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3 ways to optimize first-party data collection

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3 ways to optimize first-party data collection

“Our digital future was happening well before a global pandemic; it just simply accelerated it,” said Mark Bornstein, VP of content marketing at ON24, in his presentation at The MarTech Conference. “But the way in which we engage has changed, and our ability to learn about people is changing as well.”

Industry experts have been well aware of the digital-first environment for years now. In fact, Gartner said that by 2025 almost 80% of B2B interactions between suppliers and buyers would happen through digital channels — and that was before the 2020 pandemic accelerated digital even further.

But, if marketing and sales teams can’t keep up with the acceleration of digital channels, customers will be more likely to abandon their brands. That’s why Bornstein recommends marketers take advantage of the wealth of resources offered by first-part customer data.

Here are three ways he recommends brands optimize first-party data collection.

Give viewers choices during webinars

“It’s amazing how webinars have changed over the past few years,” Bornstein said. “They’re more like TV programs than the PowerPoints of old. We see more conversational formats, such as interviews and talk shows. The audience is a much bigger part of the experience.”

He added, “We see companies creating experiences where audiences are not just watching a presentation, but they’re involved in it.”

interactive marketing webinars
Source: Mark Bornstein

Bornstein highlighted a webinar he liked that allowed users to make their own choices: You could click on webpages and different URLs, or ask for a meeting in real-time and then go to a calendar and schedule an event. Giving users options while viewing webinars can help brands make these digital experiences more engaging.

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“When I talk about self-selection, that’s what I mean,” he said. “Some people are going to be top-of-funnel, and some people are going to be mid-funnel. And some people are going to be ready to engage with your company — you need to provide them with those options.”

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Craft interactive content hubs

“We’re seeing more personalized content hubs,” said Bornstein. “No matter what page you navigate to, you’re going to get something specific, whether it is on a website or a targeted landing page.”

engaging marketing content hubengaging marketing content hub
Source: Mark Bornstein

When marketers share content pieces from these hubs, Bornstein recommends adding multiple interactive elements to foster even more user engagement. Whether it’s an inviting CTA, an enrollment button, or a chatbot, marketers can enrich content experiences through interactive hubs.

The authoritative, informative content remains the most important element of these hubs, but marketers will miss out on conversion opportunities if they don’t help foster engaging reading experiences.

“Anything is possible with content experiences,” Bornstein said.


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Develop immersive virtual events

“A great virtual event experience is not just streaming presentations to an audience,” said Bornstein. “That’s not interactivity, and you’re not going to learn anything about those people.”

Bornstein and his team got a wake-up call about the necessity of interactive virtual events once the pandemic hit in 2020. They were in the middle of a big company tour and had to end it abruptly. Instead of hosting the next big event, they quickly shifted it into a virtual format. Then, they began brainstorming ways to collect valuable first-party customer information.

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Instead of giving out free products and asking attendees to meet with event speakers (as in a live event), Bornstein’s team decided to offer interactive digital content options to keep audiences engaged in their virtual environment.

interactive virtual eventsinteractive virtual events
Source: Mark Bornstein

There are many interactive technologies available, so marketers would be wise to incorporate them into virtual events. The key differentiator between boring and engaging events may lie in the way they bring viewers into the experience.

“The smart marketers out there are not building virtual events to be presentations,” said Bornstein. “They’re building virtual events as real experiences.”

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About The Author

Corey Patterson is an Editor for MarTech and Search Engine Land. With a background in SEO, content marketing, and journalism, he covers SEO and PPC to help marketers improve their campaigns.

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MARKETING

B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

The B2B customer journey can be a long one, especially when the purchase of expensive software subscriptions is under consideration.

“The average B2B customer journey takes 192 days from anonymous first touch to won,” according to Dreamdata in their 2022 B2B Go-to-Market Benchmarks — a statistic described by co-founder and CMO Steffen Hedebrandt as “alarming.”

But the report also indicates that this journey can be significantly sped up — by as much as 63% — if accounts begin their research at software review sites, gathering information and opinions from their peers. Journeys that originate at a review site often lead to deals of higher value too.

Fragmented data on the customer journey. Dreamdata is a B2B go-to-market platform. In any B2B company, explained Hedebrandt, there are typically 10 or even 20 data silos that contain fragments of the customer journey. Website visits, white paper downloads, social media interactions, webinar or meeting attendance, demos, and of course intent data from review site visits — this data doesn’t typically sit in one place within an organization.

“We built an account-based data model because we believe that there’s such a thing as an account journey and not an individual journey,” said Hedebrandt. “So if there are two, three or five people representing an account, which is typically what you see in B2B, all of these touches get mapped into the same timeline.”

Among those many touches is the intent data sourced from software review site G2. Dreamdata has an integration with G2 and a G2 dashboard allowing visualization of G2-generated intent data. This includes filtering prospects who are early in their journey, who have not yet discovered the customer’s product, or who have discovered it but are still searching. This creates a basis for attributing pipelines, conversions and revenue to the activity.

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“Strategically, our ideal customer profile is a B2B software-as-a-service company,” said Hedenbrandt. “B2B SaaS companies are particularly ripe for understanding this digital customer journey; their main investment is in digital marketing, they have a salesforce that use software tools to do this inside sales model; and they also deliver their product digitally as well.” What’s more, it takes twice as long to close SaaS deal as it does to close deals with B2B commercial and professional services companies.

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Read next: A look at the tech review space

The Benchmarks findings. The conclusions of the 2022 Benchmarks report is based on aggregated, anonymized data from more than 400 Dreamdata user accounts. Focusing on first-touch attribution (from their multi-touch model), Dreamdata found that customer journeys where a review site is the first touch are 63% shorter than the average. In contrast, where the first touch channel is social, the journey is much longer than average (217%); it’s the same when paid media is the first touch (155%).

As the Benchmarks report suggests, this may well mean that social is targeting prospects that are just not in-market. It makes sense that activity on a review site is a better predictor of intent.

Hedenbrandt underlines the importance of treating the specific figures with caution. “It’s not complete science what we’ve done,” he admits, “but it’s real data from 400 accounts, so it’s not going to be completely off. You can only spend your time once, and at least from what we can see here it’s better to spend your time collecting reviews than writing another Facebook update.”

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While Dreamdata highlights use of G2, Hedenbrandt readily concedes that competitor software review sites might reasonably be expected to show similar effects. “Definitely I would expect it to be similar.”

Why we care. It’s not news that B2B buyers researching software purchases use review sites and that those sites gather and trade in the intent data generated. Software vendors encourage users to post reviews. There has been a general assumption that a large number of hopefully positive reviews is a good thing to have.


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What Dreamdata’s findings indicate is that the effect of review sites on the buyer journey — especially as the first-touch channel — can be quantified and a value placed on it. “None of us questioned the value of reviews, but during this process you can actually map it into a customer journey where you can see the journey started from G2, then flowed into sales meetings, website visits, ads, etc. Then we can also join the deal value to the intent that started from G2.”

Likely, this is also another example of B2B learning from B2C. People looking at high consideration B2C purchases are now accustomed to seeking advice both from friends and from online reviews. The same goes for SaaS purchases, Hedenbrandt suggests: “More people are turning to sites like G2 to understand whether this is a trustworthy vendor or not. The more expensive it is, the more validation you want to see.”


About The Author

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Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

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He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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