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A new international study launched today, conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Dun & Bradstreet, has shone a light on how companies are struggling to activate their data to address rising customer expectations.

It showed that, while sales and marketing teams put a high priority on using data and analytics to improve their business, most are not doing it effectively and lack a consistent data structure to link systems, making it difficult for teams to activate campaigns in a scalable way.

Although only 52% of decisions are currently based on data, the survey showed that the number one priority for sales and marketing teams over the next year is to increase their use of data and analytics to better meet business needs.

“Expectations are changing in the B2B buying process and sales and marketing teams need to adapt,” said Derek Slayton, General Manager of the Sales and Marketing Line of Business at Dun & Bradstreet. “B2B customers are looking to have more consumer-like experiences and take more control of their buying processes. To meet those demands, sales and marketing organisations must ensure they engage consistently with informed, relevant content that guides and informs buyers where, when and how they want it. Accessing, analysing and activating data across their efforts is the key to delivering a seamless customer experience that drives growth.”

People, Process, and Technology Challenges Stand in the Way

Businesses are still struggling to share data and insights across the organisation, resulting in a siloed effect that leaves customers with choppy and incomplete communications. 82% of respondents cited managing data across the business as a challenge. In addition, 80% said managing the volume and velocity of data as a challenge, making it difficult for most businesses to pull actionable insights from the data in order to take action and turn it into scalable customer engagement strategies.

The study found that the silos of data across technologies and the lack of a consistent data structure to link systems make it difficult for teams to activate campaigns in a scalable way. In order to overcome these data challenges, it’s imperative that teams re-wire their organisations for data activation success. To date, only 53% or less have adapted data-driven success factors like establishing systems of insight and expanding their abilities to source quality external data reliably.

Opportunity for Leading Firms

The study showed that organisations with data activation maturity were more likely to report increases across marketing/sales and customer metrics, with 73% reporting more rapid sales cycles, 73% reporting a higher return on marketing spend and 77% reporting increased customer retention and loyalty.

Mature organisations were more likely to engage with external partners for data and analytics services and have established systems of insight. Mature firms also set themselves up for success in the future. Over the next 12 months, they are more likely to prioritise efforts focused on improving key marketing and sales objectives, including digital selling, campaign attribution and account-based marketing efforts. They are also more likely to increase spending on systems of insight and on partners to help them optimise their data and data initiatives.

Partners and technology were found to be essential in helping companies along their data maturity journey. Respondents say that access to solutions with reporting/analytics, CRM integration and prospect research would be especially helpful in their efforts to improve their data activation practices.

“Customer data, harnessed effectively, can help advance many marketing and sales objectives,” said Slayton. “Those organisations who have mastered data activation across their organisations are seeing much higher returns than those who are still struggling to harness the power of the data and analytics for their businesses.”

To download The B2B Data Activation Priority study, go to:

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