Like everything else, marketing has evolved over the last 10 years. In some ways, the marketing process has become a lot more complicated. Social media marketing, content marketing, inbound marketing, and outbound marketing have all become part of the marketing mix, which for many business-to-business marketers still includes the more traditional marketing channels.
At the same time, marketers have a lot more to work with than they did 10 years ago. Today, there is no shortage of data and marketing tools that marketers can use to define, target, and refine their marketing strategies.
A Wealth of Data Is Available
Just as buyers have access to all kinds of data to help them through the self-directed buying process, marketers can also leverage data to shape their marketing programs.
Effective marketers use structured and unstructured data that is readily available, or that they collect, to manage a conversation with a target audience through different stages of the self-directed buyer’s journey. Ideally, your marketing program should be leveraging data to shape your strategy, structure your messages, create the content the buyer will engage with, and inform your marketing tactics at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
No Shortage of Marketing Tools
Likewise, the tools marketers can use to establish, maintain, and evolve a marketing conversation have increased. Research shows that there are now more than 7,000 marketing tools available to marketers. Some tools are free and available to everyone. Others have a subscription fee attached to them. And others you have to buy a license to use.
But, despite the fact that there is so much potential to leverage marketing data with a variety of marketing tools, most marketers don’t use available data or tools effectively in their marketing program. Only 22 percent of marketers have data-driven marketing initiatives and only 21 percent of marketers are employing analytics to measure marketing ROI for all marketing engagement.
Either marketers are not aware of the data and tools that are available to them, or they don’t know where to begin.
For most of our engagements with business-to-business clients, we like to highlight four areas where data and tools can be leveraged effectively.
Focusing on the Basics
One of the key places to start using marketing tools that leverage data is in determining what the conversation with prospective buyers should be.
By analyzing market data that is readily available on the internet, you can get insights into the key topics you should be addressing in your content marketing plan. You can also get a good handle on some of the key words the industry uses in the ongoing conversation between buyers, sellers, and influencers. All of which provides the foundation for developing the key words and the key messages that you can use to attract self-directed buyers with your content.
Obviously, the process of attracting self-directed buyers starts by leveraging keywords to optimize website content with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, which ensure a site engages with a self-directed buyer and appears fairly high in the buyer’s search engine results page (SERP).
Once the keywords have been structured, the website has been optimized, and the marketing program has been rolled out, it’s a good idea to check how effective all those optimization efforts have been at positioning the company. One of the measures of effectiveness is share of voice.
Share of voice analysis measures how well marketing tactics are capturing a portion of the ongoing market conversation in a specific industry. It’s a measure of a brand’s visibility to self-directed buyers. The higher the visibility, or share of voice, the more likely the brand will be able to attract self-directed buyers.
Finally, we can also use a variety of digital marketing automation tools that leverage data to track the digital breadcrumbs of a self-directed buyer’s journey and manage the conversation with a contact once he or she has landed on a site.
It All Comes Down to Content
So, when it comes to the customer journey and marketing, there’s no shortage of data and tools available to help marketers establish a conversation with a potential customer, develop that conversation, and maintain it throughout the self-directed buyer’s journey.
But keywords, SEO, share of voice, and tracking customer behavior are just part of the equation. Data is important. Marketing tools make it easier to leverage data to make informed decisions and automate a few processes. But they are just marketing table stakes.
Content is the differentiator in every successful integrated marketing program. Effective marketing content must speak to the buyer’s need, address the key issues or pain points the buyer needs resolved, and present your differentiating value — from the buyer’s point of view.
It’s a Question of Balance
So, without content that will engage the interest of the target audience at every stage of the buyer’s journey, your marketing program will be ineffective. Likewise, if there is no strategy behind content development and how and when content is made available to a self-directed buyer, then all the marketing data and tools available are useless.
Ultimately, it’s the job of marketers to find the right mix of content, data, and tools that will achieve objectives by attracting potential customers, creating the right perception, keeping buyers interested, and guiding them through the buyer’s journey.
 “Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2019)”, chiefmartec.com, https://chiefmartec.com/2019/04/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2019/
 “18 Stats About Marketing Analytics That Will Make You Nervous”, LinkedIn, 2016, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/18-stats-marketing-analytics-make-you-nervous-andrea-berg