3 Data Marketing Industry Trends That You Haven’t Heard About Yet

April 9, 2021

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Editor’s note: This guest post was contributed by Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD.

Every year there’s a deluge of predictions articles and blogs on what to expect in the new year. Well intentioned as they may be, the problem is they become utterly forgettable. Why? Because no one ever wants to be wrong, so often what’s provided is vague, repetitive, or obvious (i.e., utterly forgettable).

We try to go a bit against the grain in the name of value and, therefore, held back on giving our take. Instead at LeadMD, we’ve evaluated the mountain of 2021 B2B marketing and sales predictions and identified what was missed. Read on for our take – and some insights from a few of our friends – on what’s really coming your way the rest of the year.

1.There will be a widespread centralization of data and departments. 

We’ve been moving in this direction for some time, so the idea that we’ll be aligning our data and departments isn’t surprising, but it is important. Heidi Bullock, CMO of Tealium told us why this shift matters and what it might look like. She shared the following:

“Companies that are behind in digital transformation most likely felt the impact heavily in 2020, and feel even more pressure to make changes now. The key to delivering a relevant and meaningful experience for buyers is to ensure the organization has a current and accurate view of their preferences and behaviors. So, marketers in 2021 must prioritize technology like customer data platforms (CDPs) because they help companies collect and manage data, so an accurate and current single view of the buyer is available. This is essential for teams so they can provide the best moments for their customers including everything from highly personalized offers to maintaining the right set of privacy preferences.” 

Greg Bell, VP of product marketing with 6sense agreed, touching on how advertising plays a role in this merging of data. “Marketers will look for a platform that centralizes insights from their marketing automation platforms (MAP) and customer relationship management software (CRM) to improve alignment with sales, enhance customer experience, and drive growth,” he said, adding, “Marketers will seek insights from both first- and third-party data in order to make informed decisions on how to engage with their audience.”

2. Data will become a universal asset within organizations. 

Though this goes hand-in-hand with my colleagues’ comments above, it’s still important to spotlight. This year, the democratization of data within companies must be the next step on the horizon so departments can learn all they can about a buyer and use it to serve their use case. For example, if a customer is on an email list and opts out in one department, how does it affect the rest of the organization? Will they be opted out of as well? How does data cross the aisle if it isn't in one single data asset? 

This, of course, echoes the need for CDPs, and alignment between departments. But let’s take it a step further and discuss how a team must manage this evolution in order for it to be effective. First, it really has to be a top-down initiative, with an organization’s CEO moving it forward so it actually happens. Second, everyone plays a role in populating the data. There’s no way around that, and that means there also needs to be proper processes and best practices around it. Third, marketing should drive the adoption and value proposition. This ensures that the customer relationship is owned by marketing and that the customer data you have is being treated as the universal asset it should be. 

Ajay Parikh, senior manager of digital strategy-critical care at Edwards Lifesciences shared these sentiments about data’s role this year: “Data will become an even greater commodity in 2021,” he said. “We are looking at both cleansing and enriching our data in order to be able to distribute targeted, personalized messages that resonate with different personas that make up the buying committee at every stage of the customer journey.” In order to do this, the organization must view data as a universal asset to which everyone contributes, but which is owned by marketing and driven by the top. 

3. Privacy regulations will require strategic adjustments in data gathering and usage.  

Privacy concerns have been snowballing over the past decade as more technology has come into play and more customer data is being housed and used. In order to comply with privacy regulations and succeed with buyer engagement, separate databases and separate silos must be eliminated. The more systems and departments handling your data, the more exposure there will be, whereas migrating to a centralized platform like a CDP can promote improved security and better privacy compliance. 

Tealium’s Bullock had some important thoughts about this, as well, “Regulations are here to stay, and organizations need to have a plan to ensure they can maintain the right level of privacy their customers are requesting,” she said. “The combination of these trends will drive a massive shift for teams to prioritize and adopt a first-party data strategy. First-party data is essentially a collection of events and information collected directly from customers, by your brand, based on what they’re doing and how they engage with your product, app, and website. With first-party data, you can analyze how consumers interact with your brand so you can improve the experience you’re providing – both holistically and individually.”

Yes, we lost some ground in 2020. But this is our time to gain it back. As we continue to adapt to industry changes and learn more about data, we’re getting closer and closer to making the most of it – for our own benefit and our customers’, too. 

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