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Introduction

Marketing budgets in 2020 took a hit. Looking ahead, many CMOs are reporting their budgets will remain the same or decrease. In a world that is turning more digital, effective CMOs are implementing more digital channels and fortifying their efforts with strong analytics. This move keeps your brand relevant and connected with prospects and clients.

Sixty-eight percent of CMOs expect to increase their marketing budgets for technology in 2021. Sixty-two percent expect to increase their digital media budgets, according to Gartner

If you’ve been relying on the same marketing approaches for years or resisting building your technology stack, now is a great time to implement new digital channels to meet your goals. Put in place clear objectives, metrics, and benchmarks to allocate your resources for the greatest returns. 

Reaching customers at the right time and in the right place will shorten the customer journey and save you money usually spent on top-of-the-funnel advertising campaigns. Integrate Intent Data into your multi-channel marketing strategy to reach prospects who are already in-market for your solution. This up-front investment will save you money by identifying prospects most likely to purchase and giving your marketing and sales teams the tools they need to reach out with customized messaging and solutions. 

The Prep Work

As of November 2020, 54% of CMOs and marketing VPs reported to Gartner that they’re disappointed in the returns on their marketing analytics investments. They cite being unable to leverage their data because of “poor data, inactionable results, or nebulous recommendations.” 

To set your team up for success, map your customer journey, develop a clear set of metrics and benchmarks per marketing channel, and diligently evaluate and adapt your strategy to put resources where they’re most effective. 

When you look at the broader picture, you should see how each marketing channel interacts with the others to create a cohesive customer journey from Awareness to Loyalty. 

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Understanding the Customer Journey

Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Loyalty

The traditional customer journey begins with awareness. How do you grab the attention of your prospects in a way that they’ll remember you? It ends with establishing a relationship of loyalty. What happens between those two points can be a long journey. With Intent Data, you can shorten that journey by reaching directly out to prospects looking for your solution before they even know who you are. 

Overall Metrics

CMOs pay close attention to the following metrics to ensure they’re getting the most out of their investments. Each of these major metrics tied to the customer journey are broken out into finer details as we look at each marketing channel individually, but these are the overarching goals. Being specific and realistic about your metrics and benchmarks will help you implement and evaluate an effective marketing strategy. 

Brand Awareness & Brand Equity

Brand awareness comes before the first stage of customer acquisition. Your prospects need to know you exist and they need to be able to remember you when a pain point does arise. Your logo, tagline, and personality be consistent across all channels and should help give your prospects a clear feeling of what it would be like to work with you. Position yourself as a trusted resource for content, blogs, and webinars and develop a relationship with potential clients. That way, they’ll know they can turn to you to help them uncover solutions to their challenges. 

Measure your brand equity through:

  • Web traffic: Are people consistently going to your website and spending time there exploring your content? 
  • High-quality social shares: When you promote content on social media, do people share it with their networks or engage in dialogue? 
  • Conversions: When someone comes upon your content and brand, do they convert from social media follower to newsletter sign up? Do they exchange their contact information to download your lead magnets? 
brand awareness infographic

Return on Investment (ROI)

How is each channel living up to the price tag of its investment? As a CMO, you have to prove to the rest of your team that your budget is paying dividends. This metric applies to individual channels, technology investments, and the overall marketing strategy. Careful record keeping and data analysis are key here. 

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

How much does it cost to close the sale? Measure CAC based on individual marketing channels and monitor each channel often. 

  • CAC= Money spent on Sales and Marketing/Number of Customers
  • Increase online conversion rates
  • Improve customer experience
  • Implement a CRM system

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

This is the Loyalty Stage. CLV is the total revenue you can expect from a single client account over the lifetime of that account. The longer you retain a client, the larger the CLV. Use this metric to identify which customer segments provide the most ROI and that you should be spending most of your focus on.

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MARKETING CHANNELS

Three-hundred thirteen million people use the internet every day. Digital marketing channels reach more people than any traditional marketing techniques of the past. Allocating your budget to increasing the quality and quantity of your presence will help you position your brand as a reliable thought leader, connect with prospects on a human level, and convert audiences to clients. Each channel is broken out individually, but consider how they can all strategically create a full user experience. 

