In a few days, we’ll be celebrating the Lunar New Year and ushering in the Year of the Pig. Just as how the Chinese New Year is a time for wishing family and friends good fortune for the coming year, it also marks new opportunities for us to achieve our goals.
This is especially true in the Year of the Pig. In the cycle of 12 Chinese animal zodiac signs, the pig arrives last and is believed to bring wealth and good fortune. This year, all zodiac signs get to experience better chances at achieving business success.
For B2B marketers, the Year of the Pig means more opportunities to contribute to revenues and move the sales needle—that is, if they can overcome the biggest roadblocks to marketing prosperity that stand in their way.
In today’s post, we’ll dissect these challenges one by one and try to determine how each obstacle impacts marketing success.
1. Working with poor quality marketing data
As marketers, we’re all keenly aware that data is the lifeblood of our campaigns. That’s why we want this vital fluid to be as clean and healthy as possible.
But despite the clear importance of working with high-quality marketing data, a lot of marketers still continue to struggle with data quality issues:
- Only 38% of businesses trust their own data. (KPMG)
- 60% of companies have an unreliable overall data health. (Sirius Decisions)
- 25% of records in a marketing database contain bad data. (Sirius Decisions)
- 20% of revenues are lost due to bad data. (Kissmetrics)
- 41% of marketers say that inconsistent data across different platforms is their biggest challenge. (Marketingprofs)
Having a robust data management plan will spell the difference between a banner year and another missed sales target. Here’s a 5-step plan to free yourself from the influence of bad data:
- Keep records as complete as possible
- Have a regular update schedule
- Manage and merge duplicate records
- Standardize data and keep things consistent
- Develop a thorough data cleansing program
2. Underinvesting/Overinvesting in marketing technology
It’s easy to see how rapidly the tools and technologies we use as marketers are evolving. In 2015, there were around 2,000 different marketing technology (MarTech) solutions available. In 2018, this number has tripled to over 6,000 tools.
With such an overabundance of choices, it’s understandable that technology ranks as a top challenge for a great number of marketers this year. In fact, there are two ways that marketers struggle when it comes to MarTech.
First, MarTech is changing so fast that more than half of marketers admit they’re having a hard time keeping up. As Walker-Sands notes, even though more marketers are becoming early MarTech adopters, a majority still get hopelessly lost in the maze of tools they have to choose from.
At the other end of the spectrum, a significant number of marketers now run the risk of contracting the so-called shiny new toy syndrome. Instead of investing in technologies that they really need, marketers that suffer from shiny new toy syndrome buy MarTech solutions based on hype.
Gartner estimates that marketers earmark around a third of their budgets for MarTech, and more than 16% of the marketing budget gets spent on innovation. The problem with this is that CMOs also prioritize new capabilities at the expense of ROI, customer acquisition, and customer retention.
3. Getting stuck in past campaigns
There’s an old adage in military circles that says generals always tend to fight the last war. Military planners apply the lessons learned from past conflicts in the hopes of winning the present one, even though every new war presents a unique set of challenges that are far different than in the last conflict.
The same can be said of marketers. While it’s important to study what’s working and what isn’t, marketers also have a tendency to get stuck carrying out the last campaign.
According to research from AdRoll, as much as 81% of organizations now use some kind of marketing attribution model. In an increasingly-complex marketing process, attribution helps marketers identify how much each component contributes to results and to plan their next campaigns accordingly.
Attribution is clearly a critical part of modern marketing, and every marketer needs to adopt this into their process. The problem happens when marketers focus exclusively on past results to guide future campaigns. The marketing landscape changes so fast that best-in-class tools and tactics can quickly become obsolete.
Marketers who manage to flexibly adapt are the ones that thrive and prosper. Again, it’s important to learn from past campaigns, but it’s even more important to strive to be better and better.
4. Confusing targeting precision for accuracy
Modern marketing more closely resembles a typical episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley than an episode of AMC’s Mad Men. Marketers now heavily use data and algorithms to help them do what they do, instead of purely relying on their gut.
But being “data-driven” doesn’t always translate to being “data savvy.” One key reason for this is that marketers tend to confuse “precision” and “accuracy” in several key situations: accuracy refers to how close you get to the true value, while precision is how well you can repeat the same results.
Stats from Adobe/CMO indicate that 67% of marketers rank targeting accuracy as the main benefit of having a data-driven marketing culture. Yet only less than 10% of businesses are confident in their personalization capabilities, while another 33% claim to have limited or non-existent support for personalization.
When marketers fail to narrow down their target prospects and then settle for a broader pool of potential customers instead, they’re sacrificing accuracy for reach. It’s entirely possible to be extremely precise while completely missing the mark. As the great economist John Maynard Keynes once said: “It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.”
5. Not asking for help
More than 67% of B2B organizations outsource some or all of their marketing activities to a third-party agency. The key drivers of this outsourcing trend include:
- Marketing activities now require more specialized, technical expertise.
- The demand for marketing talent has outpaced supply.
- Marketers now fulfill an expanded set of roles and responsibilities.
Despite these developments, a huge number of marketers still choose to keep marketing operations in-house, citing reasons such as:
- Fear of losing operational control over a marketing activity
- Risk of damaging brand and reputation
- Possibility of hiring the wrong agency
- Lack of management oversight
These are all valid concerns when it comes to deciding whether or not to ask for outside marketing help, but having a solid outsourced marketing plan solves most of these issues.
If there’s an area in your marketing process you’re having difficulties with, sometimes the only way to do something about it is to ask for help.
Conclusion: These are five of the biggest obstacles to marketing prosperity and good fortune this year. Once again, the Year of the Pig brings tremendous opportunities for all marketers to deliver solid results—provided we overcome the stumbling blocks that stand in our way.
Wishing you great happiness and prosperity…