We’re in the Golden Age of data-driven marketing. We have access to unprecedented volumes of data about customers and prospects, as well as powerful tools to analyze all that data, but that doesn’t mean we’re capturing all the information we need.
To learn more about how marketers can rethink the metrics they look at to understand buyers’ habits and needs, we spoke with Adam Hutchinson, senior marketing manager at Socedo, a software platform that helps B2B marketers connect with leads on social media.
What’s the biggest mistake you see marketers making in their approach to data collection and analysis?
There’s a trend right now to “get as much data as possible” on our leads and customers, which is a fantastic attitude to have, but it misses the point: We should be using data to identify and solve problems for our customers.
Rather than collecting as much data as we think we need to close the deal, let’s ask ourselves “Why aren’t my leads responding to my emails?” or better yet, “What email can I send my leads that will be valuable to them?” This will lead down a path of customer discovery, toward our audience’s interests, behaviors and priorities — and it may mean collecting data that we’re not used to, such as online behavioral data, account structure insights and qualitative feedback.
What is “intent-based” data? Why does it matter?
Intent data is the collection of activities that people take both online and offline that signal interest in a particular topic, offer or product, and ultimately signal a propensity to buy. For example, someone reading an article about cloud storage on Computerworld, following @cloudera on Twitter and downloading an industry report from Forrester would all be examples of intent data. Separately, each action gives a marketer or salesperson a reason to reach out and engage in the conversation. Together, all these actions add up to show someone who is considering a new cloud storage solution for their business.
Reaching a prospective buyer at the right time has always been the holy grail of marketing, and it’s becoming increasingly important. More people involved in buying decisions and tighter budgets means that the path to purchase is no longer linear. Instead, we as marketers and sales professionals have to anticipate needs and join an ongoing conversation.
Can you share an example or two of this approach in action?
One of my favorite examples comes from a sales development rep at DiscoverOrg. Josh spends five minutes researching his prospects before emailing them with one question in mind: What’s a specific issue this person cares about that I can reference? Josh does his research on LinkedIn and a quick Google search, but marketers can help the sales team by providing this data on the channels where they’re already engaged. For example, a sales lead may have retweeted your corporate handle, or shared one of your blog posts.
But even earlier in the funnel, you can use intent data to turn cold leads into engaged leads. Here at Socedo, we track a couple dozen keywords that our leads are talking about online — especially on Twitter, because it has a high frequency of actions. Whenever a lead uses a keyword, we trigger an email with the subject “Saw your Tweet about ___” and a link to one of our blog posts on the topic. These emails have about twice the click-through rate as our typical emails. This tactic can go beyond email marketing to website personalization, ad targeting and even direct mail campaigns.
What’s your advice for someone who wants to improve their understanding of their prospects and clients based on this approach to data?
Crawl, walk, run. There are literally thousands of behavioral signals online that you can track to give you a 360-degree view of your leads and customers. There’s no way you can consume all of that data in a meaningful way. Find your top objective — maybe it’s to generate more signups on your web page. Then use the behavioral data accessible to you to find what your website visitors care most about — maybe you find that 30 percent of them visit a certain blog post, or 12 percent are coming in on a single search keyword, or of the people who do sign up, 60 percent of them followed you on Twitter first.
Now align those insights about what your leads care about to your goal, and craft an experience that marries their needs with your offer. Software can help you, and you already have a lot at your fingertips. Your website CMS and Google Analytics together are a powerhouse. Marketing automation software is one step further. Intent data providers that sift through third-party data, like social media, can fill in the gaps.