Better ABM from Better Data: Using Data to Develop Your Target Account Profile

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series from TechTarget and HG Data on how to drive better Account-Based Marketing ROI from Technographics and Real Purchase Intent. Please see Part 2 on Building Propensity to Buy Models and Part 3 on Developing Micromessaging for More Effective Marketing as well.

abm target profile

According to the most recent State of Pipeline Marketing report, more than 60 percent of B2B marketers are doing “some form of account-based marketing.” And last year’s SiriusDecisions State of Account-Based Marketing Study found that marketers using ABM reported 19 percent greater revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability.  From our own work with clients on ABM, it’s very clear that success (and failure) with ABM begins right at the very beginning – by starting from a well-conceived and enabled Target Account Profile.  If you don’t choose the right accounts to go after, it will be very hard to achieve the kind of ROI you need to sustain internal support for your ABM program.

If you plan to invest more Sales and Marketing effort in a particular set of accounts, you’d be wise to make sure you really understand your targets and then build your tactics based on this understanding.  You might be surprised at how many companies kick off their ABM effort with insufficient attention paid to this simple logic.  That’s why in Part 1 of this blog series, we’ll focus in on how you can make sure to begin from a position of strength – by doing the best possible job of selecting the right prospects that you possibly can.

Start by working closely with Sales, then expand

There are a number of different factors that go into building out an ideal target account profile. When determining which accounts to go after with ABM, you’ll of course want to work with your Sales colleagues directly.  However, if you’re relying only on your sales reps to identify high-value accounts, you’re probably missing a great deal of opportunity as many ideal customers may not even be in your sales funnel yet. You’ll also want to leverage all of your company’s 1st party data on what has been successful historically.  But while historical success can yield a lot of useful information about the companies where you have already done well, there’s a limit to how much it can tell you about where new opportunity actually lies.  If you’re looking to grow outside of existing top accounts, you’re likely to need additional information to give you a leg up.

To build an ABM program that supports growth in accounts where you have very little history, it is essential to turn to reputable sources of proprietary 3rd-party information. SiriusDecisions recently-released “Demand Unit Waterfall” makes this concept abundantly clear by pointing out two critical ideas.  First is the importance of a well-defined market – they call this “Target Demand”.  If you pick targets for ABM that are not a good match for your company’s strengths, no amount of ABM effort is likely to achieve what you seek.  Second is the power of actual buyer’s journey activity for focusing your ABM energy — they call it taking advantage of “Active Demand”.   The fact is, that if you can’t tell which accounts within your ABM list deserve more attention right now, you’ll end up spending too much effort on many that won’t respond at all, and too little on the few who really should.

Strengthen your data foundation:  3rd Party Demographics and Firmographics

To use ABM as a growth engine, the minimum 3rd party data you’ll want is demographic and firmographic. Demographic data tells you about the people you seek inside the accounts you’ll decide to go after.  It can include information such as a contact name, work title, work history, social connections and more. Firmographic data tells you about the companies as a whole, including information on company size, employee count, revenue, market vertical, location, and more.

In the old days, this is where you might have stopped.  But in today’s super competitive environment, to really make progress fast, you’re going to want to do better.

New data sources that will change the way you approach ABM

To deliver the kind of performance that ABM leaders achieve, you should seek out two of the newer forms of insight that can make all the difference.  Good technographics, data on what technologies are already installed within a particular prospect account, can make or break whether you can accurately target opportunity inside prospect companies at all.  Purchase intent information, insight gained from relevant content consumption patterns, can then highlight which of your appropriate targets is actually engaged in a buyer’s journey in your solution area at this very moment.  Bringing these two information types into your ABM program early sets you up to quickly attain the kinds of ROI necessary to sustain and evolve your program over time.

More about 3rd Party Technographics

By definition, technographics provide information on existing technology installed within a prospect company.  Depending on the source, it may include related insights such as when a particular technology might have been purchased, how long it’s been in use, or where exactly it is being used within the firm, be it enterprise wide, as a centralized service, in one department or by many different departments or divisions.  Of course, the more user groups you can identify, the more use cases there are in action, the more potential “demand units” (as SiriusDecisions calls them) there could be for you.

You can use technographics strategically to help determine your total addressable market. For example, by using advanced data science to curate its library of more than 2 billion unstructured documents, HG Data can identify all the companies in the market place using products that compete with or complement your own offerings. From there you can easily make a reasonable calculation of total market potential. HG Data provides the tools that allow you to quickly identify prospect accounts or enrich your understanding of potential or ability to segment existing accounts within your CRM.  And since HG Data technographics are continuously updated, you can use them to find net new accounts that match your target account profile.

More on 3rd Party Intent Data

Intent data is behavioral information about prospects that indicates an impending purchase. It is present in both internal systems – websites, marketing automation systems, CRM – and in external interaction channels.  While there are different sources for this type of information, the best is collected from interactions with content that is closely related to your particular solution and that has been designed to uncover stages in the buyer’s journey.

To capture real purchase intent, TechTarget maintains a network of 140+ websites focused exclusively on enterprise technology content that they create.  More than 18 million enterprise technology buyers subscribe to this content and interact with it more than a million times each business day as they research their purchases.  TechTarget monitors these behaviors, analyzes them, and makes them available via their Priority Engine purchase intent insight portal.  Priority Engine provides direct access to extraordinarily rich buyer purchase intent information in your market.  You can see exactly who is active at the account and individual level, what content they’re consuming, the scale and intensity of their interest, the competitors they’re looking at, and more.

And because TechTarget now partners with HG Data, when you subscribe to Priority Engine, you can also see what technology your prospects are using within the interface.  So in one place, you can combine what you need to know about a prospect’s tech install with the behavioral guidance you need to drive how aggressive to get and what approaches to use at any given time.

Additionally, you can feed Priority Engine data and insights directly into your marketing automation and CRM on a weekly basis to fuel dozens of different plays – use cases – related to your ABM approach.

Summing up

By combining new forms of data in support of ABM – specifically HG Data’s technographic and TechTarget’s purchase intent — marketers are now better able to understand solution fit and readiness to buy.  Because this information brings a whole new level of clarity about who to target right now (target account profile), more and more clients are using it at the outset of their ABM journey to more quickly realize the kind of ROI they require. These new types of 3rd party data enable Marketers to become far more focused on the right accounts to go after.  Greater knowledge reduces targeting waste and enables much better messaging specificity and enable a new level of collaboration between Marketing and Sales.  They can now both focus on the accounts that matter and learn faster how to partner successfully on executing the right plays, be it a Marketing action, a Sales action or a combination of both.

In the next blog post, we’ll look more closely at Sales and Marketing partnership.  Specifically, we’ll show how Marketing can use technographics and purchase intent in combination to develop a propensity-to-buy model that will be directly applicable – and directly valuable — to your Inside and Field Sales efforts.

3rd party data, ABM, ABM performance, Account-Based Marketing, b2b purchase intent data, HG Data, technographics, TechTarget

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