Smiling marketing professional discusses a data report with a colleague.
July 25, 2023

The 1-2-3 Guide to Data Driven Marketing in B2B

by Michael Brenner

Is your business executing data-driven B2B marketing? If not, the time is now to do it. Data enables you to optimize your marketing strategies and boost your results in every area—lead generation, campaign performance, conversion rates, engagement, and more.

Plus, it’s becoming a competitive imperative. Companies in every industry are leveraging data in their B2B marketing strategies to automate and scale. Those that lag on adopting the right tools and approaches to leverage data insights are at risk of being left behind at an increasing pace.

In this article, we’ll tell you exactly how data is playing a role in B2B marketing today, the types of data you should be tracking, and 5 steps to becoming more data-driven right away.

Quick Takeaways

  • Being truly data-driven means making data a top priority, generating valuable insights, and using data to innovate and acquire new customers.
  • Important types of data to collect and monitor include: customer behavior data, engagement data, website performance data, campaign performance data, and customer feedback.
  • It’s impossible to execute a data-driven B2B marketing strategy without technology tools like CMS and CRM systems, email marketing platforms, data analytics tools, and the like.
  • Employees are willing to develop new data skills when they’re given the opportunity.
  • To be most effective, data must be systematized and built into your marketing processes and strategy discussions.

Why Does Marketing Need to Be Data-Driven in 2023?

Data is the lifeblood of a good marketing strategy in 2023. It’s what allows marketers to execute modern, informed, targeted tactics that reach the right audiences and help to achieve reliable growth. Further, data is what allows for high levels of marketing automation, which streamlines time-consuming tasks and enables marketing execution at scale.

When your marketing teams are truly data-driven, you put data at the forefront of what you do, using it to generate valuable insights, drive innovative strategies, and win new customers.

Graphic highlighting what it means to be data-driven—placing data at the front and center of the work, utilizing data to generate insights, drive innovative change, and acquire new customers.

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For marketers, there are many specific and powerful ways to leverage data to drive business results. These include:

  • Understanding customer behavior and preferences
  • Segmenting audiences for targeted campaigns
  • Personalizing outreach for individual customers and segments
  • Predicting future trends and market dynamics
  • Tracking content engagement and strategy performance
  • Collecting customer insights and feedback
  • A/B testing to compare performance of two marketing elements

These and other data-driven B2B marketing use cases can make you better aligned with your customer audiences and competitive in your markets. In the next sections, we’ll dive deeper into the types of data to track and the right steps to implement more data-driven strategies for your business.

What Data Should You Be Tracking?

Customer Behavior Data

Customer behavior data is information and insights about customer actions, interactions, and preferences online. It includes data on how customers navigate websites, engage with content, make purchase decisions, and interact with products or services

It’s gathered through channels such as website analytics, CRM systems, customer surveys, and social media monitoring.

Customer behavior data is crucial because it allows you to understand and anticipate customer needs, preferences, and pain points. By analyzing this data, you can identify patterns and trends that provide insights into the buyer journey and decision-making processes of your customers. 

This knowledge helps you tailor your messaging, campaigns, and offerings to align with customer expectations and provide the right solutions to fulfill their needs.

Ultimately, by leveraging customer behavior data, you can build stronger relationships with your customers and enhance customer satisfaction over time.

Engagement Data

Engagement data is one of the main sources of insight into how your marketing campaigns are actually connecting to your audiences and attracting new potential customers.

It includes metrics that indicate how actively and deeply B2B audiences interact with marketing materials, campaigns, and brand touchpoints. It measures data points such as click-through rates, email open rates, time spent on websites or landing pages, social media interactions, and content consumption patterns.

By analyzing engagement data, you can understand how your target audiences are responding to your messaging, offers, and content, and optimize strategies for better results.

You can also use engagement data to refine targeting, personalize communications, and deliver more relevant and compelling content to different audiences. You can identify which channels, campaigns, or touchpoints are most effective so you can allocate marketing resources to better maximize ROI.

Website Performance Data

Believe it or not, website speed and performance can make or break a company’s ability to convert new leads. For example, an increase in page load time from just 1 to 3 seconds results in bounce rates jumping 32%—and the problem gets bigger as page load time gets slower.

