For brands trying to attract and retain customers in today’s crowded, noisy environment, B2B marketing that “just works” is no longer enough. Attention spans are now shorter than that of a goldfish, and every minute of every day, hundreds of brands are competing for your targets’ eyes and ears. To rise above all the noise and resonate with your audience, your marketing has to sing. And nothing makes beautiful marketing music like the winning combination of marketing automation and intent data.
Why Marketing Automation?
The task of nurturing leads through your marketing funnel with a steady stream of customized messages is a massive undertaking — too large to be handled manually. Fortunately, marketing automation offers a simple, cost-effective, readily available solution.
A robust marketing automation platform lets you nurture leads from the moment they show up on your radar until they’re ready for a call from your sales team — and beyond. For example, when a lead downloads a white paper, you can automate the email that delivers the document as well as an entire drip campaign offering further information on the same topic. If the same lead attends a webinar, you can automate a campaign designed to guide him to the next stage of the buyer’s journey — maybe offering a free consultation or demo.
While marketing automation platforms were once only available to large organizations with budgets to match, today’s marketplace offers cost-effective, easy-to-use solutions to fit any organization’s needs.
Filling the Automation Gaps
As helpful as marketing automation can be, it’s not a stand-alone cure-all for every marketing woe. For example, your automation solution is only as effective as the list it helps you reach. If the leads coming in to your system are low quality — people and organizations with a slim-to-zero chance of becoming customers — even the most brilliantly executed email campaigns will do you no good.
Another thing your automation platform can’t do on its own is tell you where targets are in the buyer’s journey. A lead who downloads a white paper may be ready to make a decision next week, or she may be doing initial research for a decision that could be months away. You can make guesses about how close — or how far away — leads are from a decision, but for reliable data on their actual intent, you’ll need to think beyond your marketing automation platform.
That’s where intent data comes in.
Why Intent Data + Automation = Sweet Marketing Music
Marketing automation is a powerful tool for any B2B marketing strategy… and intent data makes it even better.
B2B marketing teams who have implemented intent signal monitoring along with their marketing automation platforms have discovered a host of benefits, especially in five key areas:
1. Generating Quality Leads
One of the biggest challenges of using marketing automation is that you can spend significant resources trying to engage “dead” leads — those who have no intention of buying your product or service.
By tracking the online activity of actual business users, your intent signal monitoring platform generates leads who have already “raised their hands,” indicating through their behavior that they are looking to solve a problem your product addresses. When you bring these leads into your system, you start with the advantage of already knowing that they have an active interest in your solutions.
2. Integrating Automatically
Another challenge marketing teams face is the situation of bringing in a high-performance technology … only to find out that integrating it with their current workflows takes so much effort that the net benefit turns out to be minimal.
A robust intent data platform will integrate directly with your marketing automation system, feeding those high-quality leads into your system, ready to be engaged.
3. Knowing Where Leads Are in the Buyer’s Journey
One of the problems with the traditional approach to targeting — using company size, industry, location, job title, etc. — is that it offers no insight on where leads are in the buyer’s journey. B2B decisions can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, possibly even a year or more. Without knowing where your targets are in the process, you can miss opportunities to engage those who are ready to buy … and risk annoying those who are not.
Intent data platforms let you track targets’ online activity and alerts you to spikes that could indicate a decision is approaching. For example, when a target is ready to buy, she may spend more time online researching the specific features of the products available. Those intent signals can generate an alert from your platform and trigger an automated email campaign, allowing you to capitalize on the opportunity and guide the target into a sales conversation.
4. Informing Your Content
When many B2B marketing teams plan the content for their automated campaigns, it usually involves a lot of guesswork. Sure, you can research hot topics in your targets’ industry, look at which content has generated traffic and engagement in the past, and even poll your audience on the topics that interest them. But there’s been no easy way to build campaigns around what your targets are actually dealing with at any given moment — until now.
Intent data offers insights into what your targets are searching for, engaging with, and sharing online, offering a treasure trove of content ideas. You may, for example, discover that your targets are highly concerned about an upcoming regulatory change that’s related to your product area. By executing automated email campaigns around this topic, you can capitalize on their interest and attract engagement from those who want to know more.
5. Fueling ABM Follow-Up
Account-based marketing (ABM) has emerged as a powerful trend among B2B marketers. By micro-targeting companies that show strong potential to become customers, marketing and sales teams can focus their efforts on influencing that organization’s decision-making process. Marketing automation can be a powerful tool in executing ABM strategies by automating your follow-up with personalized messages to specific contacts.
Intent data offers the “fuel” your ABM strategy needs to succeed, helping you choose the right accounts to target based on actual online activity and develop micro-targeted content for automated email campaigns.
For B2B marketing teams looking to get a jump on the competition, having the right tools is a good start. Having the right combination of tools is even better. By leveraging the power of intent data and integrating it with your marketing automation platform, you can create a harmony that resonates with your targets, keeps them engaged, and guides them down the road to a closed deal.
If you’re ready to learn more — and to get some practical advice on adding intent data to your marketing strategy, download a copy of our ebook Quick Start Guide to Intent-Based Marketing.