across channels. Finally, they should put processes in place to bring data and insights to the business groups within the organization that can make the most of them.
By compiling the right customer data and putting it to work strategically, B2B vendors can deliver omnichannel marketing messages and purchase experiences that are more appealing and personally compelling to their customers. For further insights into how your business should shape its B2B digital transformation strategy, read the full report produced by eMarketer for Accenture Interactive here.
—Jason Michaels, Managing Director, Accenture Interactive