Interest data: what is it and why does it matter?

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Interesting. Photo by Paul Bence. Licensed for reuse (Flickr).
Interesting. Photo by Paul Bence. Licensed for reuse (Flickr).

When armed with the right prospect and customer data, a sales and marketing can be unstoppable.

The types of customer data which have typically been used in a B2B context include:

Contact data: These are elementary identifiers such as a full name, email and telephone number
Firmographic data: Information about the contact’s company such as the size, annual revenue and industry sector
Social data: What is the contact saying or sharing online across social networks
Purchase history data: A record of the contact’s past transactions and purchase patterns
Interaction history: A list of URLs visited and actions taken on your website, can also be in the form of a lead engagement score

Yet, despite having access to this information, according to CSO Insights, 42% of sales reps feel they do not have the right information before making a sales call and nearly half (45%) of companies report that their sales reps need help figuring out which accounts to prioritize.

Clearly, something is amiss.

Enter, interest data.

What is interest data?

Interest data’ is exactly what it sounds like: it is the interests of your prospect or customer – collected and stored in various ways (a unique profile or in a CRM database) for actionable use by marketing, sales and customer service teams.

Interests can legitimately be just about anything: people, places, organisations, concepts, products, events and so on. Right now, I am interested in “Marketing automation” (a concept), Salesforce (an organization) and idio for Salesforce (a product). You might be interested in Marc Benioff (a person) or Dreamforce 2015 (an event).

Your customers’ and prospects’ interests can be captured both explicitly and implicitly. Often brands survey their customer base to find out what makes them tick. The advent of social media means that the social graph of platforms such as Facebook can be used to gleans insights into what our most vociferous critics and advocates think and like doing.

Another more accurate way of capturing prospect and customer insights is to look at the content they are consuming. The content we consume as buyers is hugely indicative of our current needs and evolving interests. Think about it: the fact that you clicked on this article already tells us that you’re at least slightly interested in the topic of “interest data”.

Of course, one article alone isn’t enough to build an accurate picture of you, the reader, but if we were to track your reading arc around our site, very soon we could build up an increasingly accurate picture of which topics are interesting to you and use that to identify your current concerns and needs (say, “machine learning,” “B2B marketing,” “marketing automation”).
How can you accurately capture prospect and customer interests?

At idio, we use Content Intelligence to capture the interests of prospects and customers as they interact with all of the content across our various digital marketing channels (web, email, mobile and social).

Content Intelligence does this by automatically analyzing content to understand what it’s about and use that to capture the interests of the prospects and customers that consume each piece of content.

How can you use interest data?

Once this interest data is captured, how can it be used to power better marketing and sales?

Optimize content marketing: By understanding your audience’s interest as they engage with your content, you can identify the content topics that are driving the most engagement and which topics are not resonating with the audience at all. Therefore, you can optimize your editorial strategy to focus on the content topics which your audience finds most interesting.

Sales conversations: So, you’ve got a hot lead with an engagement score of a billion – so what? That score notifies you that they’re engaged, but it doesn’t tell you what they’re engaged about. Interest data helps you know what to talk about once you pick up the phone to a lead. Thereby improving the likelihood of a relevant and successful conversation.

Customer service conversations: Possessing customer interest data in a customer service context is an excellent way to prevent churn and mollify irate customers. How would customer service change in a retail bank if the reps knew that the caller had just become a first-time parent? Or, what if the agent was able to mollify an irate customer who had a product issue with tickets to see particular sports game because they knew the customer was an avid Boston Celtics fan?

None of these could be revealed by looking at purchase history logs or knowing the caller’s date of birth, but all of these would be revealed if brands were to understand the topics that each customer had been reading about recently – and therefore what their most current interests are.

Better segmentation: Formerly, you might segment your database around job titles or industries. Both of these are quite crude buckets within which to parse your database. No two Head of Digital is alike; they’re both humans with differing needs and interests. Segmenting by interest data (or, indeed, job role plus interest data) means you can make your marketing messaging extra relevant now that you know what content topic is going to be of most interest to that segment.

Jonny Rose
Idio makes buyer-centric marketing possible for global B2B enterprises. Idio’s Demand Orchestration platform uses Content Intelligence to predict the interests of every individual, and automatically deliver relevant 1:1 experiences across digital channels. Global leaders including Intel, Fitch Ratings, and AllianceBernstein trust Idio’s AI to maximize buyer engagement and pipeline, whilst automating marketing complexity.

1 COMMENT

  1. Interest data helps to create a better “big picture” of your customers. With multiple options for customers to choose from, and sales messaging for a plethora of different channels – you need to have information to make a direct connection with both your prospects and your current customers. Being able to track interest data helps marketing, sales, and customer service to craft more meaningful and engaging experiences with their customers/potential customers.

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