The Year Ahead for B2B Data Marketers: Risks and Opportunities

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With 2022 firmly underway, B2B data marketers are back to the grindstone - building out their databases, designing creative campaigns and generating new leads. But the first quarter also presents an opportunity to consider the challenges and opportunities of the year ahead, and adjust strategy accordingly.

As the UK gradually recovers from the pandemic, how can sales and marketing leaders position themselves to take advantage of growth opportunities? What risks should they be aware of?

In this article, we’ll find out; examining a range of topics, from the government’s consultation on the future of data legislation in the UK, to the opportunities presented by changing work habits, and more.

The Future of Data in the UK

Unbeknownst to some, when the UK left the EU in January 2020, the EU’s GDPR was effectively copied into UK law almost verbatim. The “UK GDPR” maintained the status quo, allowing the UK to gain a (relatively) quick equivalence decision - as required by the EU, considering the UK’s new designation as a “third country”. Equivalence effectively means that the EU will consider the data of EU citizens collected, processed, and stored in the UK to be GDPR compliant, as the UK’s regulatory environment offers equivalent protections to those of the EU.

A New Direction

In August 2021, Oliver Dowden (then UK minister for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport) set out the government’s plan to diverge from the EU’s data regime in an interview with The Telegraph. He suggested that, in many cases, the provisions of the GDPR are too onerous, with opportunities for UK business being stymied by the existing regulations. In November 2021, the government concluded its public consultation on reforms to the UK’s data protection regime, entitled “Data: a new direction”, but at the time of writing, has made no announcement regarding an updated white paper or draft legislation.

Whether data reform is a real priority for the government remains to be seen - some have branded the exercise as sabre-rattling towards the EU, whilst others see it as a key component of the government’s Global Britain strategy.

Risks and Rewards for Marketers

Regulatory change increases uncertainty in the short term, which is a risk in itself. It’s reasonable to assume, however, that if you’re collecting and processing customer data in a GDPR compliant way, you’ll be compliant in the future - both in the UK and the EU. Although yet to be finalised, the UK’s deregulations are likely to reduce the administrative costs of marketing, particularly when dealing with domestic data. The newly-appointed information commissioner, John Edwards, said he expects to be able to provide greater flexibility to business in future in a recent interview with the FT.

Whilst divergence from the EU does raise the likelihood of the adequacy decision being withdrawn in the mid-to-long term, UK organisations can always opt to comply with the GDPR when dealing with EU citizens, and contract their suppliers to do the same. Providing the EU doesn’t take issue with the rule of law in the UK - accepting that the UK justice system can adjudicate contract disputes fairly - the use of standard contractual clauses, pre-authorised by the EU is likely to suffice.

Growth Opportunities

The UK economy has returned to growth, and according to OECD business sentiment was strong for Q4-21. With that in mind, there is an inherent growth opportunity to be harnessed simply by maintaining a business-as-usual approach. Thereafter, proactively adjusting your plans to reflect changing market conditions can help you outperform. McKinsey suggest that surpassing competitors by carefully navigating potential COVID-19-exit disruptions is one of the biggest opportunities for business this year.

The Domestic Market

The recent Benefits of Brexit paper highlights many ways in which the UK Government intends to invest in infrastructure or reshape regulation - to foster growth and attract investment to the UK. For B2B marketers, this will present natural opportunities.

B2B Marketing Strategy

Many B2B marketers still operate under the incorrect assumption that they may only process prospect data having gained consent. As the DMA points out, the GDPR legal basis of “Legitimate Interest” is significantly underutilised. UK B2B marketers can use this basis to significantly widen their prospect pool, particularly by working with reputable data partners, who conduct careful research to identify contacts and ascertain relevance, in order to support their clients’ compliance.

Particularly as the end of third-party cookies approaches, marketers should assess the effectiveness of their digital ad campaigns carefully, and consider alternative channels. For instance, research conducted by direct mail industry body Jicmail shows that direct mail enjoys average open rates of 80%, and direct mail has proven incredibly resilient during Covid as have other Direct Marketing approaches including Phone & Email.

Sales Integration

B2B marketers have long been aware of the need for alignment with their sales colleagues, but to succeed in 2022, achieving full integration has become imperative. Customers expect an organisation to know them individually, whether they are coming into contact with sales, marketing, or service.

B2B marketing and sales leaders should work together closely to ensure the technology, people and processes are in place to facilitate this, as a unified customer experience will be vital for growth in the year ahead.

Marketers should work with sales colleagues to identify content needs, facilitate outreach campaigns, and integrate outbound phone and video calls into campaign flows. Likewise, sales leaders should collaborate with marketers to develop email templates, automate follow-ups, agree handover triggers, and re-consider target markets, so that good prospects who aren’t currently in-market are included in the nurture pool of contacts for the future. In this way, sales teams maximise time available for high-value activities such as outbound calling and in-person appointments - and marketers can focus on developing high value content, and maximising it’s reach.

If you’re looking to position your organisation for growth, get in touch with the experts at Corpdata today. As the UK economy strengthens, give your teams the high-quality prospect data they need to take advantage of the recovery, and power your acquisition programmes.

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