How CDPs fit within a B2B marketing strategy
Red Hat's Joel Eaton helps marketing and sales teams protect their data investment
More organizations have been implementing CDPs over the last year, and these platforms can help bridge the gap between marketing and sales, especially in the B2B realm, where contacts and customer data can get messier and more drawn out than with their B2C counterparts.
Joel Eaton, data architect with open source enterprise software vendor Red Hat, took some time at MarTech to map out CDP technology and show how it can facilitate communication and data sharing between marketing and sales teams.
Why B2B marketing is more complicated than B2C
According to Eaton, Red Hat doesn’t currently use a CDP, but is considering it. “Our project is sort of sharing data between our marketing applications in similar ways to what a CDP would do,” he said.
“For your typical B2C ecommerce retailer, CDPs can work great and solve a lot of problems right out of the box,” Eaton explained. “A CDP can consolidate your customer data into a single universal platform. It unifies and personalizes the customer experience across all digital and marketing touchpoints, including sales and post-sales, customer service, etc.”
What works for this classic B2C use case is that the individual that the system encounters as a customer is also the one who makes the purchase. Ecommerce customers go through a shorter sales cycle than typical B2B purchases, and the complexity is primarily the number of channels on which a single user is contacted at the top of the funnel. The CDP combines those engagements into a single profile.
For B2B marketing, the sales cycle is scattered across multiple decision makers within an organization. Or, conversely, a single contact within an organization could serve in a dozen different roles or functions, many of which don’t apply to the business service or product about which a marketer or sales person is trying to contact them. Such a person could be included on different accounts, and it’s up to the marketers, and the systems they use, to keep it all straight.
“Those accounts are not all the same,” Eaton said. “They are owned and handled by different teams, and they can’t be effectively combined in the same way a [cpnsumer] profile can.”
Bridging domain gaps between marketing and sales
It’s easy to imagine marketing and sales teams within an organization having a meeting about a major new customer or prospect. Over the course of an hour, the people in the room could brief each other on the key contacts they had made, and flesh out a strategy for next steps. But this simply doesn’t work at scale. The marketing and sales tech has to know about the history of all the contacts, and put all of this data into context in order for it to be actionable by sales and marketing.
“Different teams within your organization can have a relationship with the same person but think of them in different ways,” said Eaton.
Furthermore, Eaton insisted, marketing and sales teams each have different vantage points, and use different languages. This is especially the case within the digital domain, which is really two separate domains — the sales domain and the marketing domain. In order for data to be shared between these domains, it has to carry with it the correct context.
For instance, Eaton pointed out that in the marketing domain, a “contact” is generally any user with an email or social media account who’s been contacted by the organization. In the sales domain, however, a contact is a known person within an active customer account.
“I can’t just start shipping data between our domains without making sure the producers and consumers of that data know exactly what they’re sending and what the other side is getting,” Eaton said.
He added, “[As a marketer], you’re not sending your leads from a marketing contact management platform to a sales CRM. [Instead], you’re sending leads across a domain boundary.”
Using definitions to control the data flow
According to Eaton, CDPs create a new paradigm for sending data down the marketing funnel. To leverage this opportunity, members of sales and marketing teams should follow some guidelines about how to define their data.
- Define your data in terms of the boundary. Leads that pass from marketing to sales should include data that is relevant to sales. What data is sales looking for?
- Enforce the same data definitions upstream. When marketing acquires contact data from ads, homepages, social media platforms and other sources, it should define the data clearly across all domains.
- Call the data what it is. Each field of data should describe precisely what the data is, without leaving anything out. For instance, the field for a phone number should be defined leaving no mystery. It isn’t just a number, it’s a “mobile phone number with country code.”
- Use clear definitions to help with privacy compliance. A field ambiguously called “status” could be misinterpreted in sales or marketing domains. Instead, data tied to a particular customer in a CDP should leave no question if the individual has opted out or has given consent to further data sharing.
“CDPs are great for wrangling customer data at the top of the funnel,” said Eaton. “But in order to see a return on our marketing investment, it is important to know and control exactly which data flows downstream into other contexts. To do that, you’ll need to control your customer data at the source, a problem CDPs were built to solve.”
If you can’t control the flow of your data, you lose your investment. CDPs can help protect that investment while bridging the gap between the marketing and sales teams.