Data-Privacy & Trust-Based Marketing: What It Means For B2B Demand Gen & ABM

Today is the day; May 25 and GDPR goes into effect. Now what?

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect today. And the smart marketing teams have been preparing for a while – not simply to avoid fines of this particular regulation, but to prepare their organizations for the inevitable industry-wide transformation from old batch-and-blast practices to complete trust-based marketing.

These marketing teams understand that gaining trust among prospects by respecting their data privacy will soon dictate B2B marketing success – across the board. This means using many of the GDPR’s requirements as best practices for all your demand gen efforts, will be a smart move.

For most organizations, this will certainly be an uncomfortable transition; there remain many unknowns with GDPR and the expansion of data privacy globally, and it will surely take some time to adjust strategies and tactics. However, this will become the new normal, so it’s best to get a jump on it now.

Expanding Data-Privacy Regulations

The number of countries with data privacy and electronic marketing regulations in place is continuously growing. The GDPR is simply one, albeit very important, example among a rapidly developing wave of data privacy regulations driven by some high-profile breaches of trust. More regulations are sure to follow around the world (the EU’s ePrivacy Regulation is next).

It’s wise to see the GDPR as an opportunity to develop more precise, efficient B2B marketing practices, rather than simply creating quick-fix patches that will only apply to this specific EU regulation.

Acquiring consent to process and use personal data should become the “best practice” for all prospects you target. This largely means giving your customers and prospects control by obtaining opt-in to specific uses of their personal data.

At this point you’re likely and rightly asking yourself: Won’t this hurt my team’s ability to hit pipeline and revenue goals?

This is a legitimate question – especially considering such goals are rapidly growing within the industry. According to Demand Gen Reports 2018 B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey, 28% of respondents said their marketing orgs have specific revenue-based quotas, a 5 percentage-point increase over the previous year.

So, how will this new era of data privacy affect marketing…

Trust-Based Marketing and Your Demand Gen Funnel

Your database will undoubtedly contract. Changing your landing page language and lead-capture processes will net you fewer top-funnel leads and contacts. But this shouldn’t bother you – as marketing KPIs continue to evolve from top-funnel lead volume to bottom-funnel pipeline, you’ll need to care less about this top-funnel contraction. It’s the bottom line that matters, not the top; and conversions through the funnel will increasingly depend on earning prospects’ trust.

Moreover, if an individual doesn’t want to opt into receiving unsolicited information from you, you shouldn’t want to force your content on them – it’s just as much a waste of your time and resources as it is theirs. On the other hand, those contacts that do enter your database will actually be interested in your products or services and therefore likely more qualified.

This means greater efficiency. You won’t be wasting time and resources trying to convert contacts who aren’t a good fit. You’ll have more precise data on truly interested contacts, which will translate to:

  • more precise messaging;
  • higher value conversations during nurturing;
  • increased funnel conversion rates;
  • improved analytics; and
  • sales colleagues who are happier and more productive.

And, of course, these will all result in your team being better equipped to hit your growing pipeline and revenue goals.

What Trust-Based Marketing Means for Account-Based Marketing  

Let’s be honest, the ultimate goals of government-created data-privacy regulations are not the same as our goals as B2B marketers. Governments are trying to ensure personal data isn’t used in ways that are averse to the health, safety and privacy of their citizenry. We marketers are just trying to help our businesses grow. However, these two goals aren’t at odds. In fact, how those two differing ends are attained are very similar, especially when we’re using account-based marketing (ABM) strategies.

ABM strategies work by focusing marketing efforts, resources and budget on fewer accounts. Spray-and-pray email tactics and high-volume lead gen KPIs – both of which depend on scraping as much personal data as possible and are averse to data privacy – have no place in ABM. 

Now, to be clear, some marketers doing ABM think buying lists of contacts at target accounts and then emailing or calling those individuals is a sound ABM practice – it’s not. Nor is it respectful of their personal data. Marketers shouldn’t send unsolicited emails out to individuals who didn’t request information from you or weren’t willing to give you their data to obtain your company’s branded content. It’s a much better practice to syndicate your branded content across the properties of trusted media partners (who have already built good relationships with your target audiences), and let decision-makers among your target accounts find your content and provide their info on their terms.

Both data-privacy regulations and good ABM practices are about quality interactions with individuals who are genuinely interested in your products or services. They’re both about being customer-focused, which means being respectful of their data and gaining their trust.

In the grand scheme of things, trust-based marketing, which includes good ABM practices, will result in a transformation of the demand marketing funnel; the top of your funnel will likely contract, but the bottom will expand – this is obviously better.

A Quick List of Trust-Based Marketing Benefits

Making the switch won’t always be easy. You may need to convince senior execs that it’s okay that your top-funnel lead volume has dropped. You’ll also need to put effort into updating lead capture language and processes. But these challenges are relatively minor when you think of what your team will eventually get in return. Here’s just a few of the benefits your team can expect in the mid- to long-term:

  1. Forces businesses to focus on the metrics that matter. Sure, the c-suite knows that pipeline opportunities are more important than lead volume. But for most B2B marketing teams, as soon as lead volume drops, a moment of panic from management is forthcoming. Data-privacy regulations are a good reason marketing teams can cite to unchain themselves from the old lead-volume anchor that prevents resources from being spent on higher-priority initiatives.

  2. Results in better prospect data. The fact that trust-based marketing requires prospect consent for specific uses of data will translate to a clearer understanding of prospect needs – that is to say, more specific, accurate lead data with which marketers can further qualify, nurture and convert prospects into opportunities.

  3. Improves marketing program transparency. The barriers to funnel entry act as a filtration device; your database will no longer be muddied by all the so-called “lead” data that traditionally have flooded your marketing automation and CRM systems and skewed your program measurement, analysis and optimization. This cleaner database will provide you with a better understanding of which messaging, content and channels are resonating with which personas, and creating real interest among your target audiences.

  4. Increases marketing team efficiency. Because leads that enter the funnel will be of higher quality, your team won’t need to spend as much time trying to convert leads that never should’ve found their way into your database in the first place. Resources can be reallocated to more strategic endeavors. Consequently, your team will be better equipped to identify and surround the entire buying committee at targeted accounts, which will translate to even more conversions down funnel.

  5. Benefits the sales-marketing relationship. Higher-quality leads and increased pipeline opportunities and value will engender greater marketing credibility among your business development reps (BDRs) and sales colleagues. Prospects will naturally be more open to engagement since it’ll be on their terms. Plus, your messaging will be more personalized both out of necessity and because you’ll have more specific information about these prospects from the beginning. Combined, this will make for a much smoother hand-off to sales. Further, the freeing of marketing resources from chasing and managing a large database of suspects will allow for greater integrations of sales-marketing efforts focused on real prospects.

To learn more about how your team can put trust-based marketing into practice, we put together this data-privacy compliance resource page. It’s full of webinars, checklists and whitepapers that’ll help guide your efforts to not only help you get compliant with GDPR, but revise your strategies, tactics and processes around the trust-based marketing philosophy.

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