Expert Insight: Why B2B Marketers Need to Use Data to Make Smarter Decisions

marketing, content marketingMarketers have an abundance of data at their fingertips, but many are struggling to use it to inform critical business and strategy decisions.

Dun and Bradstreet recently commissioned a study by Forrester titled “The B2B Data Activation Priority,” which found that only 50 percent of marketing and sales decisions are made using data.

To learn more about why this is the case, as well as how B2B marketers can improve, we spoke to Derek Slayton, general manager of the sales and marketing line of business at Dun & Bradstreet, for his insights.

According to your report, just 50 percent of marketing and sales professionals are using data to make decisions – why is that the case and how can marketers improve?

“This comes down to two factors. In many cases, organizations are not fully confident in the quality and accuracy of their data. It isn’t structured in a way that ties it back to a company and allows them to take really concrete actions. But many sales and marketing teams also struggle with having their data connected and easily accessible in order to drive to execution. They often are using some data, but not all the data they need, to make decisions.”

marketing, digital marketingWhat is the most interesting finding/statistic in the report, in your opinion?

“I believe it’s the stat we just discussed; the fact that only half of decisions are made on data. Everyone is claiming data is the world’s greatest commodity, but if it’s not being used to drive smarter decisions, what value does it really have? I think we need to get to a better number than half over the next few years.”

Eighty percent of respondents said that they struggle to manage the volume, variety, and velocity of their data – what can marketers do to address these specific problems?

“The problem many companies have is the fact that there is no single view of their customers and prospects. The data is typically unstructured and unorganized. It’s fragmented across divisions and systems, cascading into CRMs without the structure or linkages.

“A common example would be two sales people working with the same company in different locations without even knowing it because they simply entered the contact information differently in the systems (IBM vs. International Business Machines) or part of the same company (Microsoft and LinkedIn).

“What’s needed is a common set of data definitions and data sets across their execution systems. This is the first step towards establishing that single view. As we learned in the report, some companies are slowly making strides in this area, but there’s still a long way to go.”

Only 49 percent of marketers claim they have data they can trust to be accurate. How can marketers better manage data and improve  data hygiene?

“I believe the lack of trust comes from the challenges we’re seeing above; the data is incomplete and inaccurate and lacks a consistent structure. And addressing this is not a one-time project given the rate of change and continual supply of new, fractional data sets. What’s really needed is for this data to be ‘mastered.’  This is a somewhat new concept for marketers, but one that’s been around for some time.

“Master data intends to bring structure to the data chaos. It’s essentially common data elements such as identifiers, hierarchies, segmentation categories and other basic information that enterprises share between their systems and processes. This plays a major role in managing and improving data hygiene.”


Derek Slayton is a global B2B product and marketing leader with more than 20 years of experience. As General Manager and SVP of the Global Sales and Marketing Line of Business for Dun & Bradstreet, Slayton aligns the company’s product roadmap with its go-to-market strategy and fosters relationships with prospects and customers looking to improve their revenue streams through more targeted, and continuously managed, data and analytics.

Slayton works to develop valuable partnerships on behalf of the organization and drives the strategic direction of the Sales and Marketing solution portfolio.


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