B2B marketing is about quantifiable results. Every marketing dollar must be clearly mapped to revenue. And that goes for everyone, from internal content marketing teams to agencies who purchase media and fulfill lead orders for B2B sellers to meet client demand.
In fact, agencies may face the most pressure to clearly demonstrate their value. Agency contracts are first up on the chopping block when budgets get tight. Clients want better leads for less spend, and they are more than willing to pull work in-house or look for another provider if their demands aren’t met.
Intent Monitoring, which identifies in-market prospects based on their online behavior, can give B2B agencies the edge they need to stand out in this demanding landscape. Intent signal monitoring solutions, like True Influence’s InsightBASE® account acceleration platform, can help agencies optimize every aspect of their lead-generation and ad campaigns, from account targeting to personalized content.
If your agency is still working from a “here’s what we can offer you” checklist of traditional segmentation and profiling services, you’re doing nothing to differentiate yourself in a grueling market. There’s simply nothing new under the sun there.
Intent monitoring adds the extra layer of insight that can take an agency’s advertising and lead-gen offerings to the next level.
Client Demand: It’s tough out there for agencies
Just how revenue and ROI-driven have B2B marketing become? Demand Gen Report’s 2017 survey showed that 70 percent of marketers expected their demand generation budgets to grow in 2018. Gartner, on the other hand, found that overall B2B marketing budgets are on the decline in its most recent CMO survey.
So, there’s a continuing shift in B2B marketing spend away from brand and into data-driven areas were quantifiable return is the measuring stick. And this trend is hitting agencies hard. Business 2 Community recently reported that the biggest B2B agencies are seeing their slowest growth in recent memory. In fact, creative agencies saw a 10 percent drop in business in 2016 as clients brought more and more such projects in-house.
Clients also want to know exactly how every dollar spent is impacting their purchase journey. Multi-channel attribution is a huge trend in B2B — MarTechAdvisor recently cited it as one of the most important trends in performance-based marketing. Sellers want to quantify each touchpoint in the customer lifecycle, and agency deliverables are going to be subject to this same level of scrutiny.
Clients want more for less. They want demonstrated return. Budgets are tight, and they see agency services as a premium.
Intent to the rescue
The challenges may seem dire, but they also create an opportunity for agencies to shine. If your clients expect you to be a premium channel, the answer is to employ the market intelligence needed to be a premium channel. Earn the business.
We talk a lot here at True Influence about the how intent can lift practically every phase of B2B marketing and sales, from custom marketing content creation to prioritizing sales calls. Most of this conversation is directed at internal marketing teams, who also face constant pressure to do more with less. And as we observed at the most SiriusDecisions 2018 Summit, the message is gaining traction – our booth was flooded with visitors after our customer Imprivata won the 2018 Return on Integration (ROI) Award in the category of demand creation and lead management.
B2B agencies are starting to get the message, too. I think a lot of the drive is coming from their clients, who thirst for a more thoughtful process and confidence that they are taking advantage of the latest market intelligence technology.
Intent is a lynchpin for agencies to gain more insight into prospect needs and demands, which in turn lets them offer more value to their customers.
The applications are almost limitless, but here are four areas when agencies can see the most immediate return on an investment in intent.
Better email conversion rates
Let’s get one thing straight — email is still the king in B2B marketing. Demand Gen Report 2018 survey respondents identified it as their top digital channel for both early stage engagement and driving to conversion, with an 81 percent positive ranking in the later category blowing all other channels out of the water.
Still, email marketing has its pitfalls. Lists sources are dubious and click-through rates (CTRs) are low. These issues are exacerbated for agencies, which often are on a pay-as-you-go model for list access. (Internal marketing teams can indulge, at least for a while, in the delusion that they have “free” access to hammer their house lists, although customer DB fatigue is a real cost factor in meaningful campaign ROI analysis.)
Intent is a super-weapon when it comes to smart email targeting and improved response. By identifying companies and locations that are actively researching your client’s solution, you can pinpoint campaigns to in-market prospects who are most likely to respond and ultimately convert. You can send smaller campaigns to smaller, more carefully curated lists – which also provides better opportunities for content and messaging personalization.
Recognizing even a fraction of this lift on email campaign performance would enable an agency to double the ROI on an email campaign. It’s a level of targeting the right people, at the right time, that basic personas can’t match.
(Source: Demand Gen Report)
More Effective CPM/CPC Spend
Online advertising has become so commoditized that it’s easy to view it almost as a fixed cost. But the same intent-based market intelligence that can so dramatically improve email response can also help you identify company domains that are the best targets for CPM/CPC spend.
A little self-promotion: Our data onboarding process for InsightBASE includes rigorous checks for bots, false clicks and other noise that notoriously compromise digital ad campaigns. We also include location-specific intent monitoring, so you can target companies within your desired footprint. There’s no reason to waste spend on a Florida branch office that has no interest in your client’s solution when purchase intent at the West Coast office is spiking.
Higher lead quality
Historically, demand gen campaign objectives have been defined simply as delivering X number of leads that meet persona and perhaps firmographic criteria. Whether or not those leads converted to revenue ultimately was on the client.
In the era of attribution, that’s not going to cut it. A post at AdStage notes that delivery of high-quality MQLs and SQLs now is the leading metric by which B2B marketers are judged, at 33 percent. Bulk delivery of leads lags dramatically behind at 14 percent. Agencies, particularly those who want to position themselves as premium channels for their clients, face these same pressures.
Intent signal monitoring lets you connect with the best prospects when their intent to purchase is spiking. This criteria alone should flag a lead as being ready for advanced stage MQL programs and a strong nudge toward Sales engagement.
The AdStage post I mentioned earlier advises that to meet this challenge, marketers need to invest in new technologies to improve efficiencies and ROI. Intent monitoring needs to be on that shopping list.
Expanded target account base
B2B marketing agencies typically understand their key markets, and clients are always willing to share their wish list accounts for targeting and campaign planning. But wish lists can lead to tunnel vision when it comes to finding new business.
Intent Signal Monitoring platforms scan the entire Internet for spikes in activity that indicate purchase intent. InsightBASE monitors about 2 million domains and catalogs millions of signals each day. This breadth of market intelligence pinpoints engagement opportunities not only at know accounts, but also companies and locations that are off the client’s radar.
This is particularly valuable when working with clients with a strong named account or Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. In fact, SiriusDecisions has designated intent as a required component in the Active Demand phase of its ABM waterfall.
You may know who you think you’re targeting. You may understand who your client would like to target, and have very well-defined prospect personas. But by adding the additional layer of Intent Monitoring to your B2B campaign planning, you open up a broader universe of potential new business.
That’s a powerful value-add that will establish your agency as a truly premium channel.
Intent can be an agency’s secret weapon
B2B agencies are up against client demands to generate higher response and better leads – all on tighter budgets.
Intent Monitoring empower agencies to target campaigns to prospects who not only meet established persona standards but are also ready to buy. The results are return on client market budgets that will establish your agency as an indispensable channel for new business – not just another budget line item to cut.
If you’re ready to learn even 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, or check out these other intent data articles: