Why B2B marketers need a customer data platform

  • Posted on April 14, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Avanade’s B2B Customer Data Platform

This article was originally written by Avanade alum Timur Asar.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve received a staggering number of sales and marketing emails this past year.

Among the trade show cancellations and postponed events notifications, businesses have started offering new ways of engaging online. Product demonstrations have taken place over video conferencing software. Events have become webinars. Everything has gone digital.

As B2B sellers, we are all having to be more creative in how we get our products and services in front of buyers. Sales avenues may have narrowed, and the lack of physical events has put downward pressure on leads and meetings. But new change always comes with new opportunity.

There’s never been more readily available data flowing between B2B buyers and sellers.

The question now is: how do you stay on top of it all and really put this data to use?

Reveal actionable insights faster with a customer data platform
Especially in the last 12 months, as most customer interactions are taking place online, marketing efforts have been driven by a need to provide powerful, personalized customer experiences across digital channels.

Delivering this tailored experience requires a strong digital experience foundation to help you manage and deploy content with ease. However, you can only make that content truly personalized once you get to know your customer data.

All too often, B2B customer data is siloed within a variety of applications and only available to certain siloes of the organization. 62% of companies report this being the case. For example, your business may have a CRM system and, more than likely, it is owned and operated largely by your sales organization. You are also likely to have an ERP system holding product and transactional data from across your brick-and-mortar points of sale and digital sales channels (or both). When combined, all your systems hold massive amounts of data. But it’s not always easy to get hold of it.

Imagine if anyone who needed data (sales, marketing, customer service agents, and so on) could access all that invaluable customer data from any device, whenever they needed to. And what if that data was accessible in real-time, contextualized, visualized, and contributed to a ‘single customer view’ profile?

This is the beauty of a customer data platform. Much more than any one of these business applications on their own, a customer data platform is a living, persistent and unified database that could help you overcome some of our current challenges in the B2B space.

But it’s important to ask, “is a customer data platform right for my business?”

  1. Do you want to deliver a more consistent B2B buying experience?
    To succeed today, businesses need to take a holistic approach to customer data. A customer data platform will help marketing, sales and IT teams deliver consistent, multi-channel experiences, combining ‘pseudonymous behavior data’ (that’s factors like search ads clicked, website visits and email opens) with ‘personal attribute data’ (the concrete facts you know about a person) to provide a more complete profile of the customer, no matter where or how contact is made.

    This profile can then be accessed, in real-time, by whichever team or application requires it, allowing staff to reach out with consistent messaging based on all the interactions that have come before.

  2. Are you seeking to blur the lines between marketing and sales?
    With a customer data platform underpinned by a strong strategy in place, it becomes much easier to bring together marketing, sales and other areas of the business into one focused effort.

    Sales wins can be more clearly attributed, for example, to specific interactions or campaigns thanks to visualized journey mapping. This also allows teams to react faster – and with more confidence – to emerging opportunities and conversations.

    Centralized data means that KPIs can be aligned, which is crucial to success. Instead of measuring marketing by leads and sales by conversions, a customer data platform-centric strategy gives every team a fixed goal to work towards and greater oversight of how they are achieving it.

  3. What’s the ROI?
    As with any investment, you need to take a good, long look at your operations, goals and business requirements before making your move.

    Ask yourself, what ROI would you expect from a customer data platform implementation? What role will it play in your current – or future – commercial strategy? What gaps can it fill during a time in which normal routes to market have been restricted?

    A customer data platform, alongside an effective strategy, can contribute to audience expansion, retargeting and remarketing capabilities, more effective content personalization, audience retention and many other benefits.

    There is certainly a strong case for investment in such platforms, especially at a time in which consistent multichannel communications are so vital. But each business will have its own goals, customer bases and strategies in place that will influence the customer data platform’s impact.

    It’s perhaps an obvious point to make (but an important one nonetheless) that the value of a customer data platform will be found in its execution, not just its implementation. Ongoing optimization will be needed to realize its full potential.

    I’d suggest starting small and iterating, beginning with a small pilot to prove value. At Avanade, we can help you begin your journey to full customer data platform deployment and can offer an impressive ROI through our partner Adobe.

Maximize customer data platform benefits for your business
For businesses that have already implemented a customer data platform solution, the benefits are plain to see. Research suggests that B2B businesses that have deployed, or are planning to deploy a customer data platform are most satisfied with their martech.

Customer data platforms can open doors to new opportunities and greater efficiencies. It’s important to maximize this kind of investment and cascade the benefits across your business. If you’re thinking of taking the next big step in your organization’s evolution, reach out to us at Avanade. We’ll work with you to find the best way forward and make the most out of your customer data platform investment.

Where are you on your digital experience journey? I’d love to hear from you and what your experience has been.

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