For 10 Years, Understanding Buyer Intent Has Been the Engine for True Influence’s Growth
About two years after we founded True Influence, we realized we needed to change the game.
RK Maniyani and I initially targeted the emerging B2B marketing automation software category when we incorporated True Influence back in August 2008. RK, our CTO, and his team quickly developed what I still consider to be a world-class product offering.
But timing is everything and the timing just wasn’t right. B2B marketers could see the value in what we were doing, but they simply weren’t ready to commit. By 2010, there were no more than 200 B2B marketing automation installs worldwide. And we weren’t willing to give up control of our future by taking on venture money and riding out the market’s adolescence.
So we surveyed the landscape for a new opportunity to use our marketing technology. And we saw it in dramatically expanding the reach, scope and relevance of behavioral data used to identify and engage with in-market B2B prospects.
Now, as True Influence celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, we’ve grown to be a consistently profitable international company with hundreds of employees. We are an established leader in B2B demand generation, and our vision for data-driven marketing is the catalyst for the creation of a hot new category in B2B martech, “Intent Monitoring”, where we also lead.
It’s been a good start.
The Big Picture on Buyer Behavior
Before I go on, a little more about the early days of True Influence and the journey that brought us to this milestone.
I met RK, who was working for Atlanta-based CDC Software at the time, over the internet, and after a few months of exploratory work we both decided to quit our day jobs and dedicate all our energies to the new company. In a couple years, we had built out a sophisticated platform for B2B email marketing. So, when market forces swung our way, we were in a great position to move into lead generation.
But we needed a differentiator. We saw the constraints so many publishing networks faced in meeting the growing demands of their B2B lead customers. Creating content is, candidly, very expensive, and even the best content networks are going to have limited audience reach in a space as enormous as the internet. It just doesn’t scale.
But what if we could base our market intelligence on decision-makers’ content consumption across the entire internet? This would give us deep insights into buying intent that, when coupled with our own advanced marketing tech, would connect us with the best prospects at the moment they are ready to talk.
We began by promoting publicly available content to gain insights on prospects’ interests and buying patterns. And we quickly began to compile all kinds of data — such as content reads and downloads — from numerous sources across the internet. (The volume of data we now consume has grown to 60 million pieces daily.)
Coupled with our dedication to verifying and delivering only the most accurate contact info, we quickly moved to the head of pack among high-quality B2B lead providers.
Relevance is the Difference
By 2011, our processes for gathering and analyzing online purchase intent signals had matured to the point that I wrote a business brief describing them and it was a big hit.
We dubbed our system the True Influence Relevance Engine™, and while it continues to evolve and improve, Relevance Engine remains the differentiator that sets apart our Intent Monitoring and demand generation offerings.
Relevance Engine organizes raw intent data around a taxonomy of about 4,000 topics that are essential to your customers. It maps this online research activity to companies and campus locations (our list of monitored domains now tops 2 million), then compares it to recent behavior to identity intent spikes. This near real-time intelligence lets you target prospects in the most active accounts, with content personalized to the topics that matter most to decision-makers.
You reach the right people, at the right time, with the right message. It’s a powerful value proposition for B2B marketers and sales teams everywhere.
A New Face with InsightBASE
By 2015, we were so confident in the results of Relevance Engine that we saw the potential in creating a customer-facing door to our powerful market intelligence tool. So, in early 2016 we launched InsightBASE®, our subscription-based Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform.
InsigthBASE customers have access to a wide range of reports and alerts that track intent spikes at their named accounts. They can also track market-wide interest in critical topics to identify companies and locations that might not otherwise be on the radar. This Intent Monitoring intelligence empowers marketers to develop on-point content strategies that lead to higher conversions.
InsightBASE’s intuitive UI also allows customers to define campaigns to deliver our TripleCHECK™ verified leads from active accounts directly into their sales or marketing automation systems. In addition to Intent activity, campaigns can be filtered by contact, firmographic and technographic criteria. Your team can connect with ideal prospects when their intent to purchase is at its peak.
We were proud of InsightBASE when we released it 2 ½ years ago, and we’re even more excited about the release of Version 2 of the platform just last month. We’ve improved the UI and added some key features, including industry-leading Dun and Bradstreet firmographic data.
It’s a powerful platform that will continue to put us at the lead of the B2B Intent Monitoring category. Which, as I mentioned earlier, we played a key role in helping create.
Intent Monitoring Gets Its Due
Last year, our leadership team sat down with Matt Senatore, ABM practice leader from SiriusDecisions, to explain exactly how Relevance Engine creates meaningful, actionable market intelligence from millions of raw intent data points.
SiriusDecisions is a key thought leader in B2B marketing, and we wanted to impress on them just how powerful purchase intent monitoring can be in optimizing every aspect of marketing and sales operations. We even called in one of our clients, Kay Kienast from GE Digital, to evangelize for us on exactly how much impact Intent had on her team. (Kay recently joined True Influence as our CMO.)
The result? SiriusDecisions designated Intent Monitoring as a category in its marketing technology stack analysis, and even cited it as a requirement in the Active Demand stage of its Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Demand Unit Waterfall. Other analysts have followed suit, and now we find ourselves in the lead of a category we helped create.
It’s a nice spot to be in.
10 Years of Growth
As we look back on our history, it’s important to note that while we’ve been developing new products and creating new markets, we’ve also been consistently profitable and growing as a company.
We now have 175 full-time employees and 100 to 200 full-time contractors. Our physical offices in Bangalore, India, are devoted to product R&D and professional services, while our sales and finance teams are spread across the U.S.
I never thought we’d reach this point in the company’s life, but we’ve grown so much that we need to get together occasionally for “water cooler talk.” So we recently moved much of our executive team near our offices in Princeton, N.J. And we’ve just opened a sales office in London. We recognized about 10 percent of revenue from international business last year; that number may reach 20 percent this year. Another important milestone in our growth.
We’re Just Getting Started
Where do we go in the next five or 10 years?
We’ve created a new category in Intent Monitoring, and now there’s a growing number of players all beating the same drum, pushing it into the mainstream of B2B martech. Just like marketing automation systems, which now have become part of the “plumbing” of B2B marketing, Intent Monitoring is gaining traction as a recognized essential for winning new business.
We’re not there yet, but I see it coming.
At the recent SiriusDecisions 2018 Summit, I was in the crowd of 2,500 or so as our customer Imprivata presented a detailed case study about how it completely revamped its marketing programs and won the Return on Integration (ROI) Award in the category of demand creation and lead management — the premier honor presented at the conference.
Amidst the complicated diagrams and workflows, a presenter took her laser pointer and highlighted Intent Monitoring. “This is essential to everything,” she said.
It was one of the proudest moments of my professional life.
I’d say we are at the end of the beginning, in terms of the market recognizing the power of Internet Monitoring. The analysts have embraced it. Customers are starting to understand its potential. Now we’re ready to move on the next stage, where Intent becomes part of that core plumbing.
This is where the cool stuff happens.