Most business-to-business marketers - a worrying 87% - have little confidence in their customer data, according to a survey by B2B database marketing provider Extraprise, conducted at the 2006 DM Days NY Conference and Expo.
Chad Gottesman, chief marketing officer for Extraprise, explained that many B2B marketers are simply overwhelmed with issues related to the quality of customer data and don't know how to begin solving the problem. As Gottesman warned, "Data problems continue to grow, resulting in insufficient customer knowledge that leaves the B2B salesperson at a disadvantage when interacting with customers."
Over half (54%) of B2B companies surveyed indicated that a lack of sales and marketing collaboration is their most important marketing challenge. A smaller proportion (only 52%) claimed to have any integration between their sales and marketing systems. More than one-third (39%) indicated that data-related issues were the next major challenge facing their marketing efforts.
Areas for improvement
Companies that are trying to gain confidence in their customer databases will need to bridge the gap between the sales and marketing functions by improving several key areas, the study report suggests:
Data is the starting point for most marketing improvement projects. To improve marketing, you can't achieve anything with inadequate, incomplete, or incorrect data.
Data is not static. So the next area in which to invest is a continuous process to capture, correct, and standardise customer data. This means feeding the right data sets to the right people and departments at the right times.
Automate as many steps in this process as possible. Focus internal investments on the overall mission, and seriously consider outsourcing the necessary activities and IT systems to make it happen.
- People Focus on the highest value insights and automate the key processes, using existing expertise and execution teams (whether outsourced or in-house).
Other topics covered by the survey included how many disconnected data sources cover some aspect of their customers (it turned out that 59% had data in at least four different locations, while 18% had 5 - 10 locations, and 23% had more than 10 data locations).