Featuring RK Maniyani Chief Technology Officer of True Influence.
The enormous amount of data now available to B2B marketers creates seemingly endless opportunities to identify new markets and reach prospects.
So why, then, do we still hear so many ABM complaints about funnel leaks, poor lead quality and other challenges that undermine Return on Investment (ROI) on marketing and sales budgets?
As a data scientist, I believe that there’s simply no such thing as too much information. However, many marketers appear to be awash in all the data that’s now available and are unable (or at least unprepared) to smartly employ specific data to identify actionable opportunities and grow their businesses.
At True Influence, we believe third-party Intent signal monitoring is essential for adding the context and prioritization that keeps your Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategies from getting bogged down in too much – or, as is often the case, useless – data. Third-party Intent Data provided by services such as our InsightBASE account acceleration platform empowers marketing teams to focus resources on prospects and accounts that are ready to do business.
Intent signal monitoring can help optimize almost any aspect of your marketing and sales operations, from email list segmentation to creating highly personalized sales presentations. In this post, I’ll focus on four common marketing challenges that I’ve seen discussed in recent articles, and how Intent can help you manage each of them.
Defining Your Total Addressable Market
It may seem like a contradiction, but despite almost unlimited access to user data, many marketing teams still do a poor job of identifying the Total Addressable Market (TAM) for their products or services, as discussed in this column at MarTech Today.
The problem here is two-fold:
- Established B2B marketing and sales teams know their markets well enough that they become a complacent and don’t actively search out under-the-radar accounts, or …
- The organization recognizes the need to grow the TAM, and various teams just cobble together data based on very loose criteria.
Neither of these tactics is going to result in closed business.
Intent data monitoring effectively “listens” for intent to purchase across the Internet – there are prospects out there that you don’t know about, or that might be on the periphery of your vision. (Case in point: Our customer Imprivata related an anecdote at the recent SiriusDecisions 2018 Summit about how it added a sales opportunity simply by noticing an intent spike at an otherwise unnamed account.)
Just as importantly, Intent can be used as an indicator for adding accounts to your addressable market. Obviously, prospects must meet strategically defined “fit” metrics – such as revenue potential and geographic distribution – before even begin considered for inclusion. But while firmographic data is essential in determining fit, it’s limited it determining addressability.
This column at B2B International offers some useful tips on how to assess B2B market sizes. Remember, your TAM is the sum of companies that meet your fit criteria and exhibit behaviors that tell you have at least a reasonable chance of engaging them. Most notable here is the importance of what the writer describes as demand-side analysis of your market size, which is where Intent is most valuable.
Intent also lets you act on the writer’s advice to “speak to different audiences,” such as users, suppliers and industry experts, by monitoring activity across a broad spectrum of accounts. Intent provides a form of client input – you should always monitor existing customers for signals new business opportunities, and this intelligence can inform your overall market analysis. This of course cannot replace direct communication with clients, but it’s a valuable addition, or “secondary research,” as the writer calls it.
Interestingly, B2B International also advises you to not get overwhelmed with too much data and be willing to make some assumptions. As is often the case, marketing is part science, part art. But Intent monitoring ensures that any assumptions you make are at least informed assumptions, which is critical.
Identify Your Serviceable Available Market
Serviceable Market is often defined as the segment of the total market that “can be reached.” With modern marketing tech, you can “reach” almost anyone – storage in databases is cheap and mail is essentially free to send.
It’s more accurate to describe SAM as the segment of your total market that can be credibly engaged – your company has the capacity to serve the products and services offered, and you are up to competition from dominant players, particularly in new markets you are trying to break.
Intent monitoring can offer valuable insights in this area – a high volume of search terms on a competitor’s product may indicate that a barrier to entry that must be included in your market analysis.
Poor Lead Quality
SiriusDecisions famously says that the current lead funnel is built to fail 99 percent of the time.
This is largely due to leads being pushed into the funnel that simply shouldn’t be there in the first place, often to meet arbitrary KPIs such as lower costs per lead. But if leads are not likely to convert to business, there’s simply no value is having them in the first place. They aren’t “leaking,” as they often are described – they’re just junk.
This smart piece at Business to Community lists four quick criteria that leads should met before being passed on to Sales. I’d contend that some of these criteria should apply before marketing decides to engage with accounts in a highly targeted ABM strategy, as well. In any case, Intent monitoring is essential in answering two of these questions:
- Is the account aware of your solution and that it needs such a product?
- Is it ready to buy in the near future?
Intense bursts of Intent signal activity not only indicate a general topical interest in your service but also the likely timeframe for purchase. This is invaluable insight for not only advancing a lead to SQL status, but also bumping it to MQL status for resource-intensive content marketing campaigns.
The goal is to identify real, qualified and interested leads – not just anybody you can spray emails to.
“Second Lead Syndrome”
Terry Flaherty of SiriusDecisions has coined the phrase “Second Lead Syndrome” to describe how marketing teams sometimes perceive additional leads at a named account as being of lesser value than an initially engaged prospect. Again, due to some misplaced notion of efficiency or ill-defined quotas, marketing or tele-qualifying teams just stop looking for other inroads to accounts.
This is a fatal mistake in ABM. Although you view accounts as collective targets, you also must develop personalized, one-on-one engagements with key players within those accounts. Each of these individuals make up what Flattery and his colleagues at SiriusDecisions call a Demand Unit, a team within the organization that influences and ultimately makes the spending call. Reaching multiple members of these Demand Units is essential in ABM.
Intent monitoring gives you a sense of the breadth of interest in an account. In addition to the raw volume of users who are researching your solution, Intent signals also allow you to infer if the interest is largely financial, tactical or strategic. This enables marketers to craft and execute personalized messaging plans that target the specific concerns of multiple Demand Unit members.
SiriusDecisions has identified Intent monitoring as an essential component of its waterfall methodology for this very reason.
Smarter Data is Better Data
In this article I’ve touched on just a few key areas where Intent Data signal monitoring can help refine and optimize your ABM strategies. Intent adds real-time user behavior to the firmographic and general research data you are already using to define your markets, set your strategies, and execute campaigns.
Intent isn’t just more data – it makes the data you already have more intelligent and actionable. And that mean more business.