Let's imagine for a moment you are an archeologist, and you’ve stumbled upon a massive chest of buried treasure. Inside this chest are hundreds of artifacts - all of them potentially valuable but can only bring back a handful of pieces. Which ones do you take?
This is the problem many B2B marketers face every day. Running a true account-based marketing program means creating personalized outreach specific to your target audience, so by design, you cannot target everyone. You must be selective when it comes to which companies, industries, etc., you pursue to create truly effective messaging that resonates with your audience. So in this article, we’ll discuss how to find your engaged audience, how to prioritize them, and build an intent-based marketing campaign to focus your efforts on high-value accounts that are more likely to purchase.
Identifying engaged accounts
If you’ve run an account-based marketing (ABM) campaign before, you’re likely no stranger to building an ideal customer profile (ICP) for your campaign (if not, check out our guide to building an ICP). This is a prototypical company that represents your perfect customer, the one that will gain the most value out of your products and provide the most revenue to you in return.
You probably have an idea of what your ideal customer looks like – what size company, what industry, revenue range, etc. However, integrating intent data into our targeting strategy will allow you to sanity-check your ICP against your real engaged audience and also show you potential new untapped markets you should be targeting.
What is intent data?
Intent data is defined as information about your audience that indicates an elevated interest in your product or service (i.e., increased intent to purchase). For the purposes of building your target account list and checking your ICP, the most reliable and easily accessible source of intent data is your website. Adding an intent data solution to your tech stack will allow you to see the exact companies visiting, engaging, and showing buying intent on your website. Looking at these engagement patterns of your website visitors will give you insight into what content, topics, products, etc., are resonating with your target audience.
Prioritizing your most interested accounts
Once you’re up and running collecting intent data across your website, you’ll need to start prioritizing the warmest and most engaged leads to build your sales and multi-channel marketing campaigns. There are three steps in this process:
1. Define all first-party intent signals
Sales and marketing teams should collaborate to create a list of possible signals or events that indicate an in-market account (a company that is showing signs they are looking to purchase a solution like yours). These could include things like:
Number of page views
Gated content downloads
Hot page views (pricing page, case studies, etc.)
Free trial sign up
2. Assign all intent signals a value
Think of this as a point system that will determine which accounts are showing sufficient interest to engage with them. Unfortunately, I can't tell you exactly how to value each intent signal as your company has its own unique goals and strategies. However, we can look at multi-touch attribution for inspiration about weighting each intent signal.
Multi-touch attribution models look at historical sales and marketing data to weight each touchpoint based on which ones a prospect engaged with in the buying process. Did they fill out a form? Attend a webinar? We can extend this principle to our scoring process by placing a higher value on touchpoints that generally indicate increased interest. This is what a sample designations for points might look like:
Standard page view – 5 points
Hot page view – 10 points
Gated content download – 50 points
Contact form fill – 200 points
Free trial sign up – 200 points
3. Set an SQL and MQL threshold
Set a total number of intent signals or "points" an account must accumulate to become a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) or a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). This will prevent you from spending valuable time and resources reaching out to accounts that may have stumbled on your page by accident and instead, focusing on those that are actually interested.
One word of caution is that MQLs and SQLs are different, and just because an account has shown interest doesn't mean they're necessarily ready to hop on the phone with a sales rep. Thus, the threshold for placing an account into the sales process should be much higher than putting them into a marketing campaign. For example, the threshold for a website visitor to enter a marketing campaign might be 50 points, while the threshold to warrant a sales action might be 200 points.
Continuing with our intent signal values from step 2, you can see that it would take a visitor 10 standard page views, 5 hot page views, or one gated content download to become designated an MQL. Alternatively while it would only take one contact form fill or free trial sign up to become an SQL and receive a follow up from a salesperson.
Building a coordinated intent-based ABM machine
Ok, so now you’ve built your list of highly engaged accounts, now comes the fun part – actually marketing to them! This is where the rubber meets the road and you start to see the real difference intent data can make in your campaigns. Here are just a few of the strategies you can quickly scale to any ABM campaign to reach more high-value target accounts with messages that resonate.
Tailored marketing or sales outreach based on interest
One of the main ideas behind ABM is creating tailored messages specific to your target audience. Intent data allows you to take the next step in this process by allowing you to create sales and marketing outreach based on the specific products your target accounts have already shown interest in.
In the world of ABM, e-gifting and swag sending are nothing new. They are a great way to create engagement with key stakeholders within your high-value target accounts and show a more fun side of your brand. However, swag sending comes at a cost. In order to see a high return on investment, it’s important to be strategic with which companies you send to.
Instead of blindly sending to hundreds of accounts that have never heard of your company, it is much more effective to send fewer higher-quality goods to a more targeted list of companies that have shown buying intent. Sending platforms like Sendoso allow you to integrate intent data into your sends to enable things like:
- Set up intent-based auto-sends once accounts hit your lead score
- Send different items for sales and marketing
- Send smaller or larger gifts to your accounts based on sales stag
Dynamic retargeting B2B Advertising
Regardless of how good your website is, undoubtedly, not all of your website visitors will immediately convert into viable leads. Retargeting ads are one of the most effective ways to recapture visitors that have visited your website and left without filling out a contact form. However, running a retargeting campaign can quickly become expensive if you’re not careful. By integrating intent data into your Google Ads platform, you’ll be able to run a dynamic retargeting ad campaign, which will allow you to adjust your ad bids for high-value target accounts. This will ensure you’re only showing your ads to interested companies that are more likely to reconvert.
We have the ability to provide more accurate first-party intent data. This helps B2B marketers prioritize accounts based on their stage in the buying cycle. “RollWorks is excited to expand our data capabilities through our partnership with KickFire,” said Mike Stocker, VP of Partnerships at RollWorks. “We are committed to helping go-to-market teams with their ABM efforts to grow their revenue, and comprehensive and accurate data is a critical part of providing a leading solution.”
Account-based marketing is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean it won’t change over time. As marketers we have to constantly push to stand out from the crowd and drive interest for our products. Integrating intent data throughout the ABM lifecycle will allow you to run more optimized, personalized, and effective campaigns and bring your team into the next generation of marketing.
Ready to take the next step? Download our ebook to learn the ins and outs of intent data from beginner to expert!
About the AuthorMore Content by Andy Golden