The year 2014 was supposed to be a fantastic year for Apple. The sun was shining, the birds chirping and the king of tech aesthetics was ready to launch some goodies at the Flint Center. Tim Cook did not disappoint. He unveiled the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch and the former went on to be the best selling Apple phones of all time.
Unfortunately, all that success was muted by the Cupertino based brand’s misguided forays in mass marketing. 2014 will forever be remembered as the year that Apple forced their fans to listen to a band of aging Irish rockers. In their bid to give U2’s new album Songs of Innocence to all their users, they without their user’s consent downloaded the content to all of their 500 million-plus devices.
A few people loved it but most people were mad at the cross-promotional stunt when U2 in poltergeist -like fashion appeared in their libraries. Worse is that the album deletion process inspired system hack articles online because it was incredibly hard.
Data Has Changed Marketing
The history of mass marketing is tempered by such gross miscalculations veiled behind buzzwords such as ‘creativity’. These trendy disruptions are not only annoying to the day’s customer but an astronomic waste of resources for the client as well. Ask John Wanamaker. This merchant, political figure, and religious leader, a pioneer in marketing a century ago stumbled upon the benefits of personalized marketing.
He famously said that half of his advertising budget went down the drain, the greatest disadvantage of untargeted marketing. Fortunately, unlike Wanamaker who admitted to the impossibility of measuring marketing ROI, today you have data on your side.
Customer personas have changed in the age of data, and they now crave more personalized experiences. Consequently, account-based marketing has become key to the marketing process as inbound marketing and demand generation take center place in the process.
The account based marketing (ABM) focus is on contact rather than lead level so it does turn the traditional funnel on its head. This marketing process does not begin with channels but rather with a target. Consequently, advertising budgets are more meaningfully spent on channels that are well-positioned to bring in most sales.
Data shows that 85% of marketers say that ABM brings in more ROI than other forms of marketing. This marketing strategy is however only efficient when coupled with accurate data and one of the most important data sets that can supercharge your ABM strategy is intent data.
Why ABM Needs Accurate Intent Data
Today, over 80% of all B2B businesses have ABM programs in place. The success of this strategy is nevertheless very dependent on the accuracy of data. Unfortunately, over 60% of all marketers say that they do not trust the overall health of their data.
If your data is not ensuring the prioritization of your ABM contacts, then buying group intent data can save the day. Intent data will reveal crucial information about your contact’s online behavior as buying groups have become the focus of B2B sales and marketing strategies.
These multifunctional buying groups make over 60% of the buying decisions in organizations. As a result, 90% of all B2B marketers say that they do recognize the benefits of ABM game plans when targeting buying groups. Intent monitoring can give marketers powerful insight into the purchase journey of their contacts and other revenue-generating marketing plans.
Buying group intent data will reveal your contact’s purchase journey, which at most times is completely different from their business’s collective journey to purchase decisions.
What Are Buying Groups?
In most organizations, a buying group will have an upward of six individuals, who play different roles in an organization’s purchase decisions. These individuals are a combination of procurement officers and operational managers who have budget authority. Each individual in a buying group has a role to play in decision-making and their intent signals will reflect this role.
The champion member will for instance display high levels of activity during the process while the influencer will exhibit a burst of intent at crucial purchase journey milestones. It is important to note that each individual does his or her purchase research independently. These patterns can be mapped to personas and understood via intent data. This insight can drive your prioritization of ABM accounts.
How Buying Group Intent Can Help Prioritize Your ABM Contacts
Assigning Buying Roles to Individuals In a Buying Group
Before any purchase is made, several individuals will research your catalog at a company. Without intent data, you cannot tell who amongst these potential leads has any input in the final purchase decisions. If you are going to prioritize every individual that shows intent activity, without a study of intent, you will become that marketer that annoyingly drowns everyone in Irish rock music.
Without an accurate buyer persona, you will rub the prospects in the wrong way with unsolicited marketing information. In a B2B group, intent data can highlight in-depth signals such as the tons of research made by the high-ranking decision-maker in the initial stages of the purchase journey.
Role dynamics insight is vital in account prioritization just as intent type is. When you have mapped your customer personas to their buying roles within a group, you will have the much-needed intelligence required to make personalized sales.
Understanding Buying Group Dynamics
The art of the sale has completely changed due to the rise of the internet. The availability of free data has altered the process of making purchase decisions and how salespeople conduct their sales pitches as well. The traditional salesperson had a direct influence on the prospect. Gifted salespeople like Johann Tetzel the famed seller of Catholic indulgences, for instance, made a killing by tapping on emotions of the customer.
Tetzel’s gift of gab would create an emotional connection with the customer, and they would, in turn, give him their life savings in the purchase past and future indulgences. He was so successful that he brought about the Reformation. Unlike the past when the salesperson was the custodian of all product information, today the buyer has all the power.
Your prospect can go online and gather data independently lessening your access and influence on their purchase decisions. According to Gartner, B2B buyers spend a small 17% of the buying group time meeting with potential suppliers during their customer journeys. 45% of their key buying activities revolve around independent online research.
Since research is, a primary activity of the buying group, intent data monitoring is essential in its identification and subsequent mapping to your ABM contacts. A spike in intent by some personas can signal an opportunity to connect with them or highlight key insights on a buying group’s dynamics.
Putting Buying Intent Into Context
When your buying group prospects become very engrossed in their purchase decision, their research language will begin to change. The terms and phrases used in the research journey can send signals about the potency of the purchase intent activity.
If you analyze intent data and compare all monitored keywords to buyer key phrases, you will have actionable insights into the buying journey. Besides, use this insight to tailor the contact’s customized buying journey.
Discovery of Buyer Stages
If you do not have fresh intent data at your fingertips you could make the mistake of sending sales signals too early when the group is only sending intent signals. Attempting to close a sale too soon is an awful sales practice and often comes off as pushy. Remember Newton’s third law, push hard and you will get as much resistance.
Worse is that you could also try to close the sale with the wrong person. In the early stages of research, the decision-maker has not analyzed all the research needed for a purchase decision. At the start of the group’s purchase journey, the decision maker’s intent signals will be general and broad. At the top of your funnel, they are trying to determine what the problem is that needs a solution.
If you monitor the prevailing unrefined terms used for research your response can lead your prospects to the middle of your sales funnel. You will note that the prospect’s language at this level undergoes a change and the activity resembles category language. Your messages at this point should give a solution to the prospect’s problem.
If this stage is well handled, the prospect will proceed to the bottom of your funnel, bringing the account closer to sales. The buyer group research at this level will include a lot of technical specifications and product features. You should bear it in mind that the group at this level has all the data they need on vendors, their products, and differentiating features. What they need from you is not classic nurturing but a sales outreach.
Buying group intent data brings in a lot of possibilities to the ABM strategy. It can help streamline communication with your ABM contacts with top-notch clarity and consistency. The signals can also connect each individual within a group to their customer journey stage enabling the personalization of marketing messages as per their behavior.
The success of ABM demands the delivery of content that resonates with an individual as per their role in a buying group. Use intent data to monitor and adjust your ABM strategy keeping it in mind that the buyer, not the seller has full control of the purchase journey. Meet them where they are with the content that they need and score a big one for your business.