How tech marketers can use content to generate better buyer insights | Turtl
How technology marketers can use content to generate better buyer insights and own the customer experience...
*Research:* Finding opportunity in content insights
How technology marketers can use content to generate better buyer insights and own the customer experience
The customer insights gauntlet
How marketing can drive more business value
Tech marketers must pick up the insights gauntlet
To improve its strategic position within the business, marketing must capture useful data and translate insights into a language the business can use to nurture and close sales. This is no mean feat.
A recent study by Deloitte Insights found CMOs are suffering from a crisis of confidence. Only 5% feel highly confident in their ability to affect the strategic direction of the business. A key opportunity identified in the report is for the CMO to take ownership of the customer experience and to champion the voice of the customer across the business.
of marketers in tech struggle to generate insights from the content & experiences they create
Research done by Forrester on Turtl's behalf echoes the findings of the Deloitte Insights’ c-suite study. Almost 60% of marketing and sales leaders in technology companies believe marketing could most improve its position as a key driver of the business by providing sales teams with rich and reliable insights into prospects and buyers, especially ones that can help speed up sales cycles and grow customer lifetime value.
With so much of the tech buyer journey happening before a salesperson enters the stage, marketing, sales, and customer success and experience teams need to take a sledgehammer to the walls that have traditionally kept these functions siloed. Cue the rise of revenue operations, and at their center the demand for three particular kinds of information about the customer:
1. Profile information
The private data shared directly with a business through, e.g. form completions, and the data that can be extracted from public profiles: name, company, email, job title, location, bio.
2. Derived information
The kind of data derived or inferred from the contact's and company's profile and includes things like the likelihood to convert and predicted deal size.
We expect innovative, customer-delighting experiences to come to market that combine technology, creativity, and deep customer understanding.
Forrester Research, Predictions 2020
3. Contextual information
Data on the buyer's interactions with the organization and with the wider market. This is marketing's real opportunity to deliver value to the wider business in ways above and beyond customer profiling. Interactions are where the intent of a buyer surfaces and with it the type of insights that can help sales teams win business.
Digital content and experiences make up most of the interactions buyers and customers have with tech organizations, especially in B2B. Yet currently a massive 91% of marketers in tech struggle to generate insights from the content & experiences they create to support the business, according to Forrester's research on behalf of Turtl.
In this report, we examine the cause of these struggles and how marketing in tech organizations can navigate its way through current obstacles to capture and deliver customer insights and in doing so strengthen its strategic influence within the firm.
The struggle with insights
Why becoming data-driven is easier said than done
Tech marketers have not yet mastered the art and science of turning data into meaningful insights to drive business
Whether on the hunt for a new pair of headphones or a new customer data platform, people today have little patience with a poor purchasing experience.
The B2C industry has long caught on to the importance of customer experience (CX) with the likes of Apple paving the way, but as we kick off the new decade their B2B counterparts are at last equally focused on providing standout experiences. A recent survey by AdWeek and Dun&Bradstreet saw 80% of B2B marketers say delivering a consistent customer experience across channels is extremely or very important to their companies.
1 in 2
tech marketers struggle to gain insights from user interactions with content to support the selling process
The biggest obstacle to achieving CX success? Properly leveraging the data companies have access to. Almost 40% of tech marketers struggle to structure insights appropriately.
Poorly structured data and insights block marketers from providing the business with the kind of information needed to drive a customer-centered culture as well as what's required for marketers themselves to effectively execute omnichannel strategies.
"In order to provide exceptional customer experiences, data silos must be unified to gain a complete view of the customer," says Larisa Bedgood, VP of marketing for V12 Data. "Brands must be in control of their data at all times to derive insights into their customers’ likes, dislikes, behaviors, and potential purchases."
A third of tech companies surveyed by Forrester are struggling to connect a buyer's early interest to a specific product need, which means they can’t tailor the nurture path or sales conversations to the particular company or buying unit involved until further discovery has been undertaken. Making this connection early on could otherwise help shorten sales cycles and potentially increase customer value
In fact, sales teams in many tech companies are inadequately supported across the sales cycle by insights from marketing. More than half of those surveyed (55%) say marketing is not delivering useful outcomes, data or insights to help sales teams during early-stage prospecting. Two in five said the same about the stage when leads are being contacted and qualified and again at the stage of closing the sale.
With so many challenges gaining insights, it’s no surprise that more than a third of technology companies struggle to translate past buyer behavior to a predictable model of future buyer behavior.
