Combining creativity with B2B marketing is an ongoing challenge. In many ways, it's like a puzzle: How do you build an emotional connection with your customers and inspire deep-seated brand loyalty when you lack the direct tactics of B2C campaigns? And then, how do you repeat your latest campaign's success again (and again, and again)?

The answer is simple, and it's the same concept you'd apply in the B2C world: Listen to customers, personalize your interactions, and keep your human audience in focus.

Today, social media data is critical in that effort, because it contains complex insights required to understand customers' challenges, preferences, and goals. With those insights, marketers can tailor and test their B2B campaigns to ensure efficacy. However, analyzing and applying customer data to marketing strategy isn't always straightforward.

Here are three priorities for marketers looking to add a human touch to their B2B marketing.

1. Look for data that applies to your sales pipeline

Big Data is... big. If you're collecting and analyzing it without an end game in sight, your efforts might drown in the work itself. Any data set can help shine light on trends, insights, or predictions for the future, but to extract true value, you need to use your sales pipeline as a framework.

Brainstorm a list of questions you'd love to answer about your sales funnel. For example:

  • Why did your last five failed opportunities fall through?
  • What's the average time a customer takes to complete a journey through your pipeline?
  • What's a realistic revenue milestone to aim for next quarter?

If you're searching for answers to questions like those, the data insights that will deliver ROI will quickly stand out.

2. Build a framework for collecting, considering, and applying data insights to B2B marketing

Don't let valuable data fall through the cracks of your emails. A recent study by CRM Search found that 80% of leads generated by marketing teams are later overlooked or ignored by sales teams.

Often, that could be prevented with better team communication or technology solutions designed to facilitate collaboration. Project management tools and customer relationship management (CRM) systems can automatically connect incoming data with its place of relevance within the sales funnel.

To hit your goal of pulling in new leads next month, you'll need to get familiar with where those leads originate and how to identify similar opportunities earlier in the process.

When you're building or choosing a collaboration solution, consider whether it will integrate with the tools you already use to power your business: file-sharing, email campaigns, financial management, and any other functions that matter to you. Connecting those dots will help your entire team see the same picture, increasing productivity and boosting your bottom line in the long run.

3. Stay active on social media, and stay on the lookout for new insights

Today's B2B marketing landscape is driven by personalization. Social media analysis makes it possible, as customers frequently interact with brands about service requests and reviews via social channels.

Smart brands log each of those interactions, crunch the numbers to uncover key pain points or gaps in customer service, and address collective feedback in future product versions. Social-savvy brands also interact with their customers regularly, using human voices that come from brand-associated handles, to build loyalty and foster proactive engagement outside of complaint situations

In response, customers recognize which brands are making an effort to listen and understand their users, and which remain detached—even robotic.

It's never too late to start building or enhancing your brand's presence on social media, especially as a B2B organization. Creating a company account on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or another platform is only the beginning. To reach customers, dedicate some time every day to check in with your audience.

A few best-practices can also help ensure your activity is paying off:

  • Say no to blanket posts. Every social network has a slightly different audience, tone, and algorithm, all of which factor into how audiences perceive your posts. Have you ever posted a sunset picture to your personal Instagram and watched it take off with activity, then wondered why it got only three likes when you cross-posted to Facebook? Get to know how your audiences, including customers, competitors, and thought leaders, behave within each social media community before you dive in and risk appearing tone deaf.
  • Be quick and honest with your responses to customer outreach. Social media is a direct link between your brand and its users. Show them that you're present and listening by avoiding delaying responses when customers tag your handle or share messages. Censoring your reply, or using a stuffy tone, will also take away from the human touch of your conversation and could reflect negatively on your brand.
  • Keep branded commercials away from the top of your funnel. When someone downloads a whitepaper from your website, there's a good chance that user is interested in your product-related content. Avoid jumping to the same conclusion as your brand gains fans on social media. Highlight your company's human voice by engaging about industry trends, breaking news, and relevant topics rather than promoting all-product-content, all-the-time. Aim to share posts on a consistent basis without flooding your followers' newsfeeds.
  • Fill out your social profiles. It sounds simple, but its importance can't be stressed enough. Use a high-res company logo across social media platforms; include details about your company's offering, history, and leadership; keep your contact information up to date; and be thorough on every social channel. Make it as easy as possible for an interested prospect to get in touch with your company.

The key to mixing creativity and a human touch with B2B marketing is to remember that no matter what, you're creating and delivering campaigns that will reach a human audience. Analyzing the human behavior that drives social data, engaging with customers on a one-to-one basis, and ensuring that your team collaborates with one another helps any marketing initiative inspire loyalty and claim real estate in customers' minds.

In the B2B marketing world, where those human qualities are more rare, such tactics also quickly translate into ROI.

More Resources on Bringing a Human Touch to B2B Marketing

How to Use Empathy in Your B2B Brand Storytelling

14 Highly Effective B2B Marketing and Sales Tactics Based on Emotions

Seven Ways to Show Up Human in Your PR and Marketing Efforts 

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image of Mark Ripley

Mark Ripley is vice-president of sales at Insightly, which develops Cloud-based CRM and project management tools for small and midsize businesses.

LinkedIn: Mark Ripley