Organic Search

Increasing the number of people seeing and visiting your website organically should be one of your top priorities. Your website is where your high-quality content lives and where you have the best opportunity to connect with prospects and evaluate their user behavior. 

Being within the very first results of a search engine results page (SERP) grows your organic reach. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gets you there. Organic search engine results are driven by optimizing your website content with the keywords, backlinks, on-site topics, local SEO, or even international SEO.

Measuring Success 

Success will always be defined as your ROI. The many steps to closing sales and maintaining high CLV can be broken out and measured.

Metrics & Benchmarks

  • Engagement Metrics: User behavior on your site
    • Conversion Rate:  Develop a set of distinct goals (downloading a lead magnet, signing up for your newsletter, requesting a consultation) and divide those goals by the number of unique visits
    • Pages per visit: how many pages are your visitors going to
    • Bounce Rate: How many users visited your page and immediately left
    • Average Session Duration: How long are people staying? 
  • ROI is measured by the number of Leads Generated or Sales Made
  • Search Engine Ranking: Where you appear in a prospect’s search engine results page (SERP) when they research something relevant to your solution
    • Nowadays, SEO goes beyond simple search engine ranking. Google makes it easier every day for users to find the information they need through:
      • Google My Business Listings
      • “Near Me” Map Listings
      • Google’s featured snippets and answer boxes
    • Keyword Rankings: How often is your domain shown in search results for keywords?
      • Track both unbranded keyword searches and branded traffic. Branded traffic comes from users who searched terms that contain your company name 
        • For example, “Intent Data analytics companies” vs. “LeadSift analytics solutions.”
    • Organic Click to Ratio: Of all the people who viewed your link appear in search results, how many of them clicked it? 
    • Number of linking domains: How many reputable external websites link back to yours? 
      • Build Link Authority by positioning yourself as an industry thought-leader, contributing to high-quality websites, and sponsoring events. 

Adapting 

When your website, content, and link authority are fine-tuned to every step of the customer journey from awareness through loyalty, the ROI will be huge. But the nature of digital is that it is competitive and ever-changing. That requires that you pay close attention to every metric. When you aren’t hitting your goals or when you notice your competition is pulling ahead, it’s time to reassess what your ideal audience is engaging with. 

Incorporating Intent Data 

Keeping tabs on how your Ideal Customer is behaving online can seem daunting. By incorporating Intent Data into your tech stack, you receive up-to-date information on what topics, blog posts, and forums your ideal audience is engaging with. Use this information to power new content, create high-value offers (HVOs) that high-level decision-makers can’t resist, know which online sources you should contribute back-links, and learn more about what your audience cares about.

Paid Search

While organic SEO can take time to build, paid search results guarantee your business appears above the organic results right away- but only for as long as you pay for the ad. The ranked Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are still evaluated by search engines to ensure the user is seeing relevant pages so users trust them.

Measuring Success 

The metrics and benchmarks are the same with Paid Search as they are with Organic Search. The key difference is that with Organic Search you are probably reaching people who are at the beginning of their customer journey and exploring solutions. When they come to your website, you can move them through relevant content and guide them down the journey. But with Paid Search, you’re often targeting people who are further along in the journey with high purchase intent. That means that Paid Search should provide a quicker ROI. 

Incorporating Intent Data 

Sixty-three percent of CMOs use Intent Data in paid ad campaigns, TOPO. Intent Data gives you greater visibility in the minds of prospects by sending you their behavior on competitor sites- even when they’re not interacting with your content yet. Leverage those insights for better topic targeting and content creation to stay ahead of the competition. Create custom ad audiences and target prospects with messaging specific to their needs. 

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the most popular digital activity among internet users in the U.S., according to Statista. Put yourself in prospects’ and existing clients’ workdays with targeted messaging and special high-value offers. Email is so specific that you can experiment with subject lines, delivery times and days, and messaging. Email marketing also lets you segment your audience into multiple personas in different stages of the user journey. 

Measuring Success

Email platforms like MailChimp provide companies with benchmarks across industries. It’s easy to track success and see how you’re comparing to others. With an effective email strategy, you can move people through the customer journey by providing them with content and resources they need. 