No ROI without insights
Content ROI has become a growing priority across industries in recent years, but remains elusive for 2 in 5 technology companies surveyed by Forrester, as teams struggle to determine which content assets are most impactful in a buyer’s journey. This kind of insight is critical for:
Demonstrating the business value of content activities in order to claim more budget or objectively validate the role and value of content to the business
Prioritizing and creating more of the kinds of content that impact buyers the most
The desire to become insights-driven is universal, but so is the struggle to execute
Gene Leganza, Vice President, Research Director, Forrester
Why the struggle?
The main challenges facing technology marketers fall into three categories...
Collecting data and insights is not in itself an issue for tech marketers. Challenges arise when it comes to structuring the insights in a meaningful way, as discussed, and drawing a connection between what is being consumed and who exactly is consuming it. This points to an inadequately architected martech infrastructure.
System architecture challenges go beyond marketing operations. 54% of B2B leaders agreed in a survey by Episerver that their disparate/disjointed technology systems are holding their companies back from their digital agility goals.
Whether it’s time, skill, or money, the question of resource is another key challenge when it comes to generating insights from content. Two in five tech marketers surveyed by Forrester said they are unable to design the kinds of experiences that capture buyer feedback without the support of a developer.
Similarly, another 38% identified a lack of time or expertise to adequately go through buyer insights as a barrier. Data expertise has become critical, yet Gartner predicted that half of all organizations would lack sufficient AI and data literacy skills to achieve business value going into 2020.
Inadequate processes within tech companies are another barrier identified by respondents. How can marketing generate insights from content if they are disconnected from how content is delivered to the end reader, as reported by another two in five respondents surveyed (38%)? The same number noted that they do not tag their content in a way that creates insights through analytics or marketing platforms.
The insights opportunity
What's to gain from getting this right
What do sales and marketing functions in tech companies actually want to know?
1. Who, specifically, has a hand in the purchase decision and their roles in the process
Why is this useful?
Know where the power lies, who’s buy-in is most important and who’s pain points to prioritize. This can help sales teams reduce the length of the sales cycle by focusing efforts on the right people and their needs.
2. What the different buyers’ motivations are driving the purchase
Why is this useful?
Sales and marketers can be more persuasive in their communications and conversations by speaking to the specific motivations driving the buyer’s research and early interest in your product or service offering.
3. Which topics, problems, and products are of greatest interest to buyers
Why is this useful?
This kind of insight is required for personalizing communications and conversations to more effectively qualify and nurture prospects as well as create compelling customer experiences.
Insights from content interactions
can drive revenue
Your content can deliver much more than a useful answer to a prospect, buyer or customer's question. It can answer your questions too – if designed to.
By tracking which topics and types of content individual buyers interact with and engage with the most, marketers can discern buyer motivations, pain points, and product interests. These are precisely the kinds of insights that help both marketing and sales teams deliver more personalized customer experiences and conversations, resulting in business growth.
A practical example
It stands to reason that a buyer who spends 15 minutes reading your whitepaper on cloud security is more likely to be interested in your security offering versus the buyer who spent 1 minute skimming through security, but 10 minutes on your systems architecture brochure.
The conversations your sales team has with these two different buyers will be a lot stronger when armed with this insight. You also know which kind of case study you might want to send to their respective inboxes to nudge them closer to that conversation with sales.
More interactions = more insights
Interactive content presents more ways to collect insight and information about contacts, such as their answer to polls, their interactions with data sets and who they might be sharing content with (helping you to identify the wider buying unit).
Establishing a content machine that provides this kind of information for the business requires the use of a content marketing platform that can track known contact behavior within the content and integrate with customer relationship management systems (CRMs) and customer data platforms (CDPs) to build a shared source of truth about the buyer.
Strengthening marketing's position
Forrester's study found that 87% of the tech companies surveyed had implemented and 57% were planning to expand or upgrade their implementation.
The perceived benefits include improved ability to demonstrate ROI and business impact by connecting content to high-quality leads and business outcomes. Almost half (45%) said insights gained from content interaction have or are expected to elevate marketing's role in closing businesses and 42% that it would raise marketing's profile.
Creating a strong data ecosystem
Business intelligence and customer data platforms
As the marketing tech stack continues to grow, operations become more complex. Marketing needs to champion business investment in connecting up the different pipelines and systems of data across a business. Different insights can be layered to form a coherent and complete view of a given buyer and customer as possible.
