craig customer journey

Measuring Intent Monitoring’s Impact Along Your Prospects’ Entire Customer Journey

Featuring Craig Weiss, COO of True Influence.

Any Marketing tech solution is going to come with a lot promises. And that’s certainly the case with Intent Data monitoring services, like those offered through True Influence’s InsightBASE account acceleration platform.

We’ll be the first to tell you: Understanding the full scope of your prospects’ content engagement across the Internet can increase response, conversion and ultimately Return on Investment (ROI) for your Sales and Marketing efforts.

We have absolute confidence in these promises – we’ve seen the results with our clients and in our own business. But we also realize that, ultimately, your organization must set quantifiable goals and measure the impact third-party Intent Data has on your Account-Based Marketing (ABM) programs.

Let me be clear: Intent Data is a powerful tool. But to realize the full potential of Intent, you must embrace it as a transformative force – your content must become more personalized, your list segmentation must become more sophisticated, and your Sales presentations must become more insightful.

With such a holistic approach in place, Intent will drive improvement across virtually all your Sales and Marketing metrics. Really, the only limitation is how deeply you care to analyze your results. Our own RK Maniyani recently discussed how Intent can factor into meaningful analysis of email frequency and contact database attrition.

But, you’ve got to start to someplace. Here’s my take on three of the most commonly discussed metrics that lift with Intent Data, along with one that I think doesn’t get mentioned quite enough.

Email Response

Email is the front door of modern B2B marketing, and not surprisingly email response is the number-one driver for many of the Intent programs that we have helped our clients implement. And we have seen response rates go up as much as 4x or 5x on well-crafted campaigns.

Note that I said “well-crafted” campaigns. Intent is a powerful tool, but seeing these kinds of results requires a commitment to changing the way you do email.

Intent allows your Marketing teams to select topics at peak levels of interest within an account, then micro-target key decision-makers within those accounts with highly personalized messaging. The content must match the opportunity, and it must provide real value to the prospect.

Our role as a solution provider is not only to provide Intent signal data, but also to help review the client’s methodology to ensure they are fully leveraging this data. With the right methodology in place, email response gains can be eye-popping. One client, B2B marketing agency Bulldog Solutions, told us they are seeing click-through rates of 22 percent. The industry average CTR for agencies is less than 4 percent.

We tend to track opens, click-throughs and resulting conversions as core response metrics. The reality is that all performance tracking is a little bit art, a little bit science. You must continuously monitor response and adjust your expectations based on market trends, seasonality and countless other factors.

But I can say with confidence that If you are not seeing a significant lift in email response after a few months of employing Intent Data monitoring, you need to re-evaluate your methodologies and do some re-optimization.

Increased SQL Generation

I’ll just come out and say it — if you are marking leads that have downloaded a single whitepaper as being ready for a Sales phone call, you are fooling yourself. You’re just exacerbating the problem of forcing the lead back to the start of the nurturing cycle, where you will be lucky if you can start over.

Obviously, we’d love for the next step for all our marketing leads to be entering the sales cycle. But you can’t fall into the trap of “chasing the bluebird” and rushing leads to Sales to meet a quarterly quota. successful B2B marketing with Intent Data is about optimizing your methodology for the long haul.

Remember, 80 percent of the B2B buyer journey is now conducted independently, without Sales intervention. Intent allows you to more effectively guide and measure a lead’s progress through the many touchpoints required to genuinely qualify them for Sales.

Intent can also give you intelligence on where a lead is on that buyer journey. This post at Opgen Media lists a number of signals that indicate a lead is moving toward Sales qualification. The two that jump out at me are:

– Is the prospect asking questions?
– Is the prospect exhibiting a sense of urgency?

Both these questions can be greatly informed by Intent signal monitoring.

The payoff for this optimization is ultimately reflected in ROI for your overall campaign efforts, when these carefully nurtured and genuinely Sale-qualified leads begin converting into business. This payoff may take a while, but it can significant. In year two, at the end of a typical B2B sales cycle, you may see 3x to 4x lift in ROI on a successfully optimized campaign.

In the first year of an optimized campaign, you’ll need to stay focused on improved response and conversion at pre-defined, meaningful points on the prospect’s journey to Sales qualification.

Shortened Sales Cycle

To me, the secret of shortening your average B2B Sales cycle is simply not wasting time on the front end engaging with prospects and accounts that aren’t interested in your product or service.

This requires the discipline to not rush leads to premature SQL status, as we just discussed, and ensuring that your valuable Sales resources aren’t out there chasing those bluebirds. That will result in either dead ends (mostly likely) or costly nurturing activities that are best left to Marketing.

Intent monitoring can occasionally identify accounts that have already begun their purchase journeys, allowing you to introduce yourself with assets that are appropriate to their current mindset. If an account you haven’t yet engaged is exhibiting a sense of urgency, you can enter the fray with a high-value asset and perhaps win the business.

But I believe it’s unrealistic to think you’ll dramatically cut the length of the purchase journey for legitimately Sales-qualified accounts. Again, these are self-directed business leaders who are going to set their own agendas. And if you are doing your homework, Intent signal monitoring will let you know when to get in on the ground floor with most accounts in your market.

So if your current sales cycle is 6-8 months, with very limited exception, you are not going to start closing new deals within the first three months of implementing Intent Data monitoring.
The payoff will come in that 3x and 4x lift in ROI at the end of the Sales cycle.

Inbound Website Traffic

This metric doesn’t get a lot of attention, but if you are using Intent Data to create content that’s valuable to your named accounts, it’s also going to get noticed by your market as whole.

You should see a lift in referral site traffic from bloggers and news sites that link to your posts and research reports, as well as a bump in organic search traffic as your reputation grows in Google and other engines. And remember, your prospects are out there researching their buying decisions every day – they can find you as easily as you can find them.

You probably won’t see your inbound traffic double or triple after implementing Intent, particularly if you already have a meaningful search-engine optimization (SEO) strategy. But the traffic you do get will be highly engaged, and should convert at an accelerated rate.

Just keep in mind that this not going to happen if you publish nothing but straight sales pitches – we are talking research and actionable information. The same kind of content that drives conversions throughout your nurturing programs.

Intent for the Long Haul

Ultimately, the metric that’s going to prove the value of your company’s investment in Intent Data monitoring is more closed business.

Intent can dramatically increase response and conversion rates along a prospect’s journey to becoming your customer, so long as your Sales and Marketing teams fully embrace its potential and continuously optimize their programs to take full advantage of the insights Intent signal monitoring provides.

It’s a long-term commitment to a holistic approach, but it’s worth it.

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