Cost Efficient Data Strategies for SMBs To Realise Their Vision
By Chantal Reed – Strategic Digital, Data Marketing Consultant and VP
Remember that data tells a story, don’t miss it.
When I spoke at the Engage MarTech conference in December 2022, I was asked a question from the floor about using data when you are a small business. You can hear my short answer in the audio recording from the event, but today I’ll cover it in depth.
Small businesses are usually strapped for cash and resources, constantly needing to keep investors informed of success, experiencing a slow burn, more failure than success and chaotic environments full of change and ambiguity. This was certainly the norm whenever I worked in small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs). That is why I am going to call unicorns, start-ups and scale-ups, what they are – SMBs.
How do SMBs achieve growth when the above reigns?
Enterprise companies have the resources and cash to utilise data sourcing, data analysts and create customer acquisition strategies a lot easier than their poorer SMB cousins. However, the intelligent use of data and the subsequent account-based marketing (ABM) strategies are still part of the SMB marketing arsenal.
GET A DATA LEADER
Targeted customer acquisition through ABM for SMBs can be cost-efficient and finding and attracting their ideal customers can happen with limited resources. I suggest having a team member who loves to play and create propositions with data, owns the understanding of your ICP, is deeply embedded in proposition work and works directly with the Marketing or Company Leader.
It is they who will see the opportunities and the changes in the market and your target audience. They will create models that effectively find synergies and insight across all data sources that can inform your ABM data.
They need not be just a data geek; a new type of data lead is required, one that recognises they are a business leader and intimately understands the marketing and sales requirement for their data, creating propositions that deeply recognise customer sets. Marketing leaders who are hands-on with data can work with someone who just wants to define the data sets and modelling too. These marketers should be board members informing at the highest level how the brand and revenue can benefit from the story the data is telling.
Not only is it important to get yourself a CRM system but make sure it is tailored to SMBs. I will leave you to investigate these systems but always look at the emerging talent here; they have usually copied the good stuff from market leaders and used even better features and functionalities as they are SaaS and no code/low code built.
Obviously, sales intelligence systems are the pivot of an effective ABM strategy. A lot of companies use Sales Navigator from LinkedIn, and it is worth it; however, picture every one of your competitors' sales teams utilising Sales Navigator to find the customers that want your solution now or within the next year… The only differentiator will be the messaging and the multichannel outbound marketing strategy to get to these same contacts.
There are other, newer and just as innovative solutions on the market that are perhaps more agile as they have been built with the learnings of others and improved upon with user insight, as I mentioned earlier.
SOCIAL MEDIA ANALYTICS
Targeted messaging and a specific ABM focus can be created by viewing what your followers and industry followers are interested in on social media. Facebook for some SMBs is a key tool – the analytics here can also be free.
I suggest reviewing all the people who consistently ‘like’, ‘comment’ or ‘follow’ you on the platforms and dressing down the data to understand more about their position and the company they work for.
Should this company be one of your ABM targets? Define lists of data from social media, allocate a tiering system related to your ABM strategy and build out a multi-channel marketing strategy to target your top 5.
CREATE A PARTNER STRATEGY
Referrals and partner programs are being embraced more and more as they essentially evangelise your brand and amplify your offerings. One of my previous employers, Dell Technologies, recently announced it is going to put more emphasis on partners than direct; that is a major shift of strategy, and I am sure they have spent a lot of consulting time on making that decision.
Start small with a few and pick smart. The right partners are keen to work with you but also are aligned with your goals and vision. They are an extension of your brand and if you can strike a deal that makes sense for both of you, certain ABM strategies with specific data become potently powerful.
GOOGLE ANALYTICS FOR WEB TRAFFIC INSIGHTS AND EMAIL INSIGHT
A powerful free tool providing website visitor information is Google Analytics. Track metrics like user behaviour, referral sources and conversion rates which allows you to make informed decisions on what channels are driving traffic and need optimisation. And, of course, the email metrics – but you know your data leader can cross-check all of this against your other data resources to find some great acquisition data.
Watch what is being said about competitors and keep abreast of the feedback they gain, and with a data person, you can review public information to just check in on any movement in strategy that your leadership needs to know. I always try and create a summary email once a month on key competitive analysis when I work for SMBs.
COLLECT INSIGHT FROM YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMERS/PILOT CUSTOMERS
This is a key tool and the one area I mentioned to the person who asked the question at the MarTech event. Use your current customers to gather insight to continually smarten up your product and solution propositions. As a buyer, they are influenced and are part of your ideal customer profile (ICP) so get really close, even create a group of your buyers to meet together occasionally (not same vertical) for networking and exchanging information. Be the conduit for innovation and a good time, a brand they want to be involved with!
These are just some of the tactics that I have pursued for my clients in the SMB space and by strategically utilising cost-effective tools and techniques, data can be very powerful for customer acquisition and lead generation. Data needs to be used intelligently and no matter how small you are, I recommend you hire a data leader – from the data, you can identify your ICP, buyer committee and personas, build propositions that are built on rock, and create messaging that will be strong and produce content a buyer can’t ignore.
Building your brand and your customer acquisition are inextricably linked – and it’s the use of data intelligently and cost-effectively that will make your SMB meet and exceed its vision.