Ideally, data integration and analysis should be done centrally, business-wide, with the help of a comprehensive business intelligence system. But marketers can more independently take steps to consolidate and integrate the streams of customer data they create from content and experiences and more readily control, for instance through a customer data platform.
Forrester predicts that advanced firms will double their data strategy budget in 2020, and that forty percent of firms will launch a data literacy lifeline to ensure survival.
Does your marketing function have a data strategy?
- Yes, it's an integrated part of the business-wide data strategy
- Yes, but it's not part of an integrated data strategy
- We're in the process of defining one
- No, but it's on the agenda for 2020
- No, and no current plans to shape one
The next 5 to 10 years will require major investments from enterprise companies to rewrite their data infrastructure to handle the growing needs for data and integration
Connecting your data
Building and making use of a robust data-ecosystem typically follows five stages
Bring together people from across functions to nail down what you want your data strategy to achieve. How will you know if it's successful? This could include increasing customer lifetime value, reducing sales cycles, increasing market penetration or reducing costs. Management buy-in is critical to establish a data-driven culture and give the project the weight and legitimacy it needs to take hold.
Identify the types of data you need to achieve the objectives outlined in stage one. Establish what data is currently being captured by the business and how these can be integrated, identify gaps and research potential sources to fill them.
3. Data architecture and analysis
Integrate all internal and external data required by the strategy into a single source where it can be explored and modeled to gain insights. This is where the fun really starts. You'll be able to find solutions to known problems but also uncover new and unknown opportunities for improvement.
4. Process design
Armed with data-based insights and knowledge pulled from your data, you're ready to start making operational changes to strengthen transparency, improve customer experience and design more effective ways of working.
Your data ecosystems need continual oversight.Update and evolve technologies and processes as needed. Outcomes need to be regularly reviewed and expectations managed.
Top business intelligence platforms
What's a BI platform?
Business intelligence platforms provide an architecture for data ecosystems. Businesses use them to analyze and visualize data from all kinds of sources across the company and beyond, extracting actionable insights that can inform and improve decisions and strategy.
G2 Score: 4.4/5
Domo creates a truly digitally-connected organization
G2 Score: 4.1/5
Governed self-service analytics at scale with Tableau Server
G2 Score: 4.4/5
Business intelligence, built on the platform for data
G2 Score: 4.4/5
Radically innovative business analytics
Microsoft Power BI
G2 Score: 4.3/5
Go from data to insight to action with Power BI Desktop
Top customer data platforms
What's a CDP?
Customer data platform (CDP) software are tools that give marketing teams a 360 view of the customer by grabbing information from multiple data sources, including first-party, second-party and third-party online and offline data. They are designed to create robust buyer profiles and help improve targeting for marketing companies .
G2 Score: 4.8/5
Highly personalized customer experiences for e-commerce businesses made simple
G2 Score: 4.0/5
Impact ready marketing platform that delivers results, fast
Tealium AudienceStream CDP
G2 Score: 4.4/5
Collect, enrich, and take action on your customer data
G2 Score: 4.3/5
Built for smart marketing teams
Segment - Personas
G2 Score: 4.7/5
Personalize every interaction.
Conclusions and methodology
Marketing must take ownership of customer insights
Marketing in tech companies can elevate its strategic position by owning customer insights and sharing actionable information with sales and customer service to help drive and win business. Current limitations around system architecture, resources, and processes are holding teams back. Companies must invest in data strategies to solve these or risk losing out in the battle for superior customer experience.
Interactive content can help unlock business growth
Interactive content experiences can help marketers capture the kind of contextual information the business needs about the motivations, interests, and make-up of the buying unit and as a result better nurture leads, demonstrate ROI, and drive revenue. Content platforms can accelerate success by simplifying how data is captured and disseminated across the business.
Invest in your data strategy and architecture
Champion the design of a business-wide data strategy with the systems to match in order to most effectively combine and distribute insights gleaned from content and interactions with the business as a whole. Where business-wide implementation proves difficult, marketers should explore customer data platforms, so that they can more effectively create and share robust buyer profiles to share with the business.
The charts and data points referenced in this report, unless otherwise stated, are part of the cross-industry research undertaken by Forrester for an Opportunity Snapshot commissioned by Turtl. You can view this report here.
To create this profile Forrester Consulting supplemented this research with custom survey questions asked of 214 B2B marketing and sales decision-makers in the UK and USA who are knowledgeable about or responsible for their firm’s content needs and strategy, 25% of which were from technology companies. The custom survey began in August and was completed in September 2019.