A marketing cloud is an integrated suite of solutions available as web-based services delivered via software-as-a-service. The idea of a marketing cloud isn’t new, but the capabilities they offer change constantly, based on what B2B marketers need. Research finds the most critical marketing cloud capabilities are CRM (59%), marketing automation (49%) and personalization/targeting (46%).
In one survey, 68% of respondents felt customer and digital analytics were the most critical core solutions within a unified suite of marketing tools. This underscores the importance of consistent, insightful data combined with the best marketing cloud solutions to use it.
In fact, a growing marketing cloud application involves use of intent data. Most B2B organizations now draw this intelligence from multiple sources to incorporate into sales and marketing platforms. And along with an expanding number of intent data sources, B2B organizations are adding different types of intent data. First-party data from owned web sources is the most common (74%). 64% incorporate third-party data, while 53% use second-party data sources sourced directly, but not from owned sites. While this rich and growing pool of data is valuable, organizations struggle to normalize and use it.
Positive impact of intent on business results
According to an intent data survey by the Demand Gen Report, more than 70% said intent data has had a positive business impact beyond short-term pipeline improvements. Many cite increases in conversions, productivity and efficiency of revenue operations.
- The benefits of intent data include:
- Account prioritization and scoring for ABM
- Accelerated pipeline
- Better ideal customer profiling
- Insights into targeting for advertising
- Insights into content marketing preferences
Marketing cloud fueled by intent data
Marketing and sales environments have gotten far more complex, and the volume of data now available to us is astronomical. It’s all part of the changing business climate, but the right marketing cloud tames the overwhelming data firehose. Once marketers feel ready to navigate the data nightmare, their next priority is making the information actionable. This requires capabilities that a marketing cloud can help deliver:
Managing and integrating intent data sources
Normalization and cleansing of data from multiple sources
Ensuring data is accurate and actionable
Better activation of data
Beyond the basics: More use cases for intent
B2B brands are not only paying more attention to intent data, they’re also moving beyond its basic uses of simply identifying potential in-market buyers. B2B revenue teams now integrate intent signal intelligence into CRM and revenue systems, marketing automation and other go-to-market strategies.
One challenge in implementing these broader use cases is coordinating the channels for integrated marketing messages and touches. Marketers have found that just because we have more data at our fingertips doesn’t mean we can integrate and optimize it without constant manual intervention and attention. Many organizations use unintegrated, even outdated systems to deliver and analyze marketing campaigns. This problem has contributed to the growing adoption of a marketing cloud tool suite combined with intent data for integrated marketing.
7 reasons to combine intent with a marketing cloud
As companies expand use of intent signals and normalize data across multiple sources and uses, they must manage data handling across different departments and processes. Again, the marketing cloud brings relief to this cross-functional challenge.
The most common reasons for using marketing cloud software:
- Reducing complexity
- Unified user interface
- Single data source
- Better customer experience
- Normalization of data
- More visibility into campaigns and ROI
- Faster cycle times to execute
The following section goes into these seven reasons a little more deeply:
- Reducing complexity is the most important advantage of an integrated approach, with 44% citing this benefit in one study. Integrated cloud technologies reduce complexity in a crowded vendor marketplace and in implementation, and provide a unified user interface (36%).
- Unified user interface – Integrated marketing solutions provide a unified interface, another way of making data easier to access and interpret. Organizations can use all their data from any source to expand their view of the customer for more effective marketing. A single point of interaction reduces duplication and redundancy. It’s also more readily learned by different functions, which is vital to maintaining momentum. With a common interface and seamless customer experience across marketing and sales, more staff from different departments can interact with technology, share information and create campaigns or reports from it.
- Single data source – Complex data can be made manageable, and raw data transformed into marketer-friendly formats. Availability of a single data source contributes to another advantage of an integrated marketing cloud – a better customer experience.
- Better customer experience – Staff in different departments can create campaigns, share information and collaborate more easily. Customer (or user) experience often fails when trying to integrate martech components with CRM. Some marketing cloud providers design their product suites for a more harmonious marriage between customer experience (CX) and CRM technologies. Having a single data source also scored highly in an executive survey, with 40% calling it directly influential in creating better customer experience (38%).
- Normalization of data is another area ripe for advancement in marketing that will benefit from an integrated marketing cloud. Nearly 60% of companies use three or more data sources, and 53% spend more than four hours cleaning up data from various sources. Marketing ops and data teams need consolidation and automation of vendors and processes to support this.
- Faster cycle times to execute – Users find cycle times to execute activities drop dramatically with the adoption of marketing cloud technology.
- Better visibility into return on investment and improved ROI – Improved visibility into customer insights throughout the buying journey leads to shorter pipelines, better prospect targeting and increased conversions.
KPIs to justify intent data
Companies have realized that intent data can not only help their sales teams focus their outreach, it also helps target advertising dollars and determine topics to address in content marketing. Expanding use cases like these bring in more ROI results that justify broader application.
It’s well worth taking advantage of a marketing cloud to simplify processes, gain more control over basic communications tasks, and strip out unnecessary cost. Achievable KPIs like these help justify activating intent data through an integrated marketing cloud platform:
- Better budget allocation by prioritizing campaigns towards accounts likely to convert
- Increase in pipeline acceleration
- Higher conversion to sales-qualified accounts
- Increase in sales rep productivity from account prioritization
- Content more relevant to prospects’ needs
Marketing cloud leads to more uses for intent
B2B marketers and sales view intent data as fuel for high-priority initiatives like account-based marketing (ABM), content marketing and targeted advertising, plus closer sales and marketing alignment. With a marketing cloud in place, marketers can bring intent data into more use cases like these.
How intent data brings value through wider operational use:
- Adoption within lead- and account-scoring for more accuracy
- Real-time account prioritization for ABM
- Trigger CRM and MAP actions based on intent signals
- Drive more effective inside sales conversations and actions
- Arm sales execs with relevant insights about contacts and buying groups
Using intent data to boost efficiency
Intent data is now used across nearly all engagement points for marketing and sales, and it’s being integrated into a variety of systems and processes. Use of intent data will only continue to expand as providers introduce improvements in both platforms and processes.
There’s significant opportunity from these new platforms and processes to increase efficiency and precision, so companies can expand use of intent data at various stages of sales and marketing engagements. Revenue teams will continue to prioritize the ability to map signal data to individuals within the buying team. This benefits marketing and sales ops who suffer from too few quality contacts for their pipeline. Marketing and sales outreach can be more efficient at the contact level, and advanced cloud platforms will be key in making this a reality.
Better tools, better teams
The shift to a marketing cloud platform isn’t just about improving technology; it’s also about helping people who need integrated capabilities to do their jobs. The right combination of cloud technologies can transform the capabilities of marketing, sales and operations teams. These tools help you get in market faster and change the nature of work. Teams spend less time on grunt work, so leaders can make the best use of their groups’ skill sets. The results of the Demand Gen Report Survey reinforce the business value of intent intelligence across components of revenue operations. Get your copy to learn more about the expanding uses of intent data and the critical role of the marketing cloud.