It’s not a secret that manufacturers face significant challenges. Prospects are doing more research online and making purchasing decisions before they even speak to a salesperson. And the buying process has become extremely complex with stakeholders including marketing, sales, and channel partners.
Overcoming these challenges means determining exactly what customers and prospects want and reaching the right people at the right time and with the right message.
At this point in the game, most manufacturers understand that traditional offline ways of marketing and list buying are simply not enough. Long gone are the days where marketers were limited to one-way broadcasting, or needed to be reliant on stagnant 3rdparty data lists for new sources of information. Digital marketing has become the new norm, and real-time is no longer an option.
While manufacturers have made huge strides into the digital world, the biggest challenge continues to evolve around Big Data. Although Big Data can translate into big revenue, many companies are unable to fully utilize its potential. In fact, according to Gartner, through 2015, 85 percent of Fortune 500 organizations will be unable to exploit Big Data for competitive advantage.
Data-as-a-Service is Changing the Game for Manufacturers
Most marketing systems still source data like it was pre 2003. Yet, the opportunity to refine strategic and operational decision making by taking full advantage of Big Data is compelling. Within this vast amount of information is valuable and available data. This is the new world of Big Data and the information being created can be used in real-time to generate previously unimagined opportunities. This is where the thinking behind Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) comes into play — an emerging category that is taking the marketing world by storm.
DaaS is a service approach in which unique and Hard-to-Find-Data (HTFD) assets are sourced, structured, and delivered on a real-time basis. At the same time, a manufacturer’s core data set is also enhanced so it is digitally addressable.
DaaS combines three types of data, uniquely customized to each company:
- Foundational Data: 1st party data combined with additional 3rd party data and unique and HTFD sets.
- Onboarded Data: Offline data transformed into addressable online identities
- Fast Data: Real-time behavioral data.
To really understand the potential of the unique data sets available to manufacturers, it is important to understand where this data is coming from. The information being generated from Big Data can be segmented into six specific categories:
- Web Mining: Data compiled by mining the open web. This includes automated processes of discovering and extracting information from Web documents and servers, including mining unstructured data. This can be information extracted from server logs and browser activity, information extracted about the links and structure of a site, or information extracted from page content and documents.
- Search Information: Data available as a result of browser activity tracking search and intent behavior. This data also identifies digital audiences through onboarding (matching consumers to their online IDs).
- Social Media: The average global Internet user spends two and a half hours daily on social media. A vast array of data is available on personal preferences, likes, “check-ins”, shares, and comments users are making.
- Crowd Sourcing: This is collective intelligence gathered from the public. Data is compiled from multiple sources or large communities of people, including forums, surveys, polls, and other types of user-generated media.
- Transactional: Data that is created when organizations conduct business, and can be financial, logistical or any related process involving activities such as purchases, requests, insurance claims, deposits, withdrawals, flight reservations, credit card purchases, etc.
- Mobile: Mobile data is driving the largest surge in data volume. It isn't only a function of smartphone penetration and consumer usage patterns. The data is also created by apps or other services working in the background.
When a company’s core data set is integrated with these new data sources, manufacturers can gain competitive advantage on a daily basis. DaaS structures this data to deliver constant streams of qualified prospects, including a company’s own customers, who are actively searching for products they or their competitors sell. Manufacturers can use this data to deliver marketing campaigns through multi-channel programs or customized ads and messaging can be sent directly to channel partners and end users through a digital marketing platform.
Some unique ways in which DaaS can boost ROI include:
- Actionable data beyond firmographics: Access to rich, key decision-maker contact data, financial risk status, procurement spending trends by category, understanding of website infrastructure and expansion.
- Purchase power signals: Just-in-time alerts provided to sales indicating when customers or ideal prospects are considering other solutions or engaging in behaviors that indicate readiness to purchase such as new office openings, venture capital investment, management changes or expanding hiring initiatives.
- Social purchase signals: Consumers or businesses posting to searching for who is looking at specific products or searching for a competitor’s products.
- Digital audience creation: Onboarding of offline customer databases into the digital arena to create a digital audience, enabling content to be served online to drive them to a manufacturer’s products and solutions or directly to distribution partner channels.
- Segmentation/modeling: Understanding of best customers to find prospects based on that profile to dramatically improve lead generation productivity and ROI.
Marketing has changed almost beyond recognition in the last decade and manufacturers must learn new techniques to keep up in an age of bigger and faster data. They have more options than ever to set themselves from the competition. The winners will be those that apply the right data to uncover new customer insight, identify new markets, and take the leap into the new era of marketing.
Anders Ekman is president of DataMentors.