Marketing’s New Frontier: Finding The First-Party Data Advantage

By Jonathon Schuster, VP, Product Management, Bombora

With the future of identifiers cloudier than ever before, the new competitive edge for marketers lies in uncovering unique data sets. Demographic, firmographic and technographic data are all tried and true resources, but with thousands of brokers offering those assets, marketers need to find something new that will help them stand out.

Fortunately for the marketers who may be running scared at this point, their organization likely has untapped forms of data that are readily available. The task ahead for marketers is to think creatively about new data sets and then make them actionable within their existing workflows. This is critical in the B2B space, where the consumer-focused shared identity spaces simply don’t exist yet.

Leverage the customer in front of you

Marketers have a firm grasp of their CRM data and the customer journey through the funnel. If someone hits a website, shares an email address, or fills out a lead form, the marketer can start constructing a profile.

The challenge for the marketer is getting insight into the interactions between the prospect and the organization beyond their own lens.

For one example, let’s consider call centers, which are on the bleeding edge of data that can flow back into marketing. Often, they’re outside the purview of marketing groups, because they fall under the CIO’s jurisdiction within an organization. Step one, of course, is finding ways to access this data. This requires negotiations and teamwork within an enterprise, but with the coming need for marketing data, these kinds of cross-department collaborations should become a priority.

Once you have access to something like a call center, you need to mine the insights. In the B2B space, the trick is tying individual calls back to a business, and then understanding what those calls can tell you about business decision making.

For example, using call tracking data from vendors like DialogTech, Marchex, and Invoca along with IVR key presses from existing call centers will tell you how your marketing campaigns are driving sales calls versus support calls. From there, you can start applying intelligence to how to handle those to create more lift. After all, you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.

For instance, if you’re a telecom company selling devices, and you receive lots of calls tied to business lines from one company, and can then match that to traffic to your website, it presents an opportunity to approach the business with an offer or strategic partnership, taking advantage of a clear intent signal.

Putting new data into action

That’s really just one precise example of how new data sources can be used. But the truth is, the game plan for experimenting with new forms of first-party data is the same, across any B2B enterprise.

Step number one is to start small. Identify a hypothesis via one key interaction you’re looking to alter. To return to call centers, say you’re trying to grow sales at an organization that is a target account and has shown intent to purchase your products or services. One solution to that would be to create a call strategy that runs that call directly to a marketing or sales team member, rather than someone under the CIO’s purview, in order to close the amount of time taken to close a sale. After a while, you can look at the efficiency and revenue numbers to see if they’ve improved among target accounts.

As a marketer, small, tangible experiments like this can create brand lift by tweaking the interactions with the customers. In all likelihood, the future will require marketers to take more responsibility for the brand experience, and this would be a safe way to edge into that world.

Similarly, offering promotions to your repeat customers to drive foot traffic may be a good strategy to hold revenue, but another data set, like location data, may reveal more insights about net new traffic to your locations. What will drive that new customer acquisition?

Understand the long game

In the face of an uncertain data collection landscape, many marketers are chasing silver bullets. They are showing aggression in finding new solutions, but it’s with an unrealistic expectation. Finding a tool or data source that delivers a 30% to 50% lift will certainly look good, but it might be impossible to find.

The CMOs that hold onto their jobs longer are those that show success in bits and bites. They hit consistent singles, showing 5% lift here, 1% there, rather than try to hit that one big grand slam.

In the hunt for unique data sets, don’t set something aside if it fails to deliver a double-digit lift. Instead, think about ways to get a more holistic understanding of the customer and their journey that goes beyond the realm of “identifiers.” If you look for a band-aid on an already flawed solution, you’ll likely be tied to sub-par methods forever.