Most lead generation rock stars have their own secrets when it comes to the development and execution of lead generation campaigns. Whether it be the use of predictive analytics, big data, use case studies, creative persona development or voodoo, almost everyone has a recipe for the perfect campaign cocktail. In fact, the internet is full of recipes, tips and tricks, methodologies and “how to” guides on what it takes to make your leads sing and your pipelines hum.
Big Data, and Predictive Analytics and Intent Data, Oh My
Doesn’t it seem that every few years, there seems to be a new marketing “flavor of the month” that will demystify the lead generating business? Big data turned out to be, well, big. Data warehouses were and are stuffed to the gills with internal and external contacts that come in every size and shape imaginable. Predictive analytics promised that the innovative marketer would be able to “guess” which leads would be most valuable in filling even the most ambitious sales funnel.
The cynical among us may be tempted to ask, “Is intent data a marketing fad?” Actually, that’s a very smart question to ask. What makes intent data different? Marketers are always looking for ways to make data more scalable and actionable in order to better target prospects at various stages of the buyer’s journey. In a nutshell, that’s exactly what the promise of intent data delivers.
Quite simply, intent data hones in on the signals that indicate a person is in the market for your particular product or service. It provides targeting for users who have demonstrated intent through product searches, website visits, and white paper downloads, etc. Intent data is the workhorse of the lead generation world.
Intent data can help improve engagement across a multitude of use cases, including account-based marketing (ABM) ad targeting, lead generation activities, lead scoring, and sales and account management. Is there an intent data guarantee? No, but let’s explore how intent data can help increase the bottom line.
10 Commandments for Intent-Infused Lead Generation Campaigns
1. Know the prospect. Develop personas for intent-based marketing. Begin by developing buyer personas. Get input from major stakeholders on both the sales and marketing sides of the company. When conducting research, make sure you answer the following questions:
• What issues does your target prospect care about?
• What are the hot topics in their respective industries?
• What keywords do they use when they search for solutions in your industry?
• What events does your target prospect attend?
• What industry publications do they read? And trust?
• Who are the influencers your target prospect turns to for educational purposes?
• Who and what are your top competitors?
• If you are marketing to other businesses, what solutions are in their technology stack? Do they use products that are complementary to your products?
2. Understand the marketing metrics. Metrics may vary to reflect business priorities, but robust measurement will identify the specifics, such as:
• Lead conversion rates
• Sales cycle timing (time from initial contact to deal close)
• ROI of lead generation spend
• Progress in expanding your brand or product footprint within key accounts
• Development of account-based marketing (ABM) programs.
3. Know the customer. Maximize revenues by understanding very specific customer criteria, including:
• Most and least profitable customers by industry, geography, product line or other variable that’s critical to campaigns
• Length of the sales cycle
• Best upsell/cross-sell opportunities
• Best time to capture additional revenue from existing customers
• Outcomes of specific customer engagements as an indicator of future initiatives
4. Know the platforms. Based on your lead generation needs, you may require a host of systems, including marketing automation platforms, CRM systems, business intelligence dashboards, and demand generation automation tools – all of which must be compatible with your mar-tech stack.
5. Honor thy content marketing strategy. A good content marketing strategy requires a degree of diversity and experimentation to understand where the biggest growth opportunities are for your business. Experiment with the common and uncommon tactics, i.e. microsites, blogging, research reports, infographics, videos, email campaigns, and corresponding email assets. The important thing is to test, test, and test what does and doesn’t work so that you can gradually refine your lead generation practices over time.
6. B2B Marketers own the top of the funnel. There is a heated debate about whether sales or marketing owns the funnel. In today’s marketplace, marketing, as well as sales, are responsible for their specific sales number. No longer is the sales team the sole proprietor of this most important criteria. In actuality, both sales and marketing work to nurture leads and prospects from awareness to purchase.
7. Sales Reps should follow up quickly with prospects. Fast response times can increase the odds of turning the prospect into a customer exponentially. Sales reps should immediately email the prospect with content designed to advance the conversation forward. Make sure the content is “mapped” in context with the prospect’s persona, industry and stage of the buying cycle. Then follow up with a phone call as quickly as possible.
8. Avoid the hard sales sell, and instead focus on solving problems. Marketers should work with sales to avoid a hard sales pitch about products. The most effective way to open up the conversation after the initial introduction is to explain why you are calling and how you may help the prospect solve their problem.
9. Don’t hand off leads to the sales team right away. Instead, first make sure they are properly scored. Define lead stages and be crystal clear on the definitions. Terms like “raw lead,” “prospect,” “MQL,” “SQL,” and “SAL” don’t mean anything unless everyone understands the criteria. For example, what exactly is an “opportunity” – 80% closed? BANT qualified? Had a demo?
10. Be relentless in developing reporting to gauge success and refine programs. Look at metrics like conversion to opportunity or sales accepted lead. Are your scoring assumptions working? Where do you need to make changes? One recommendation is to adjust the lead score about once a quarter, until you feel you have it right.
Whether it be behavioral, internal or external, intent data is designed to identify the prospects who are interested in your product or service right now. Think of it as a prospect Geiger counter, or a heat-seeking missile on a journey to deliver the right message at the right time to the right prospect. Pair intent data with other prospect signals, like those housed within a company’s marketing automation system, for example, and you have the foundation of truly understanding and leveraging “real” customer insights versus predictive wannabe’s.