Growing usage of intent data is proof that marketers are excited about its promise: to illuminate who is actively in the market for a solution, and the topics in which they are likely interested. But the downside is that, if not used correctly, intent data will fail to deliver results.
To help you avoid pitfalls and make the most of intent data, here are three common mistakes that you can avoid with upfront planning.
Intent data is not magical. Its potential is exciting, but it won’t fill in all of your marketing gaps. Many marketers see the possibilities that intent data brings, and assume that the technology will do their work for them. But as with any other marketing tech innovation, we know that they don’t work unless we do.
Intent data won’t miraculously fix all issues in your marketing and sales process. But it is valuable. What it can do is improve business outcomes by creating greater efficiency in your funnel.
For example, as you get more sophisticated in working with – and responding to – intent data, you can likely improve your cost per lead by truly delivering the right message, at the right time to the right people.
Which brings me to mistake number two…
Engaging with an intent data provider and then getting access to the data is only the first step. After that, you have to know what to do with it. I don’t mean this abstractly either, like you generally know that your sales team should call any leads who have researched your competitors in the last ten days. I mean specifics.
First, as you are considering intent data providers, make sure to ask a lot of questions about how they deliver the data and where it can seamlessly integrate into martech platforms you already have in place.
You must find the right provider that will deliver data in a way that makes sense to you (different vendors have different delivery methods, reporting, etc. so you should get demos and shop around before committing).
Secondly, your marketing team must have its people and processes in place before you can really do anything effective.
This means defining exactly how you expect people in your organization to use the data to deliver relevant messaging, and identify when to prioritize a prospect or account based on their surging research activity.
If you can’t explain to your revenue operations teams exactly where they should expect to find the data, and what to do with it, that’s where you should start.
Third, you must be incredibly specific about how you set up your platform, including your focused keywords and how you configure your ideal audiences. If you have an account-based strategy, this would start by defining the accounts whose activity you want to track.
You must also be specific about the topics you want to monitor and understand in detail how they relate to your solution and buyer journey. Then, you can effectively build triggers for sales and marketing activity based on intent.
Once you’ve finished this groundwork, the next step is to clearly map out who in your organization will do what (again, specifics!) with the insights you gather, and in what timing. Ideally, document these expected actions and processes in a playbook so you can ensure every member of the team understands their expected use of intent data.
Whether you are using intent data sources or not, you must understand your buyers and their journeys. There is no shortcut here.
Knowing the stages of the buyer journey helps you effectively understand the context of the intent data, and then develop the whole picture together of how to interact with those buyers. It empowers you to steer the right messages to the leads you receive at the right time for maximum impact.
If you’ve done the customer research to define buyer personas and have mapped your buyer journey well, you will know the common actions different types of prospects take as they seek out a solution.
You can anticipate the topics they’ll research, and can create a few messaging variations based on the different entry points into the buyer journey. Marketing can then trigger campaigns with messaging that is aligned to buyers’ areas of interest, and sales can frame their conversations with the same lens.
Intent data can only fulfill its promise when paired with a strong framework that makes it actionable. Before jumping into the purchase of data or a new tool, it’s important to set the groundwork for success by doing fundamental buyer research, defining processes, and defining relevant messaging and talking points that will resonate with prospects.
Only when you have all of these plus the data itself will you realize the true value of intent data — as one highly relevant and powerful input into a successful revenue growth machine.
The leader of LeadMD’s Go-to-Market practice, Kirsten Markson is an experienced leader with over a decade building and managing marketing and consulting teams. She started her career in market research and is passionate about uncovering insights that lead to strategies that speak directly to buyer hearts and minds. In her role, she develops methods to deeply understand the buyer journey, and execute campaigns to fuel growth and customer loyalty.
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