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Three Ways a Unified Customer Profile Gives B2B Brands a Competitive Edge

Register for our upcoming webinar with Lori Wizdo, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst serving B2B Professionals.

No one wants to be treated like a sales opportunity, yet the B2B marketing landscape is covered with generic experiences that don’t speak to buyers’ needs.

Why does this happen? The typical B2B marketing “stack” is composed of 12 technologies,  including lead management, multichannel campaign management and customer relationship management. Keeping track of all of the customer data collected and processed by these systems is a complex job. For enterprises with multiple brands in a portfolio, this complexity multiplies exponentially.

Given this tangled web of technologies, it’s easy for customer data to end up locked away in silos, resulting in an incomplete view of the customer for the B2B vendor. In fact, fifty-five percent of the respondents in a recent B2B survey said an inability to merge information from disparate silos in a timely manner was hobbling their initiatives. This makes perfect sense. If you don’t know who is engaging with your brand, personalizing their experiences in meaningful ways becomes impossible.

What’s the solution to this problem? Centralizing customer data into single unified profiles to build a 360-degree view of every customer. Orchestrating these profiles into other platforms, applications and services can then power customer engagement solutions with accurate, permission-based data.

Let’s dive into the details of how to build these single unified profiles and explore how this lets B2B marketers treat people like people, not generic sales opportunities.

Features of a Customer-Centric Data Architecture

To truly put your business customers’ needs first, you need a customer-centric data architecture. This means placing a single, unified data store at the center of your technology stack to act as the source of truth for every business user who engages with your digital ecosystem.

This centralized platform can help your organization:

  • Transform business user data from all the systems in your tech stack into unified profiles for each customer
  • Orchestrate the profile, or specific attributes within it, across the business by bidirectionally synchronizing data with any application, service or data layer in your digital technology landscape, including back office systems such as ERP or MDM
  • Govern your business user profiles throughout their journey, along with consent records and communications preferences (e-mail or SMS) and other custom marketing activities

These business customer profiles can build over time through interactions across touchpoints to include a range of attributes that directly impact operations, sales and marketing. Examples include (but are not limited to): identity data, consent agreements, communications preferences, contract status, “Sold To” contact information and “Ship To” location. This data can provide business customer insights not only to marketing campaign performance but also to overall business performance by the partner. This rich profile data could also be combined with transactional and operational data for robust reporting and analytics that better identify growth opportunities.

Benefits of a Unified Profile: Three Examples

With unified profiles acting as the single source of truth for your business customers’ data, your analytics will return more reliable, accurate and actionable insights. Let’s look at three examples.

1) Pharmaceutical companies drive more revenue through accurate recommendations and personalization.

Data quality is one of the biggest roadblocks to the success of recommendation and personalization. If data is stored in silos spread across the business, improving data quality through cleanses and deduping becomes time-intensive and costly.

Intelligent pharmaceutical companies store health care provider (HCP)  and hospital data as unified profiles. This streamlines efforts to cleanse the data and makes mapping consent for data processing much easier. Then, using extract, transform, and load (ETL) features, they can feed quality, first-party data into machine learning programs.

As a result, they can achieve personalization at scale through more effective audience segmentation, more relevant content for websites and email campaigns, and more real-time, individualized information served to their specific healthcare audiences. The bespoke digital experiences these capabilities unlock is the key to differentiating against competitors, winning market share and reducing customer churn.

2) Corporate travel agencies earn more customer trust through permission-based personalization.

Businesses across the globe can no longer consider consent and preference data as an afterthought. With the EU now enforcing the GDPR, and with a slew of other regional data privacy laws following in short order, managing the consent to receive marketing communications, along with the data subject’s frequency and channel preference, is now an imperative for any company looking to protect its business from regulatory risk.

Smart businesses are seizing the moment to go beyond mere compliance and refocus their digital strategies to put the customer first. In the B2B space, for example, corporate travel agencies are asking for consent from business customers to send them travel alerts, as well as their preferred communication channels. This data gets stored in their users’ unified profiles. If an alert is necessary, verifying customers’ consent and preferences and notifying them can happen in real time. These instant notifications help to earn customers’ trust and can help travel and hospitality businesses stand out in a crowded field against competitors with less advanced capabilities.

3) Reducing friction in the reordering process for oil and gas customers.

Conditioned by their consumer experiences, business customers expect excellent digital experiences from their vendors. This is demonstrated in a 2017 B2B survey that found the three top reasons for customers preferring online transactions were:

  1. Ease of purchasing, cited by 72% of respondents
  2. Not having to wait for a sales rep, 52%
  3. Real time insight into available inventory and delivery times, 42%

For oil and gas distributors who serve consumers by selling through gas stations and other retail outlets, the final price of an order depends on several factors: the location of the station, the commodity price and current supplies, just to name a few. Still, gas station partners expect reordering to be smooth, accurate and fast. If they have to fill out complex forms or wait for price quotes, they’ll look for another distributor.

Distributors who use a gas station’s unified profile to support a digital order, however, reduce the friction in the experience. The station manager can seamlessly log on to the distributor’s web portal which already knows his information, including his location, account status and recent buying history etc. The price of the order can be quoted in real time, thanks to an integration with the distributor’s ERP. The end result: the manager can take care of the order in just a few clicks and the distributor earns continued business.

Our Upcoming Webinar Will Provide More Insights

As the examples above show, the tremendous value of the unified customer profile in the B2B setting lies in its ability to drive permission-based personalization at scale. With this strategy and data architecture, you’ll build more business customer trust and speak to them as people, not generic sales opportunities.

To get more insights into building trusted B2B relationships, register for our upcoming webinar with Forrester VP and Principal Analyst, Lori Wizdo.

Register Now!

By Sonny Dasgupta

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