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Using intent data to deliver results in 2021
Intent signals bring precision to today’s B2B marketing strategy.
The following article is based on a conversation between Colby Cavanaugh, VP Business Development & Alliances, Integrate and Kate Athmer, VP of Growth, Bombora.
Hope is on the horizon that 2021 will be a substantial improvement over 2020 in nearly all aspects of business and everyday life, including the world of B2B marketing.
Last year, the pandemic forced a digital awakening for B2B marketing as tried-and-true tactics like in-person events and conferences were eliminated seemingly overnight. This shift altered the B2B landscape significantly and, perhaps, permanently, as we’ve all been forced to adapt, evolve and grow in a new world.
Today more than ever, interactions are digital. Buyers are doing their research on their own time, at their own pace, and all online. And, no doubt, Zoom fatigue is real – in fact, the last thing anyone wants to do is to schedule another Zoom call with a vendor. Meanwhile, on the vendor side, staying top of mind is harder. This tension has dramatically altered the process of connecting businesses with buyers.
Faced with these new realities and ever-tightening budgets, many marketers are turning to a buyer-driven B2B marketing approach called Precision Demand Marketing (PDM). Using digital signals from
buyer behaviors, and with solutions like intent data provider Bombora brings us, marketers can tailor the buying experience to meet the changing needs of their prospects to get the results they need.
The right data. The right buyer. At the right time.
By incorporating digital signals, like intent data within PDM, marketers can learn specific buyer pain points and precisely target buyers as they research possible purchases. To do so, it’s important to get in front of prospects early––as they’re entering the market. After all, according to Bombora’s Company Surge® reporting, only 15% of buyers are in the market for your solution at any given time. Intent data provides insight into your prospect’s interests, so you can determine how and when you engage. Intent data, such as Company Surge® scores, provided by Bombora, identify which businesses are actively researching your product and services more than usual, signaling when and what they want to hear from you. It can be a powerful tool that offers clarity, focus, and precision to your B2B marketing efforts, but it’s also important to use intent data in the right way.
People are often not clear on where to start, so they stall out on their precision marketing efforts because there are just too many choices, too many things on the menu. We recommend starting with intent data to prioritize your target accounts. This helps you be more focused and efficient with your budget and resources in channels like content syndication. Pull a list of your target accounts, figure out which of them are showing intent and then generate leads only at those target accounts, with content syndication. Then you can prioritize incoming leads based on the level of intent, and then route them to nurture programs based on the topics they are researching – or straight to your business development representatives (BDRs) if their level of intent is high enough!
Just remember, when using intent data at the beginning of the process, you’ll need to watch the time that passes between the scoring and your follow-up outreach. It’s a dynamic market (especially in these times) and Company Surge® scores can change weekly.
Prioritize your targets
Target account lists can and should come from many sources – whether you’re expanding your current customer base, entering a new market, or looking at expanding into new verticals or geographies, having a focused list of target accounts is important in driving your strategy. Use intent data to prioritize your target account list and understand which buying groups might be in the market for your solution.
Remember, there’s no more marketing funnel/marketing process, sales funnel/sales process; there’s only one process: the buyer’s process. Making the buying experience a great experience by engaging with your buyers early in their research and discovery phases and providing them with content that maps to their research and pain points is a critical piece of getting off on the right foot.
Discover the value of third-party data
Marketers have long benefited from first-party intent data in marketing automation systems. Today, third-party intent at the account level is also invaluable, especially in terms of inbound leads and website traffic when first-party intent isn’t available.
First-party can provide powerful signals, but often prospects are well into their buyer journey by that time. First-party intent shows us when buyers have been on your website and maybe if they downloaded a white paper. With third-party intent data, you can measure intent in places where marketers are doing their initial research on third-party websites.
Third-party helps you catch people earlier in the process when they’re just researching ideas or challenges before they get to the point where they’re researching vendors. Reaching buyers before they zero in on specific providers is critical, of course. By doing so, you can help ensure you’re on the short list of brands they are considering.
Acquire contact data in a compliant way
While it’s important to understand which accounts might be receptive to your message – eventually you’ll need to reach prospective buyers and get opt them in.
Integrate helps you do just that. It helps you take your best content and leverage it to go where buyers are doing their primary research and opt them into your communication channels. It also helps you ensure compliance with privacy policies and provides the capability to ensure your data is complete and marketable.
It’s important that you apply intent wisely, not only for better engagement but also to ensure positive impact across other marketing efforts or channels.
Honor the buyer-seller relationship and improve outcomes
As a marketer, your mission is to help people get the information they need at the time they need it, and then promote your message as you go. Marketers should use intent data to inform content development, particularly as they determine the topics of interest to early-stage pipeline prospects.
Using a solution like Bombora’s Company Surge® reporting to track changing levels of intent is the key to keep interactions relevant versus using a one-time Company Surge® report to power evergreen campaigns for months or even the year. B2B marketers who run always-on Company Surge® reporting can target a significant number of accounts they would otherwise have missed with traditional content syndication. Those with multiple offerings can target appropriate content based on specific intent signals rather than a general message encompassing all products and topics. For instance, marketers can proactively leverage Company Surge® activity to understand if buyers are shopping competitive solutions and then they can develop content and run campaigns to combat losing the account.
While the marketer may be the same, buying groups and journeys are different. This allows a company to meet buyers where they are, with tailored content and topics. They’re actually engaging existing customers and prospects specific to a product and then nurturing them that way.
The road forward is paved with intent
As marketers use intent data, they can measure positive impact through to revenue. You can begin by focusing on lead scoring. Use Company Surge® topics to identify audiences. Leverage scores as a means of prioritization in marketing automation and leverage Company Surge® topics to tailor the buyer experience.
You’ll find intent data provides the opportunity to improve buyer interactions across a multitude of channels. It also allows for optimization, thanks to improved targeting capabilities and conversion. It brings precision to your marketing. And that should serve you well throughout 2021 and beyond.