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4 steps B2B marketers can take to win in a privacy-first era

By Mike Weir | Chief revenue officer

February 8, 2022 | 7 min read

B2B marketers, listen up. If you focus on just one trend, it should be getting your data game down, because intelligence sources are changing rapidly thanks to Apple’s app tracking policy change and web browser cookies going away, writes G2’s Mike Weir.

The data privacy shifts at hand will limit B2B advertisers’ ability to track their target audiences across the web and mobile devices, personalize messages and measure campaign performance. So, marketers will have to be smarter about data and the platforms they use to engage prospects and customers. This is a huge moment for a company’s first-party and second-party data sets and alternative intelligence sources.

B2B marketers have always had built-in challenges compared to B2C counterparts. Deals can take one to nine months (or more) to close; rather than an individual consumer, B2B marketers have to influence multiple decision makers. It’s not like selling a hoodie or even a streaming subscription – these are often software decisions with price tags of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that can cost people their job if implementation doesn’t go right.

Privacy

Building trust is imperative and data can help sellers in powerful ways make buyers feel comfortable about their decision pre-purchase, during implementation and post-implementation. But again, the world is changing quickly due to privacy-first policies. Here are four steps B2B marketers can take to win in this emerging era.

1. Build a data culture

Indeed, brands that have a data culture stand the best chance of building the sales and marketing tech stacks the right way. To best harness their data, B2B companies need to have a data culture that is led top-down, from the CEO, CRO, CMO and CTO to their teams across the globe.

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The first benefit of building a data culture is better serving the customer. If everyone is aligned on why data is important, what data is important, how it is being used and how it can be used in the future, the CX is bound to be better. The second benefit will be to ensure that people respect data, adhere to industry standards and internal policies about how data is being used and treated. And, of course, data is the key to effectively managing your business and creating positive outcomes. This mindset is crucial in a privacy-led world.

2. Embrace buyer intent

Today’s B2B advertisers should leverage buyer intent data – a type of second-party data that is driving platforms such as LinkedIn and others to record heights. Your marketing and sales team can experience their own gains by embracing this intel.

What does it look like in action? Let’s say a marketing team works for a point-of-sale software supplier. If they can leverage buyer intent data via advertising, it allows them to zero in on the right 100 retail or restaurant chief technology officers who are actually in-market for POS software instead of taking a list of 10,000 companies you think are good targets. When faced with fixed budgets, you need to invest in building trust with your key demographic personas, but you must focus on earning mind share with who’s in consideration right now or in the near future. Buyer intent will help marketing and sales teams zero in on the right prospects and hit their ROI goals.

3. Lean into first-party data; mesh with other opt-in intel

With cookies crumbling and lookalike audiences going out of vogue for B2B players, first-party data has become imperative to your business. Obviously, via email, text and other channels, sales and marketing teams can build strong, 1:1 relationships with customers and prospects. The key will be for marketing and sales to look at the same first-party data and marry that with second-party buyer intent data, so when qualified leads are generated, the sales team can accurately and intelligently pick up the conversation where marketing left it. In other words, they need to be in sync about what first-party and second-party data is telling you about the customer/prospect.

Further, even with more privacy policies, B2B brands can marry permission-based third-party data – where the viewer has accepted cookies – from other sources with their first-party data to get a better understanding of their customer. Audience segments and buyer cohorts are still part of the marketplace for platforms that get user consent. Therefore, building a marketing stack that can make sense out of layers of data remains a challenge in the space. It’s why big brands like Coca-Cola are hiring data analysts and data scientists.

4. Create a data cloud

Last, but certainly not least, marketing and sales organizations need to build an internal, centralized data cloud that can help them analyze customer and prospect engagement. This system will allow teams to take action and ensure they know where the customer or prospect is in the purchase journey, allowing reps to provide the most relevant and helpful information.

B2C brands such as Asics are using a data cloud to improve their marketing personalization across apps and websites, and B2B marketers can do the same. What’s more, building a data cloud gives marketing and sales organizations ownership over how their intelligence is processed and secured.

All that said, 2022 is likely going to be a historic year for B2B marketers to up their data skills. B2B e-commerce is now a $26.7tn industry, as buyers have become more comfortable using their company credit cards to make their purchases and moving on to the next task. This trend, coupled with the privacy-first policies that are emerging, means marketers need to sharpen their data game to get a healthy slice of emerging ecommerce as well as offline sales.

Mike Weir is chief revenue officer at G2.

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