Zero-Party Data Strategy for the B2B Marketer
As we collectively venture further into the era of data deprecation and walled gardens, brands are more focused on gathering zero-party data. And while that may seem to be a simple enough task for eCommerce and lead generation brands, the feat of successfully gathering zero-party data has understandably posed some new challenges for many B2B marketers.
If you’re thinking that B2C companies have it easier in terms of providing tangible and instant benefit in exchange for customer data, you’re not alone. As a B2B marketer myself, I understand that because of many B2B offerings, it likely isn’t feasible to launch an email collection campaign simply offering 20% off, then watch the zero-party data pour in. However, that doesn’t mean that B2C companies get to have all the fun. B2B companies can still provide value and enhance prospect and customer experiences through transparent and consent-centric data collection efforts.
In case you haven’t heard what gathering meaningful zero-party data is all about, it’s providing your users with an instant— and readily apparent— benefit in exchange for them willingly choosing to provide you with some information about themselves. But, if your B2B company offers a service or SaaS product, you may be wondering: What instant benefit can you provide your user when you’ve got a notoriously extended sales cycle, a steep funnel, and an even longer list of decision-makers to get on board? Time savings, additional knowledge, and a reduced-friction journey— that’s what.
1. Time Savings
B2B decision-makers are busy people. With that in mind, there is tremendous value in providing these decision-makers with what they want in a timely manner (bonus points if you can provide them with what they want before they even ask for it).
One of the best ways to do this is through content subscriptions: Offer your site visitors a quick survey to capture their content preferences, main KPIs, and business goals, and then give them a quick and easy option to provide their email and subscribe to a curated email track that provides them exactly what they asked for— nothing more, nothing less.
In a matter of seconds, you’ve now made your user feel seen, while also providing them a nearly instantaneous way to stay up-to-date on the topics they care most about (and you’ve also gotten a nice little chunk of data to help you better understand who has been perusing your website). Pretty neat, huh?
2. Additional Knowledge
According to a recent survey by CMO Council, nearly 90% of surveyed B2B buyers said that online content had a moderate-to-major effect on who they chose as their vendor for a particular business purchase. B2B decision-makers are hungry for information and great content and, coincidentally enough, as a B2B marketer yourself, you’ve probably got interesting information and content to share, right? If only there was a way to exchange your interesting information for a chance to better understand who is consuming it… (turns out, there is!).
One way to transform this knowledge exchange into a zero-party data collection effort is to offer articles through a gated content form. Instead of posting a blog via your standard public page format, try implementing a form with a minimal number of required fields (think: Name, company, email) as the precursor to a site visitor accessing the blog— in other words, when someone is ready to read the blog, all they have to do is fill out the short form, and the blog can then be immediately available for download or view upon submission.
This is a great zero-party data collection tactic, as it makes the knowledge-share a mutually beneficial action: Your site visitor gets access to an exclusive piece of content to feed their knowledge-hungry brain, and you get a piece of insight into who is reading your content (and which topics they enjoy!).
3. A Reduced-Friction Journey
We’ve all been there: You’ve only just heard of a new potential partner, vendor, or solution, and you decide to visit their website for the first time, hoping to find a bit more information about what this company can offer you. It’s only been 30 seconds, and boom, it’s a pop-up asking you to sign up for a demo. You close it and continue browsing, looking for some general information, but all you can find are CTAs pushing you to “Get In Touch With Sales”. Frustrated, you leave the website feeling unseen, and mildly irritated.
If the above anecdote sounds familiar, I hear you. As B2B companies, it’s easy to fall into the trap of rushing prospects into sales conversations prematurely— after all, many B2B solutions are not one-size-fits-all, and it’s typically not until a sales conversation that you can accurately predict the scope of a project, the potential fit between companies, or the total expected cost. However, a sales conversation isn't the only time you can provide value to a prospect.
One way to provide tangible value without this premature sales friction is to proactively ask where a site user is at in their buying cycle, at the time of their visit. Whether this comes in the form of a pageview pop-up or a secondary contact page submission form, the goal is the same— to provide users with an opportunity to proactively share where they’re at journey-wise so that you can provide them with an experience that is helpful, not pushy.
With this medium of zero-party data collection, you’re not only improving your site visitors’ experiences with you, you’re also helping your own sales organization plan and pace for when your currently-casual site surfers may be entering an RFP phase or active buying cycle. This can, in turn, help your business with funnel forecasting while also making sure your sales team members are spending their time with the prospects who are most likely to turn into customers— truly a win-win situation.
B2B brands experience unmatched nuance from many angles, and the collection of zero-party data is no different. Sure, you probably can’t offer a free shipping promo in exchange for your site visitors filling out a quick questionnaire, but that certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t provide them an instant benefit for choosing to share a bit about themselves— all it takes is a bit of planning and creativity.