This is part of series where we interview experts and influencers in the data technology space.
As B2B marketers, we need good intelligence to market our ware effectively. And despite the increasing availability of customer data and rise of tech that helps us make sense of all the data, a recent survey by the Marketing Technology Industry Council found that B2B marketers are no better off than they were two decades ago.
In fact, B2B marketers continue to struggle with how to leverage “big data” itself.
Recently, we set down with Matt Carter, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Chef to hear his view on how B2B marketers can really start to put all the pieces of data puzzle together to form a coherent, accurate picture of their audiences.
As a veteran in the B2B marketing space who’s worked on products for developers and IT audiences at leading tech companies in the world (i.e. Microsoft, Hortonworks), Matt has a wealth of knowledge to share around utilizing data to understand customers and design amazing experiences.
1. Tell us a bit about your current role. How did you end up there?
I joined Chef a couple of months ago this year to lead developer marketing. Chef is a company that makes Continuous Automation software that helps development teams deliver software at speed.
This role is a natural progression for me. I’ve worked with developers and IT pros my whole career, and I care about giving these professionals the tools and knowledge to be successful in their careers.
I love it when I can make someone successful in a personally meaningful way. For example, helping them get stuff done faster so they can leave work on time!
I like that as a marketer, I have the opportunity to harness signals, such as data from people’s content consumption patterns, to infer what they are looking for and identify how we can really help them improve their job and even their quality of life.
2. What roles will data play in the future of businesses?
I see two key roles for data in the next few years:
a. Data helps us answer questions like how are things working? What content are customers consuming? What are the benchmarks for site performance, content performance, etc? Tracking metrics and benchmarking are a diagnostic key that is vital for any organization in the SaaS space.
b. Data is a great enabler – it allows us to pursue a hypothesis and conduct experiments. Data gives you a framework for testing. People are afraid of failing, but with data as a foundation, it’s much easier to say “let’s try this”, because you can quickly tell if your hypothesis is working or not and optimize from there.
Data can embolden people to shake things up a little bit.
For example, at Chef, we found that developers work in a very nonlinear fashion. What the data told us is that our customers did not follow the content journey the marketing org envisioned.
The Marketing org had a great funnel structure we used to guide our content decisions. We thought that a prospect would read certain “initial” learning pieces before they look at product-focused content like case studies.
In reality, customers would “jump ahead” right into case studies before they looked at other “initial” learning pieces.
With this insight, we realized that we need to give people good ways to go backwards as well as forward in our content journey.
3. What sorts of data should B2B marketing leaders be looking at on a weekly basis? How can they use analytics to make decisions?
It’s important for organizations to have a single source of truth, whether it’s a data lake, or your marketing automation platform.
The goal is to have all signals center on the individual in one place. Then, you can look at individuals in behavioral groupings or figure out how different groups of users are interacting with your website or product. This data is magic as it enables you to start creating customer-centric experiences.
To do this, start with success, find the common denominator between business success and customer success. Then back out from there to find the blockers in the way.
Be careful of automating too much as it can lead you down a path of distructive complexity!
Instead, figure out what are those distinct, magical moments when someone starts the learning process and takes those initial steps in your product. Track the stages someone has to go through between starting a trial and purchasing the product.
If you can find those moments where a disproportionate amount of value is unlocked, such as when a self-serve trial user requests a demo, you can do the right thing to guide the individual to take the next step forward in the journey.
Data enables human interaction.
It’s like the brother-in-law test: what’s the nature or tone of that conversation, if you were just going to talk to your brother-in-law?
When you have granular data, you don’t have to rely on a one-size-fits all marketing strategy anymore. You can be relevant to each individual. It changes the approach of how you tell the story.
Data is the raw material for creating a sustained engagement with your customers.
As marketing leaders, we should empower our team to use data to make decisions that will ensure that the customer is successful. Provide the necessary training to make sure you and your team have enough Marketo skills, or are able to run a SQL query to get the data you need. By becoming fluent in data analysis, you can go from being a transactional marketer to a sustaining marketer.
In other words, data enables you to go from chasing a moment in time to understanding the full lifecycle.
4. What do you think is the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact B2B marketing?
B2B marketers have to move from transactional marketing to sustaining marketing.
Transactional marketing is about selling stuff. Sustaining marketing is about making people successful in the long term. In traditional marketing, an offer or promotion is often introduced too soon. It’s an easy fix to get more leads or more customers, but it violates the sustaining principle.
Modern marketing is about introducing the right offer at the right time at the right inflection point to accelerate value for the customer. The lines between product and content and content and marketing in SaaS business have become super blurred.
As modern marketers, it’s our job to make people aware of the problem and then give them guidance on how to solve their problem – you’ll sell at the end of the day. Think three steps ahead by using marketing automation and data – you’ll also make your customers more loyal.
Want to see how big data is creating ripples across industries? Check out other pieces in our Data Pioneer Perspective series, including the interview we did with Heine Krog Iversen of TimeXtender, and Erick Watson of Quantarium.