An Interview With Shepherd Smith, VP of Marketing, True Influence
B2B organizations are taking a more data-driven approach to every aspect of their marketing initiatives, including the email channel. When intent data is applied to email, marketers can leverage that data to increase personalization, timeliness and relevancy in their messaging.
Demand Gen Report: B2B marketers are aware of the potential of intent data to enhance email initiatives. What has changed in 2016 that they should know about?
Shepherd Smith: Adoption of intent data in B2B marketing is following a common technology arc — a good idea is born and brought to market, but often in a format that is difficult to use. At some point, innovation brings that idea to the tipping point and it becomes easily usable to its intended audience. At True Influence, our goal was to put intent data in the hands of marketing end users (as opposed to data scientists) — that meant developing a user interface designed specifically for marketers and building out functionality to support each B2B marketing use case. That productization was completed in January 2016 and this coming year is going to be fascinating as we all get to see what marketers do with this new capability.
DGR: How do the email campaigns that B2B marketers execute in response to Intent Signals™ differ from their standard campaigns?
Smith: Intent signals indicate, among other things, that a prospect company has begun the online research process that typically precedes a purchase. Most B2B marketers, when made aware of this fact, choose to send content to companies in this very exciting situation that is much different than the standard educational, nurturing content
they send on an ongoing basis. The intelligence provided by intent signals allows marketers to send content that is much more mid-funnel and product-focused, often with an emphasis on differentiation, case studies, and ROI — similar to the content we might send to individuals who pass a certain lead scoring threshold, but now on the account level.
DGR: In your experience, where do you see intent data having the biggest impact on email marketing?
Smith: One example of what the productization of intent data can mean — because it includes integrations with marketing automation platforms such as Marketo and Eloqua — is that marketers can build “set it and forget it” email programs delivering the tailored content we just discussed automatically. Imagine how much marketers will enjoy knowing that whenever a target company begins online research, that intent data fact will be fed into their MAP and will automatically trigger the email campaign that was designed for companies in that situation, and at the earliest possible stage in their buying journey.
DGR: To be clear, tell us what you mean when you use the term “intent data.”
Smith: “Intent data” refers to a wide range of digital actions, with the largest single component being visits to web pages across the internet. Other examples include blogs visited, white papers downloaded, webinars registered for, etc. Our data supply chain consists of 30 different sources, so marketers today are no longer limited to receiving intent data intelligence from any single community.
DGR: What kinds of results can B2B marketers expect from leveraging intent data in their email initiatives?
Smith: A/B testing to date shows improvements in click-through rates in the 300%-400% range. However, in the largest test we’ve conducted to date among several dozen large-scale email campaigns over an eight-week period in late 2015, the improvement was an average of 451%. This was simple apples-to-apples testing using identical emails with the same calls-to-action. These are attention-getting results, but they don’t take into account the even greater impact that marketers will enjoy by being able to send the tailored mid-funnel content described earlier — doing this will move the needle where it matters even more — in increases to MQLs, SALs, Opportunities, and Revenue.