First party data for B2B has never been more important. And its relevance to all B2B companies is only going to grow as we head into a future where third party data becomes less available and more expensive. The use of third party data for B2B business development has always been a hit or miss endeavour. Trying to coax business out of the coldest of leads is a time-consuming, and often luck-dominated process.
In our experience building leads for B2B clients, we’ve found that only through a content-focused, first party data strategy can B2B businesses truly provide themselves with a passive source of leads that has a decent conversion rate.
This strategy brings the brand to the forefront of thought leadership in the industry, and places it squarely in the minds of decision makers. Even if said decision makers are not in the market at that very moment, remaining top-of-mind through consistent, high-quality communication is what makes the difference.
It also serves to enhance the reputation of the business within the industry at large, increasing the chances of information spreading through word of mouth. Even the sales process is made easier, thanks to basic introductions being less necessary when leads are generated through this method.
First party vs Third party Data
The difference between first and third party data is simple. The former is data that you build yourself through a variety of methods, while the latter is data provided by another source – usually at a price. Vendors of said third party data will usually provide segmentation options in order to narrow down the provided audience to better suit requirements, but there will always be a significant proportion of the audience that is mismatched with your goals.
What are the benefits of First-party data in a B2B context?
Accuracy & Relevance
The main difference from a quality and relevance perspective between first and third party data is that, as long as a thoughtful first party data strategy has been used, one has a much more accurate idea of the kind of individuals that make up their database than the other. If one understands exactly how and why an individual has ended up in their database, it makes it significantly easier to create relevant and personalised content that will appeal to them specifically.
Control over data & segmentation
With most content-driven first party data strategies, individuals are added to the database from multiple sources – each journey slightly different, but normally with plenty in common. With this in mind, it is significantly easier to segment audiences and organise them in a way that allows for more even effective, personalised communication.
One can even take things a step further, and segment audiences based on their reactions to communication, and allow them to play an active part in what content they’ll be receiving. Audiences that receive the more relevant communication tend to trust its source more readily.
Creates a truly personalised experience
All of the above leads to this – creating a B2B customer journey that does not feel like a marketing campaign, but rather a human exchange that leads to mutual benefit. Through significantly personalised communication, converting leads into business becomes easier. While overall communication is done in relative volume, because of its accuracy and relevance, branching into a personal conversation is seamless.
How do I build First-party data?
In the B2B marketing industry, we often forget that we are still communicating to humans, despite the term ‘Business-to-Business’. While overall motivations of those who are receiving our communication are business-focused, not personal, what attracts them remains the same. Communication that they find relevant, that validates their problems and provides solutions without overtly pushy messaging, will be most effective. The key lies within a fair exchange of value.
True Value Exchange
Building leads is essentially an exercise of asking for data directly from your audience. Very often however, many B2B marketers think that the exchange goes something like this:
‘In exchange for your email address/attention, I will try to sell you my service.’
You’ll likely notice that this is extremely one-sided. It benefits the marketer, but there is no obvious benefit on the receiving end. Yet, unfortunately this is how a lot of business development is attempted.
Other than the obvious, one of the problems with this is that by jumping straight into a sales pitch, it assumes that your B2B services are required in the very near future. If the sales pitch fails, communication often ceases. Oftentimes, the decision to use B2B services takes weeks, months or even years – so it is essential that communication continues into the long-term.
To that end, it should look more like this:
‘In exchange for your email address/attention, here’s something that you’ll find relevant or interesting.’
This exchange is a lot more balanced, and it is only the beginning of the relationship. It should continue as follows:
If you liked what we sent you, I’ll continue providing similar valuable information that will establish my team as experts in our field, and if you need our services, we’re right here.’
This way, those on the receiving end continue to receive high-quality, relevant information, and in exchange, the B2B business remains at the top of their audience’s mind. Once the B2B business’s services are needed, most of the trust-building has already been done.
Creating a B2B first party data strategy
Building first party data should form part of an overall strategy that takes into account:
- Your industry and market’s unique characteristics
- Your brand, your USPs, and your values
- Your target audience and their own values
- The right communication channels to reach your target audience
All of the above will culminate in a strategic, and creative way of building and distributing content that brings all of the above together to provide value, and allow for a fruitful B2B exchange to take place.
For more on B2B marketing strategy and practical tools to help you communicate more effectively to your audience, take a look at our latest B2B marketing content, or get in touch for a no-strings-attached consult.