Business to business buying has never been simple.
But as marketing and sales teams are charged with reaching buying committees of up to 10 people in different roles, they’re also faced with doing it during a pandemic.
If there’s ever been a time for new and strategic ways to drive pipeline, it’s now.
With people spending more time online than ever before, more than half of the content that influences B2B deals is consumed online.
Given the ongoing quest for attention, marketing won’t succeed with the old spray and pray routine.
Here are four things to start (and stop) to end 2020 on a high note.
Intent: What really matters—and what’s just fluff?
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding intent data as a key driver of success, but there’s also a lot of confusion around how best to apply it.
The truth is, intent data won’t close deals on its own. To wield it responsibly—and influence pipeline effectively—marketing teams need to:
Casting the widest net possible
Following every topic under the sun won’t drive meaningful results—and limiting your reach to one or two topics won’t either. Look for patterns and substantial indicators of interest in category topics.
Treating all intent data the same
If you treat basic intent-level data (e.g. someone searching for “B2B marketing” topics) like purchase intent, you’ll generate a lot of false positives and waste time on ineffective outreach.
Using intent data as a standalone signal for triggering outreach
Intent data alone can’t determine outreach. When it does, your efforts will shift and spread based on other people’s interests instead of focusing on good-fit deals.
Combining intent with other signals
Intent data should be one of many signals used to prioritize outreach.
You’ll also want to assess fit (based on an account’s firmographic, technographic, and geographic attributes) and engagement (based on whether the account visits your website and/or interacts with your marketing).
When combined, fit, engagement, and intent data form a powerful dataset (and collective account score) that can help to prioritize outreach.
Defining and acting on levels of intent
Setting tiers for intent will enable your team to respond appropriately to an account’s data-backed level of interest.
Someone who looks up “display advertising” isn’t the same as someone who searches for “ABM platform.” Your playbooks should reflect this difference.
At RollWorks, we generally group intent data into two tiers:
Tier 1: Branded search, competitor names, anything containing “ABM”
Tier 2: Category intent (e.g. B2B advertising; display advertising, cross-channel advertising)
We still care about tier 2 because there’s some level of interest, but it’s not enough to merit immediate sales outreach.
Instead, run high-impact, low-effort campaigns to nurture those interested in low-intent topics and save one-off campaigns for high-intent topics.
Aligning ad creative with audiences
Intent isn’t just a signal of interest, it’s a call to respond with ads and creative that satisfy the information needs of your audience.
Before reaching out or launching a campaign, ask whether the content you’re serving resonates and aligns with the topics your audience cares about.
As you gain a better understanding of what those things are, you can segment accounts by high-intent topic clusters, customize ads and messaging for intent-topic based on sub-segments, and use targeted ads to reach people with relevant messaging.
The more granular you get with your audiences and data, the more effective your messaging will be.
Personalization: What your audience actually wants, not what you think they want
Most marketers get personalization all wrong. We treat it like a checklist rather than a conscious decision around what and who we’re serving.
To drive meaningful results, personalization efforts must move beyond basic merge fields and instead, involve the deliberate decision to create unique and custom experiences.
Assuming tokens are a one-way ticket to success
It’s no longer impressive that an email or landing page can dynamically display our name or company. It’s still a nice touch, but it’s not enough to move the needle with today’s sophisticated buyer.
Only using tokens in email or landing pages
You shouldn’t stop using tokens in email and landing pages, but you should strive to include personalization across channels, including display ads and paid search.
Basing it on audience and persona-based segmentation
Many factors carry more weight than prospect-level information like first name or name of company.
With persona-based personalization, marketers can target the entire buying committee with equal effectiveness by crafting specific messages for each persona.
If you can target the CMO with messaging that matters to them (“impact revenue”), and also target the digital marketer by speaking to their needs (“increase website engagement”), you’re in a much better position to earn the attention of both.
Tailor your ad creative with audience and persona-based segmentation—even when you’re targeting different members of the same account.
ABM-ifying it with firmographic, technographic, and intent info
Personalization works best when marketers use the right data to inform their approach.
Knowing your prospects’ industries and pain points will enable you to solve their problems and address their challenges, not just know their name.
If you’re keeping track of the content a specific audience consumes, for example, you might offer that audience an ebook that dives deeper into that topic.
Applying an ABM approach to personalization means showing specific segments you know what they care about, not throwing first names on things because they clicked one of your links.
