Targeting trifecta: 3 powerful buying signals to drive high-impact programs

By Caroline Van Dyke

Posted on 12-17-2020

It feels as if every year there is a wave of news that buying has changed or B2B buying cycles have become more complex than ever. You know the headlines. Not to say that the business landscape isn’t continually evolving, but there is some good news to counteract such a daunting influx of information that can seemingly appear to make a B2B marketer’s job more challenging.

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Enter data. On its own, the word “data” pretty much funnels through every aspect of marketing, including how to pick targets, how to set up and execute programs, and of course, how to track results. With data touching everything we do, marketers have to be sure to pay attention to the right information at the right time to truly get value. One way data can help soften the blow of the ever-complex buying cycle? Identifying (then acting) upon readiness to buy.

Breaking down the targeting trifecta

Marketers are all too familiar with needing to do more with less. Goals often grow and resources may stay flat. That means you need to get a bit more selective with what you are putting marketing dollars toward and making sure you have clear signs and behaviors that targeted audiences are in the market for what you are selling. That is where the targeting trifecta comes in, bringing you three key ready to buy signals that are critical to be efficient.

Fit

Vanity metrics like form fills and clicks are on their way out, and for good reason. Do they actually translate to revenue for your brand? Can you really be sure the bulk of those contacts will become happy customers?

The simple answer is usually no.

Engagement from just anyone does not cut it. Most B2B products have a clear market size they can pursue, and they should be spending only toward that group. That is the first and most important part of your targeting trifecta: Fit.

Rather than just basing your understanding of your target market on gut feeling, you can use your existing data or market data to validate your audience. This is an exercise in defining your ideal customer profile (ICP) to understand your high-fit audience. This breaks down things like company size, revenue, location, industry, tech stack, etc., to build a blueprint for running broader programs or coming up with a target account list.

A table with different columns showing attributes and values.

You will be able to identify known accounts or contacts already in your market database, as well as use existing B2B data from companies like Roll Works to begin reaching the vast universe of unknown buyers that match your criteria.

This should be where you start before you take intent or engagement into consideration. It truly is the bedrock of a sound marketing strategy and will be what you layer other buyer readiness signals over. If you run programs without this in mind, you will likely be spending budget and time on accounts that are not very likely to turn into closed deals.

Intent

Once you have your unknown or known universe of accounts, the natural urge will be to focus your efforts even more. Knowing how many accounts you should market to that are high-fit is one step, but identifying additional signals of buyer readiness is crucial to target your efforts and to customize outreach.

One of marketers’ biggest struggles is bringing buyers in before they make that first engagement on your branded site. If you’re a cloud services provider, there is a high probability your ideal audience is reading about products similar to yours or doing category research. The average business buyer is nearly 60 percent through to making their purchase decision before engaging a sales rep.

While this is all happening on third-party sites, you do not have to wait to act until they find you. Rather, you can find them.

By following a set of high-intent topics related to what you sell, you can begin to uncover early buying signals and create programs accordingly.

That might look like creating segmented audiences based on topics of high interest, and then launching digital air cover ads to educate them on your specific brand and point of view — ideally ending in engagement.

You can also use this information to send your audience on content-specific journeys, no longer having to guess what they may be interested in. If there is a certain topic growing in popularity, you can make sure they are on a track to receive more information.

Illustration showing how Intent topics lead to active early buying cycles which lead to high intent accounts for digital advertising with TOFU messaging.

It is as easy as that. Right- time-right-place messaging with intent will be a lighted path toward more content consumption and speed up the cycle to buy.

Engagement

The third layer to the targeting trifecta is a tried and true marketing data signal. If anything, it has probably gotten too much attention when looked at alone in its silo. Now that there are other layers of data to inform the value of your audience, engagement should not be the first thing you look at.

You need your prospects to engage on your site and with your brand to be ready for your sales team, but the key is to start viewing engagement as part of the story, not the whole story. Engagement is one of the best ways to understand what to offer your audience next for full-funnel marketing.

If someone has shown interest in top of funnel blog posts or only viewed a single eBook, you know that going right for a demo request next is not your best bet. On the other hand, if your prospects are spending an ample amount of time on your pricing page and have used an ROI calculator, you can be fairly certain they are ready for a more serious conversation.

Engagement proves to be the thermometer and indicator for maturing an account through the funnel.

Target your trifecta before and during the cycle

Now that these three signals can be brought together to create the most ready-to-buy audience, you will be able to power marketing programs that lead to revenue — not just vanity metrics.

Relying on the data trifecta of fit, intent, and engagement gives you the levers you need to target the right audience at the right time with the right message. With all the information at your fingertips, the next step is to continue to activate against high-fit, ready-to-buy accounts through the various channels you are already using today.

This starts all the way from bringing your audience in with display advertising, nurturing them with personalized offers, and ideally, continuing to pull them along the journey with content that maps back to their intent and engagement signals. Not only should these signals inform who you are targeting, but give you the power to act across the entire marketing funnel.

Topics: Future of Work, Insights & Inspiration, Digital Transformation, Campaign Management, Personalization, B2B, Experience Cloud,

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