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B2B Customer Data Optimization: Fixing the Leaks in Your Data House

Traditional point data solutions and strategies aren’t built for B2B businesses. How can consumer products companies turn customer insights into action given the complexities of B2B ecosystems?

As D2C and B2C e-commerce continues to grow, the B2B sector is not far behind. From fleet management companies to hospitals to restaurants, business customers across industries expect the same level of digital maturity and personalization from their suppliers that they experience as consumers. 

While many B2B consumer products (CP) companies have achieved sales growth using instinct, legacy relationships and historical data, real-time insights and predictive analytics are becoming a baseline requirement for B2B customer experience. 

Yet, a lack of usable first-party data from customers and consumers is preventing many CP companies from keeping up with digital expectations. Without a strong data foundation, competitors can take advantage of easy opportunities to benefit from buyers who are willing to shift their allegiance (and purchasing power).

Through the implementation of a data modernization strategy, companies can unlock more value from customer data platforms (CDPs), reducing marketing and acquisition costs while increasing revenue and retention.

Why B2B CP companies should rethink their first-party data strategy

While most B2B CP firms have implemented or have considered implementing a customer data platform (CDP), the industry is being impacted by several strong trends that are forcing incumbents to go back to the drawing board when it comes to their customer data strategy.

40% of Martech decision-makers hope to get improved first-party data ownership from their CDP investments in the future.

1. Changing regulations: Signal depreciation, including the loss of cookies in Google Chrome’s browser, and strengthening privacy regulations are prompting marketers to invest more heavily in collecting and managing first-party data. Many existing data management technologies can’t directly integrate with first party data or don’t adhere to data privacy laws.

What’s needed:

A permission-based data relationship strategy and consent management platforms.

2. New players, new offers and disintermediation: To compete with new digitally native players, CP companies are forming direct relationships with their customers and reducing their reliance on third-party sellers, through B2B marketplaces and digital commerce platforms. Brands with successful first-party data acquisition strategies have seen strong sales growth, and believe first-party data offers the highest increase in customer lifetime value. 

What’s needed:

Fresh first-party data acquisition strategies aligned with marketing and sales priorities.

3. Evolving customer needs and expectations: B2B customers increasingly demand digitally-enabled sales experiences, drawing from rising expectations as consumers. This means that B2B customers expect buying experiences to be personalized, from targeted media to 1:1 campaigns. B2B brands are no longer just competing on customer experience with companies in their industry, but also with the likes of Amazon, Uber or Apple.

What’s needed:

An iterative test, measure and learn cycle to determine which personalization use cases and customer segments should be scaled and prove value quickly.

4. Technology shifts: While CDPs are supposed to store and analyze data from disparate sources, create unified profiles and respond in real time, many companies are finding that their current CDP solutions don’t fulfill their current and future goals. In fact, only around one-third (36%) of CDP owners say their Martech solution can help provide customers with connected experiences, and around one-fourth (28%) say it has the ability to get advanced insights via machine learning.

What’s needed:

Clarity around current state data capabilities, future state and road map, along with a value management framework to gain buy-in and drive execution.

The unique B2B data analytics challenge for CP companies

There are a variety of reasons why CDPs aren’t meeting marketers’ needs, from lack of clarity, lack of management buy-in and lack of integration with the right data channels (registrations, web analytics, chatbot interactions, etc.).

There are also several unique challenges that B2B CP companies are facing with CDP implementation, making the implementation roadmap even more important:

1. Identifying the decision makers:

In the B2B world, customer experiences are varied and buyer personas are in flux. A 360 profile in a CDP needs to be progressive, to account for different buyer roles throughout the company, as well as changes when customers leave the company or change positions.

2. Personalization:

When it comes to marketing personalization, compared to B2C companies, many B2B organizations don’t have nearly as much first-party or third-party data to accurately tailor their messaging to different roles, companies, or sectors. B2B companies need to think realistically about how first-party data acquisition strategies match up to personalization goals.

3. The value exchange:

While B2C companies can access first-party data and demographic information through gamification, prizes and social profiles, B2B firms are more limited to customer data through newsletter sign-ups, gated content or customer feedback.

4. Multiple brands and categories:

CP companies with economies of scale have to determine how to unify and integrate customer data across different brands and categories, balancing complexity with potential business value. It’s even more important to define new ways of working and operating to ensure data compliance and security.

5. Turning insights into action:

Personalization is often a new concept for B2B sales and marketing processes, and even if a CDP is installed it often goes underutilized. Lack of tech talent, resources and ample buy-in prevents customer insights from influencing sales. B2B companies with relationship-based direct sales models need to decide how customer insights will influence the sales rep employee journey.

The first step in addressing these B2B challenges is defining and prioritizing customer data use cases along with their functional requirements, and determining what data is essential to achieve success with those use cases.

B2B CDP use cases for CP companies

While every company is different, there are some common high-priority use cases for customer data across B2B CP clients. 

1. Pricing optimization: Pricing optimization for B2B companies needs to account for complex relationships with business customers, including long-term contracts and multi-level pricing decisions for purchases. Modern CDPs can leverage machine learning to factor in external and internal data with appropriate guardrails for dynamic pricing.

2. Loyalty engagement: B2B loyalty programs require tailored messaging to successfully drive engagement without oversaturating customers with content. Unifying customer profiles within a CDP allows companies to avoid duplicate reach-outs and improve engagement rates.

3. Personalized campaigns: Unlike B2C marketing, B2B companies rely more heavily on personalized 1:1 campaigns, indicating a more significant need for up-to-date customer contact information stored in CDPs.

4. Product recommendations: As digital commerce becomes a standard for B2B CP firms, intelligent product recommendations will begin to replace sales rep recommendations from in-person conversations. Normalizing customer information across data sources through a CDP creates more accurate product recommendations that can improve over time.

Case study: How one CP solved the plumbing problems in its B2B data house

When it comes to CDP implementation, it’s crucial for CPs to start with an overarching strategic vision and common goal. 

One leading personal care and beauty company implemented a CDP with the goal of leveraging personalized recommendations to increase conversion and revenue. 

However, the company was held back by:

● An outdated operating model 

● Manual and fragmented processes

● Customer data from brand experiences residing in silos

● Inaccurate segment lists creating multiple profiles of the same customer

To address these issues, the company implemented a new first-party data strategy and CDP to normalize and graph all fragmented customer information scattered across data sources into a centralized low-latency graph database. 

This created unique Client IDs and 360-degree views of customers, enabling the company to capture real-time customer interests, emotions and habits to feed into marketing campaigns. The new technology also required change management across operations and new marketing processes to incorporate insights.

This CDP delivered massive increases in sales for the post-purchase segment, and over 52% conversion rates for the replenishment segment to over $2 million in incremental revenue. 

How Publicis Sapient can help

To successfully drive value from a CDP implementation, B2B organizations must take a measured approach that addresses data strategy holistically, from the technical architecture to the company’s operating model to talent and resources and first-party data collection.

Publicis Sapient’s global B2B center of excellence works with global B2B brands to become algorithmic enterprises and bring data and data platforms to life. 

Get in touch to drive value with a CDP.

Visit our B2B Digital Transformation Hub

Ruba Farah
Ruba Farah
Principle, Data Strategy
Amanda Glassberg
Amanda Glassberg
Director, Data Strategist