Scalability: Not every touch needs to feel like a million bucks
Small marketing teams (and teams with small budgets) sometimes make the mistake of believing that more money or resources would solve everything.
We won’t discount the positive impact a large team or budget can provide, but we can confirm that the right approach—including knowing how to allocate your budget—can make all the difference.
To increase the scalability of a team and its programs, marketers need to validate where it makes sense to invest and automate the rest.
Thinking you need large budgets or headcount
There’s a lot of hype about elaborate sales and marketing plays that choreograph emails, gift cards, and up until recently, expensive dinners.
But not every account merits this level of fanfare. The hallmark of effective and hyper-focused programs isn’t in “wining and dining” every account—it’s in knowing which accounts deserve the extra effort and which don’t.
Assuming you have to treat every person within your TAM, ICP, or TAL equally
Wooing every prospect is unsustainable, even for large marketing teams. If you haven’t fully moved to a target account list, know that you don’t have to treat all accounts the same. Some will deserve higher-cost touches and others won’t.
Using account scoring
Account scoring combines several datasets to rank the likelihood that an account will close. Use it to split your list of prospects into high versus low priority and in turn, make better budget decisions. Your high priority accounts are the ones to treat with extra care.
Running low-hanging fruit campaigns
Lower-tier accounts may not deserve VIP treatment, but you don’t want your brand to fall completely off their radar either.
As you move down your TAL, consider a few “always-on” digital advertising campaigns to reel low-tier prospects in, assess their level of interest, and move them further along the funnel.
To prioritize within your lower-tier accounts, layer things like intent data on top of your digital advertising efforts. If someone’s a high fit for your product, shows intent, and starts engaging, those are the accounts to prioritize.
Offers: Which ones are a match and which should you swipe left?
Much like intent data and personalization, scalability and offers are two peas in a pod.
As you scale up content and digital advertising, you’ll need to figure out which offers matter to an audience and what channels work best for each offer type.
With a limited budget, you can’t spend unlimited money serving LinkedIn ads to your entire TAM every time your team produces a new piece of content.
As marketers, we need to create content based on specific channels and what we want to achieve on those channels.
Spraying and praying your entire database
Many marketers create assets with the intent to share them with their entire database, but sending every marketing offer is a surefire way to drive unsubscribes.
Making content one-size-fits-all
Whether it’s a webinar or an epic ebook, not every asset will be relevant or appropriate for everyone. Your team doesn’t need to create net new content for every segment, but considering the needs of that audience before sharing it is always the better choice.
Using the same KPIs for all offers
A blog post about a new partnership is significantly different from an ROI calculator that an SDR might send to a prospect they’re in talks with. Make sure you’re evaluating different offers based on realistic and appropriate outcomes.
Segmenting offers by tactic, channel, and sales stage
The majority of accounts you’d like to reach have no idea your brand exists. Instead of presuming otherwise, use segmentation to send targeted offers based on factors like sales stage, intent, and engagement.
For unaware prospects, offers should be low-investment plays at driving brand awareness to a large audience
For category aware prospects, offers can include things like content downloads, form-fills, and retargeting, but expect significantly less volume and higher quality outcomes.
Using tiers to define levels of investment and program entitlements
Account scoring and account tiering aren’t necessarily the same.
Scoring will help determine whether an account is worth program entitlements while tiering helps define what those entitlements are.
As you refine your approach, you’ll understand that a tier 1 account should receive direct mail, while tiers 3 and 4 won’t unless they meet certain criteria or take a specific action, like requesting a demo.
As you scale this approach, both marketing and sales should form a common understanding of what defines each tier and respond accordingly.
The right tools can help with segmentation, but ultimately, driving scalability means choosing to create custom VIP experiences for the high-fit accounts most likely to close.
Playing to trends in the market with content offers
This year especially, many marketers found themselves in an unfortunate predicament.
After working for weeks (or in some cases, months) to launch an ebook or event, their offers became less relevant (or in some cases, obsolete) given the global lockdown.
Instead of pretending these changes haven’t impacted your prospects—or pouring the bulk of your marketing efforts into creating assets about your product—play to market trends.
If you can empathize with your prospects’ evolving pain points and fill gaps for them with meaningful, relevant content, you can establish topical authority and remain top of mind.
By definition, your evergreen assets are safe on the backburner.