Metrics & Benchmarks

  • Open Rate: 21.33% across industries. 
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): Across industries 2.62%. 
  • Conversion Rate: How often are subscribers moving down the funnel to explore your solutions and products, download lead magnets, and ultimately become loyal customers? 
  • Bounce Rate: % of total emails that weren’t successfully delivered to your prospects’ inboxes due to invalid email addresses. If you don’t manage the number of hard bounces you’re getting, email providers will send you straight to spam. 
  • Shared/Forwarded Rate: How often are subscribers sharing your content? This is a great indicator of whether your content is valuable to them or not.
  • ROI: All of this should bring your prospects through every stage of the buyer journey until they schedule meetings.

Adapting

If you see many people unsubscribing, opening your emails, or engaging less, it’s time to adapt. Experiment with:

  • Subject Lines
  • Clearer Calls to Action (CTA) (and limit to one CTA per email)
  • Creative and Compelling Links 
  • Visuals, infographics, and photography
  • A/B testing campaigns: Email platforms will let you create two different versions of an email and send each one to separate sets of subscribers to track engagement

Incorporating Intent Data

Intent Data helps you refine email nurture and reach users on other platforms through targeted ads and social media. Based on the intent signals of users, you can personalize emails and reach out to prospects to address their pain points right away and provide content that is actually valuable to them rather than generic. This builds relationship trust and helps close deals.

Recipients are 75% more likely to click on emails from segmented campaigns than non-segmented campaigns, (MailChimp, 2017). 

CloudHealth Technologies implemented an account-based marketing approach. To kick-start their program, they turned to LeadSift to identify and add new accounts with in-depth contact and intent information. When high-level leads come in through LeadSift, the sales team uses additional tools to identify other individuals at the company who fit their buyer personas. This gives them new avenues for setting up meetings and closing deals with the right decision-makers. Looking ahead, CloudHealth Technology predicts a 150% ROI in the next 12 months of using LeadSift.

“We measure the success of our pipeline by the number of meetings held, and in our first 90 days of using LeadSift this number has increased,” explains Wharton. “Within just one hour of turning it on, we had a meeting scheduled.”

Cloudhealth technologies

Social Media

 Seventy-five percent of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level and VP-level buyers turn to social media when making a purchase, according to a LinkedIn white paper. B2B buyers probably won’t click to purchase the first time they encounter your brand through a post or ad. But if you use it correctly, social media will build your brand equity and prospects will remember you when they are in search of a solution you provide. 

 Measuring Success

Social media is your opportunity to humanize your brand and create an online presence that is personable and memorable. This is also where you can share your content marketing pieces that lead social media users to your website or to sign up for your email newsletter. Measuring success will follow two lines: how much people value your social media contributions and how often they’re converting. 

Metrics & Benchmarks

  • Engagement Rate per Post: Overall, how many people are liking, sharing, commenting, and retweeting your posts.
  • Page/Follower Growth: How many new users are following and/or liking your page? 
  • Reach Rate per Post: The potential unique viewers a post is reaching. This is your followers plus accounts that shared the post’s follower accounts. 
  • Total Impressions: How many times a post shows up in someone’s timeline
  • ROI: Referrals and conversions. 
    • Referrals: How many users are going to your website from social?
    • Conversions: Someone visits your website, moves down the buyer journey, and eventually becomes a customer. 

Adapting

Keep close records of your social media data so that if you plateau in engagement, you can look back to see what was and wasn’t working. Measure success in specific campaigns, on certain days and at various times, and with specific pieces of content. Whatever is working, send more resources into. Whatever isn’t, lose. Experiment with:

  • Introduce the humans behind your brand: You can do behind-the-scenes, employee advocacy, or even start an employee account.
  • Native Video: Social platforms prefer content that is shared directly to their site. 
    • Social video generates 12 times more shares than text and images combined.
    • Native videos on Facebook have 10 times higher reach compared to YouTube links. 

Incorporating Intent Data

When you leverage Intent Data with your social media channel, you take your marketing channel from passive to proactive. Intent data lets you find potential customers who may not know you exist yet. It shows you who is interacting with your competitors’ accounts and who is engaging with content on a topic related to pain points you solve for or solutions you provide. Then you can reach out to them with the information they’re seeking from your competitors.

