Salesforce Automation (SFA), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Point of Sale (POS) are all software solutions created to specifically track interactions and transactions with individual prospects and customers. With a database attached to each of them, it can be very tempting for B2B marketers to just tap that data for marketing purposes.
In fact, through interaction with my own clients, it seems like the majority of B2B marketers do just that — pull records right out of their Salesforce.com data, SAP or Oracle/Siebel data or other transactional data. But that’s not considered a best practice. Using these non-marketing databases removes some very essential insights from the marketing process.
My colleague James Pennington, VP of Business Development at Anderson Direct Marketing, has been railing on this issue for a long time, so I asked him to clarify why sales, CRM or transactional databases are not appropriate for use in marketing. Here is a summary of his response:
SFO is made up of a list of people who have responded to various marketing offers via email, direct mail, social media, or other channels. The business rules and the logic built into those programs do what they were designed to do — show individual sales people where leads, customers and prospects are in the buying cycle. The reports available from this software show management basically the same thing, but group that information by sales person, territory, and products, showing such important data as the length of the buying cycle.
CRM is different in the fact that acquisition information isn’t part of the software. CRM solutions are designed to help with customer retention, cross-selling, and upselling individual customers.
POS and other transactional solutions report what individual companies have bought and how long they have been customers. It flags opportunities to sell more and trends showing that a customer could be lost. These systems link directly to the back office and can track types of transactions by sales source and other important data.
But none of these databases do what marketing needs to do — look at groups for insight, not at individuals.
A marketing database needs to reveal the impact made by marketing in the simplest terms. This requires:
- Before-and-After Snapshots: Showing what a group of prospects looked like before they were targeted by a B2B marketing campaign. Basically, marketers want to take a snapshot of the records, market to those records, then take another snapshot of the data to see what changed. For example: Market to a group of prospects targeted by industry, company size, and other appropriate factors. None are customers. Retain that snapshot of that group. Then compare the first snapshot to a snapshot of the result of that marketing, i.e. 3% responded and .5% became customers. Marketing should be the reason those numbers changed. SFA, CRM and transactional databases don’t track the information needed for this insight. In addition, these snapshots need to be retained in the database.
- Response Mechanisms: Tracking how that group responded — mail, Internet, phone, fax.
- Result: Showing what that group downloaded or bought.
- Retention of Data: Retaining a pre-marketing snapshot of the data so it can be compared with a post-marketing snapshot of the data.
- Patterns: Tracking groups of contacts over time with historical data to show if they have been contacted once, twice, three times and how those groups have responded.
Marketing data is all about the big picture, not the individual. For B2B marketers to improve their success (internally and externally) in 2011, they should start by having their own data.