Featuring RK Maniyani, CTO, True Influence
B2B marketing and sales professionals have heard by now that Big Data is an essential element of successful Account-Based Marketing (ABM) programs. The more quality information your enterprise can gather about target accounts, the greater your advantage in winning new business and larger contracts.
The challenge, is to find meaningful relationships and actionable insights in data, that just keeps getting bigger and bigger, as your team integrates third-party data sources with your own customer intelligence.
Industry analysts, including the leading research firm SiriusDecisions, contend that B2B marketers must expand their ABM programs to include third-party data sources. This constitutes several million additional data signals flowing into your analysis and marketing automation systems weekly, in additionl to the huge amounts of first-party data you are already collecting about customers who engage directly with your company.
Without a clear understanding of how third-party data can more clearly illustrate the purchase journey of target accounts, and the decision-makers within them, your team can miss out on tremendous opportunity. That’s not a hypothetical statement — the ABM Leadership Alliance’s 2017 State of the Market report says, that B2B marketers who successfully adopt ABM see a 171 percent lift in average annual contract value.
In fully exploiting third-party data for ABM, the key is to remember these two fundamental components of the ABM methodology:
Third-party data services, including True Influence’s InsightBASE, offer a wealth of information through our intent signal monitoring technology, about what people within a target account are researching and reading across the Internet. The millions of intent signals we gather monthly provide a snapshot of an account’s behavior. We also provide verified contact info within accounts, to help your team successfully personalize messaging to key influencers.
That’s a lot of data to manage, but it’s worth the investment. SiriusDecisions notes that better data means better account selection, and can lead to as much as a 40 percent lift in the sales price.
Big Data and third-party information permeate every aspect of ABM. Here are just a few categories where third-party data help identify key insights that drive a successful ABM program.
Identify Promising Accounts
The simple fact that people within a company are conducting a high volume of searches about your product category does not mean that company is ready to become a named account in your ABM program. Qualifying firmographic data, such annual revenue and number of employees, are available in our InsightBASE service, and can help you decide if an account meets you baseline as a desirable customer.
Once a firm meets your target client profile, account-level intent signal data illustrates current interest in your product or service. Typically, you will want to monitor for spikes in searches and other activity across the Internet, to determine when an account is most primed for contact. Searches for very general terms – for example, “web-based accounting software” – tend to indicate an initial level of engagement and interest, while searches on specific product features and capabilities may mean the account is ready to purchase.
We suggest that our InsightBASE customers view intent signal data in tiers, to quickly identify the most acute spikes in interest. You also want to take note when intent signal activity drops off for an account – as this may signal it’s best to pull back on aggressive marketing tactics for a while.
Correlating third-party intent signal data, with your own first-party intelligence, can also be a powerful advantage. As a B2B company, activity on your product pages indicates a more advanced state of engagement than general searches on news sites, for example. Advanced funnel activities, such as webinar attendance or whitepaper downloads, in your own channels not only indicate acute interest on the part on the specific lead, but also infer that an account is getting serious about researching a purchase.
Establish a Comprehensive Understanding of the Account
Once your team establishes that an account meets your basic firmographic and interest requirements, the next step is to identify the key decision-makers. Our InsightBASE service includes confirmed business contact information, including job role and department, that enables you to quickly identify the core hierarchy of individuals in the account whom you need to win over.
You’ll also want to gather technographic information about the account, particularly in product categories, where you want to make a sale. InsightBASE includes a technology install filter which identifies key technographic attributes, such as the productivity or enterprise planning software currently in use at the account.
Once again, third-party contact and business attribute data can create truly powerful insights when coupled with your team’s own first-party data and research. ABM analysts suggest that your team develop models of “buying teams” or “influence matrixes” that span departments in an account, and exert high-level influence on spending decisions. Janet Rubio, our CMO here at True Influence, has some interesting insights on this issue. Clearly your marketing and sales teams do contribute research to help build out compelling, deep profiles of an account’s history and current culture.
Create Relevant Content and Offers
While ABM marketers prioritize their efforts, based on their evaluation of accounts, they ultimately have to engage and convince individuals within the account to win business.
A recent report by eMarketer notes that, data is essential to understanding audience needs and interest, at both the account and individual level. As you might expect, eMarketer suggests that multiple data sources should be correlated and analyzed, to create successful personalized communication.
At a minimum, interest level as indicated by intent signal data should be compared with job roles, and company firmographic data, to personalize messaging. For example, a CFO at a medium-sized enterprise might well respond to messaging about the cost benefits of a SaaS ERP solution, while the CTO may be more interested in uptime and security metrics. Paired with first-party data you may have also collected about the account, marketers can identify whether the time is right for a high-funnel engagement offer, or a solicitation for a demo, or other deeper interaction to shorten the sales cycle and drive higher revenue.
Many B2B marketers employ some level of personalization in their email campaigns, but the successful management and analysis of Big Data can extend the approach across all customer contact channels, including your Web site and social media.
Use Big Data for Closed-Loop Analytics
As previously mentioned, third-party ABM data can be the most powerful, when coupled with your own in-house data, and there’s no more powerful signal than a closed sale. Every organization will determine their own metrics, but tracking the length of sales cycles and close rates for ABM campaigns augmented by third-party data, as compared to purely in-house efforts is essential.
As you understand how intent signals translate into engagement within your own market, you may want to tweak your tiering model for measuring account-level interest. At some point, you will want to identify outlier account profiles – some companies may be ready to move directly to Sales, while some may need to be tabled as you allocate resources to more promising targets.
And as always, please be mindful of data quality. Bad data can undermine your entire ABM initiative, so it is important to constantly evaluate all of your data sources, both third-party, and in-house.
Big Data Offers Big Opportunities
ABM is proving its value. SiruisDecisions reports that 93 percent of marketers say it’s a key strategy, and the trend is growing, as more and more B2B marketers win additional business with ABM. Integrating third-party data into your overall ABM program will help your marketing team identify the most promising accounts, and build strong relationships with the key influencers in those companies.