LeadSift monitors your competitors’ social activity and reports high-quality intent signals back to your sales and marketing teams. LeadSift ran a campaign for a client monitoring who was engaging with competitors. When one competitor hosted a webinar, LeadSift mined the contact information of attendees, shares, and responses. We then sent them a personalized LinkedIn+ message and a follow-up email. The ROI? 12% of contacts booked meetings.

Paid Social

Utilize paid social to strengthen your social media presence. You can pay to display advertisements (PPC) or sponsored messages to target specific audiences. Paid social lets you segment audiences based on microtargeting and reach people beyond your followers and their friends. 

Measuring Success

The metrics are the same as organic social media, but just like with paid search you expect a faster ROI. With microtargeting, you can reach prospects with higher intent to purchase and can expect to close deals faster. Use your paid ads to:

  • Reinforce messages that you’ve shared organically
  • Microtarget based on self-identified interests, locations, and demographic information
  • Remarketing- promoting relevant content to people who have already visited your website 

Incorporating Intent Data

Use Intent Data to create custom audiences of contacts already searching for a solution like yours – these leads are warmer, meaning they’re more likely to convert, so you aren’t wasting ad budget, and you are providing leads with ads that are actually valuable to them.

“LeadSift has helped us generate a high quantity of net new leads that fit our key personas and ideal customer profile. These leads are added to our database automatically and have quality contact information. With LeadSift, we’re able to consistently grow our database with exactly the people we want to market to. It has been key for us hitting our monthly net new lead goal on a regular basis.”

Lola.com

“Another common use for intent data is targeting ad programs, used by 63%.”

TOPO

IMPLEMENTING INTENT AS A CHANNEL

Forty-seven percent of Intent Data users report a high or very high impact; 90% report at least a moderate impact, TOPO Intent Data Market Guide. Intent Data reinforces your existing marketing strategy to make every effort more effective. Connect with prospective clients who are already “in-market” for your solution and personalize your messaging to speak directly to individuals and specific ICPs. 

Set Up for Success 

Define your Ideal Customer Profile. Who provides the greatest CLV over time? Define who will give you the greatest ROI and how they behave at different stages of the customer journey. Prioritize those accounts first. This is the leading use of Intent Data according to TOPO, with 90% of CMOs prioritizing accounts in both marketing and sales.

Define keywords and topics that you want to focus on. These will be the challenges and pain points you address as well as the specific solutions that you provide. What solutions and challenges do your ICP most commonly search for at different points along the journey? At the Awareness Stage, your prospects are still trying to zero in on what it is they’re trying to solve for. Further down along the journey, they’ll have a very refined knowledge of what they need. 

Identify your competitors and keep a close eye on how who’s engaging with them across channels. Intent Data gives you insight into how users are interacting with your competitors. If you define them, you can reach out to users who are already engaging with their platforms and solutions. Think about both the competitors who over similar solutions as well as whatever less-advanced solutions people are currently using. 

Keep an eye on relevant events in your industry, around your topics, and by your competitors. Leverage intent singles to identify which virtual events your ICP is likely to attend. Double down your marketing efforts on them. 

  • Example: LeadSift discovered that for one of our clients, a Sales Productivity Vendor, niche events like MidWest Dreaming have high concentrations of prospects with low competitor presence. This is how Intent Data separates you from your competitors. 

Intent Data in the Customer Journey

Intent Data reinforces existing marketing channels by giving CMOs a clearer picture of where prospects are in the customer journey. Used correctly, intent signals will help you curate messaging to target audiences and move them from awareness to loyalty. We’ll recap the points we covered earlier. 

  • Social Media: Engage with prospects in a meaningful way. Build brand awareness.
  • Paid Search/Social: Target custom ad audiences with solutions they’re already searching for and put yourself into their consideration.  
  • Organic Traffic: Guide content strategy to build strong brand equity, guide user behavior, and help customers through the decision stage. 
  • Email: Segment Audiences and offer personalized messaging and solutions to move them through the customer journey.

“The leading use of intent data is selecting or prioritizing accounts (90%), followed by sharing insights with sales and sales development (68%). The most effective approach to leveraging intent data is to consider it as part of a broader picture.”

TOPO

USE INTENT DATA TO SECURE SALES MEETINGS

Intent Data turns event attendees into clients. Find out which companies are likely to be represented at industry events, who their decision makers are, and the best way to contact them to schedule sales meetings with the prospects who fit your ICP. 

