3 Ways B2B Companies Can Manage Big Data

A recent emarketer article highlights the data overload that B2B marketers are currently experiencing. The study by econsultancy focused on web analytics data, which has been available for quite some time, and did not even address the volume of social media data that is available. A majority of the marketers surveyed indicated that less than half of the data collected is useful for making business decisions.

This type of response is more common than people realize as we all wade through too much data. If we are able to collect data, often we do before determining its business value. And B2B marketers who have wrangled their data into manageable reports just don’t understand how difficult this is for others. The same is true on the other side, where those who can’t figure this out do not see an easy path to enlightenment. With this in mind, here are 3 ways to better understand your data, whether from web analytics or social media or even from across your whole marketing mix, to make better business decisions.

1. Focus on business objectives

Even though it is easier to track followers, likes, clicks and page views, it is unlikely that any of those measurements relate to your B2B companies business objectives. Those are likely to be things like generate leads, acquire new customers, retain existing customers and improve customer satisfaction. You can certainly track the softer things mentioned above, because these tactics behind them drive your real metrics. You need to know how much traffic you are driving to a landing page and what sources those come to optimize all steps in the process, but this is not where your reporting should end. Followers are not leads. Page views are not leads. Facebook likes are not new customers. Report on the end goals, not the tactics to get there.

2. Get everyone to agree

If you are trying to make sense of big data and developing reports that track your success metrics, make sure everyone agrees with the reporting structure and how the numbers are being reported. They also need to agree on what success looks like. One place to start, if you looking for quick executive buy-in, is with your traditional reporting and metrics for other marketing efforts and campaigns. Sharing web numbers or social media numbers alongside numbers that people are used to seeing, and in the same format will help them understand what they are looking at. This will also give you an agreed upon starting point for the numbers to use.

3. Don’t set it and forget it

Once you start distributing reports, others will comment on what you are reporting and may ask you to change what you are looking. This happens even after everyone agrees, as stated above. But the bigger issue is that once you start measuring and reporting, you may need to refine what you are tracking. You may find that your metrics don’t mean what you think they mean. Or maybe it turns out that you can’t have any effect on the metrics, so it is informational, not actionable. You might still want to include it, but the focus on these kinds of numbers change.

How have you managed to report your success as the volume of data has increased for B2B companies?