Graphic listing how bounce rate increases as website page load time gets longer.

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It’s critical that you leverage your website performance data to continually optimize the brand interactions current and potential customers have with your business online.

Campaign Performance Data

Campaign performance data tells you how well specific marketing campaigns are performing— tactics like email marketing campaigns, targeted ad campaigns, content marketing, and more.

Marketing automation and software tools like website content management systems, CRM tools, email marketing platforms, and social media management platforms enable automatic data collection and analysis for these campaigns. Social media platforms also have built-in features that make it easy to monitor campaign performance in real time.

Tracking campaign performance data closely makes your business more responsive and able to quickly adjust strategies to maximize results (vs. waiting until the next campaign to improve).

Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is the clearest, most direct way to understand how your customers perceive your business and feel about their brand experience. It can be collected through direct methods like polls, surveys, and focus groups, as well as through third-party channels like review sites.

When you monitor and actively respond to customer feedback, you show customers that you prioritize their needs and are willing to take action to deliver the best possible solutions.

5 Steps to a Better Data-Driven Marketing Strategy

Identify Key Performance Indicators

To launch a data-driven B2B marketing strategy, you first need to know the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most to your business. Fortunately, there are tried-and-true KPIs that most marketers use for this purpose. They include:

This list isn’t exhaustive, but includes many of the most important KPIs marketers use today. As you may have already gathered, the way you prioritize your KPIs will depend on the specific marketing tactics you’re measuring (i.e. if you’re running a critical email marketing campaign, you’ll focus more on email engagement metrics).

For the best results, know the KPIs you want to measure at a high level, then create KPI reports for individual campaigns when you want to prioritize something specific.

Adopt the Right Tools

A data-driven B2B marketing strategy is impossible without the right technology tools in place to support it. You need to have a CMS and CRM system in place, automation tools for things like social media publishing and email marketing, as well as analytics tools to help you leverage sophisticated data analytics and insights.

Start by accounting for the tools you already have in place and be sure you’re using them to their fullest potential. Then, determine which new tools you need to adopt and build them into your marketing budget.

Level Up Your Team’s Data Skills

McKinsey reports that by 2025, successful companies will be data driven at every level. That means it’s not just your executive marketing leaders or high-level managers who need to be well versed in data. Every team member must understand how to leverage data in their work.

To enhance your data-driven B2B marketing efforts, level up your team’s data skills by providing professional development opportunities. Build data into everyday processes and discussions.  

Use features like data visualizations and dashboards to make data more approachable for your employees, and give everyone a seat at the table to offer their insight on how they are using it successfully.

The good news? Your employees will be ready to embrace data skills development. Research has found that employees want to update their skills and 71% even say it has increased their job satisfaction. 

Statistics highlighting that employees want to learn new skills, including that 71% say job training and development has increased their job satisfaction.

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Systematize Data

It’s important to systematize data across your internal marketing processes so that it’s used in a consistent way and can truly become a core component of your strategy. Think about and document how data fits into processes like strategy and campaign development, performance reporting, content ideation, lead generation, sales, customer support, and more.

While these aren’t all marketing-related functions, because marketing plays such a big role in collecting data, it must partner with other departments to make it strategically valuable.

Make Data Part of Strategy Discussions

Along the same line as systematizing data is making it a central part of strategy discussions. Key stakeholders such as C-suite executives won’t know the extent or value of your data collection if you don’t incorporate it into strategy discussions.

The best way to do this is to provide tangible reference points for talking about data during strategy meetings—use presentations, visualizations, reports, dashboards, and more as visible resources that guide conversations and decisions.

Over to You

Leveling up your B2B marketing strategy to be more data-driven can feel challenging because it comes with significant change. Your leaders and employees have to get on board, and it often comes along with the adoption of new tools, development of new skills, and implementation of new processes.

But the payoff that data can deliver makes the effort well worth it—you’ll be better able to target and connect with your ideal customers, refine and optimize your tactics, and maximize the ROI you get back from your time and resource investments.

Michael Brenner is a keynote speaker, author and CEO of Marketing Insider Group. Michael has written hundreds of articles on sites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Guardian and he speaks at dozens of leadership conferences each year covering topics such as marketing, leadership, technology and business strategy.