More than 170,000 people attended the Dreamforce 2016 conference. NSBI and Branham Group set a goal to help Nova Scotian clients book six meetings each with prospects. The challenge was that Peter Wolchak, Chief Analyst at Branham Group, wasn’t provided with the complete guest list. He was only provided with a list of exhibiting companies. 

Branham Group teamed up with LeadSift to help identify attending executives who could be in-market for their individual clients’ solutions. Using Intent Data, LeadSift filtered data based on Job Title, Seniority, and Industry parameters. It also provided direct contact information with social profiles so that Peter could reach out directly to contacts without manually searching databases for contact info- saving him hours to focus on outreach. Furthermore, LeadSift harnessed Account-Based Intelligence and provided contact information for different decision-makers for each account Peter was working on. 

By the end of the meeting, Branham Group had surpassed their goals of securing 6 sales meetings per client. They had booked 10-12 meetings for their Nova Scotian clients with prospects fitting their ICP!

DRIVING OUTBOUND STRATEGY WITH INTENT DATA

When your company’s marketing techniques plateau, implement new marketing channels. Reinforce those channels with Intent Data to secure meetings and provide a quick ROI.

Digital agency Abacus generates over 70% of their sales from Inbound/Paid Marketing. When they reached a growth ceiling, they decided to explore a targeted outbound marketing strategy. 

Abacus reached out to LeadSift to identify and connect with the right people at the right companies at the right time. They created three intent triggers:

  • Competitive Engagement: identify companies that were engaging with other agencies in their space
  • Topic Engagement: identify companies that were consuming/engaging with content about relevant industry topics
  • Event Attendance: identify companies that were attending/sponsoring a few key digital marketing conferences

Abacus’ team focused on developing highly personalized Nurture streams for each trigger. Each one had distinct CTAs and between 4 and 7 touchpoints over Email and Social Media. 

Average industry rate response from cold emails is less than 1%. Within one month, Abacus was booking meetings at 5% and 6% for two different nurture streams. For the third nurture stream, they earned a 17% reply rate on social shares. 

Using LeadSift Intent triggers along with a smartly created Outbound Nurture stream – Abacus was able to rapidly scale their outbound efforts and generate MQL’s. LeadSift added a firepower that not only made a significant contribution to growth but also gave an almost instant ROI. Intent Signals drove MQLs at 5X the industry rate for Abacus.

“LeadSift helped us accelerate growth and unlock scale by connecting with the right companies at the right time.”

abacus agency

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Evaluating and measuring your B2B marketing channels is crucial to facilitate a successful and efficient sales funnel. Intent Data is a powerful channel that supports almost every other channel. At the end of the day, everything measures back to its Return on Investment.

  • CMOs are redirecting marketing budgets to focus on technology and digital marketing
  • The customer journey is long, be present for all of it
  • Intent Data helps you speak directly to users 
  • Set clear benchmarks and time-bound goals to track success
  • Experiment with targeted messaging to develop more engagement

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CHANNEL EVALUATION CHECKLIST 

  • Before getting started
    • Benchmark where you were before implementing the new channel
    • Define the target persona you’re trying to capture from the channel. Who is your Ideal Client Persona (ICP) for each channel? Because each channel serves multiple parts of the customer journey and you can segment your audiences, this can get complex.
    • Set clear, measurable goals before
      • What are your short and long-term goals? 
      • How many MQLs/SQLs/Meetings/Customers do you want to gain?
      • Is this for brand awareness, increase in MQLs, more customers, etc?
    • Create your channel strategy
      • What messaging will be across this channel?
      • Will it be separate or integrated throughout other channels?
      • Once these leads come in, what happens to them?
    • Evaluate long term channel opportunities
      • Is it scalable?
      • How difficult is it to set up and maintain? Does it need constant attention or can you turn it on and let it run for a while?
      • Is this a traditional, reliable channel or something new and potentially risky?
      • Who primarily uses this channel and what are they using it for?
  • During
    • Track all spending
    • Optimize for what’s working
    • Track progress to goal
    • Talk to your sales team for their opinion on lead quality
  • After
    • Did you meet or exceed your goals?
    • Is your ROI sustainable in the long run?
    • Discuss what could be done better moving forward

Sources