Amp up Your Personas with Technology Intelligence

Why the type of technology a company invests in tells the best story

Tech Marketer Target

The cornerstone of all successful B2B marketing strategies is to know your target buyer and know them well.

B2B marketers invest a lot of time profiling their ideal customers so they can more fully align their messaging and programs to drive results. For many, developing detailed personas on their target buyers are a must. Typical information for these personas includes title, reporting structure, education, work experience, age, leisure activities…you get the idea.

But what if you could get a real glimpse into how your customers and prospects work every day? Think about it…the types of technologies they utilize on a daily basis to get their job done can provide a snapshot into their specific work responsibilities and daily workflow.

The reality is that businesses today could not function without the many technologies they utilize to simplify and automate everyday functions. At 1.8 billion users a day, Microsoft Office is a given for business professionals. If you are in Accounting or Finance, ADP, Concur, NetSuite and others will be part of your daily workflow. If you are a small business, it may look like QuickBooks. As a Marketer, Marketo, Eloqua or will be part of your technology suite.

The type of technology a company chooses to invest in often can tells a better story about their priorities than a title can. For example, the responsibilities of a Director of Marketing can vary considerably from company to company. Yet if you know the company is using Eloqua for marketing automation, it suggests that they have a fairly sophisticated digital marketing strategy, high-level marketing operation expertise, and a significant budget.

Looking beyond persona development, having an inside track on which technologies a company chooses to install, can provide complementary and competitive intelligence that can drive more effective demand generation execution. If your business provides a connector to ADP, Salesforce or Marketo that provides financial or contact data, honing in on those companies and contacts that utilize these software programs allows you to target your marketing efforts where you can have the most impact. Or, in the example of competitive intelligence, what if you had intelligence on organizations using a competitive technology or a tier 2 solution? When a company invests in a similar solution to your own, the business need and budget are already established (two of the biggest obstacles in the sales process). Before you send an email or your sales team picks up the phone, you already know the key selling points you need to make to go for the win.

For sophisticated marketers, this kind of technology intelligence can take your targeted campaigns to whole new level of effectiveness. At the end of the day, it just makes sense.

At Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex, our TechProspex data tracks over 5,000 technologies across 2,200 product mapped to over 4M companies with a 90% plus accuracy. When it comes to targeting, the more you know about your prospects and their technology, the better. Let our high-value TechProspex data give you a distinctive competitive edge.

Want further insight? Download our Five Targeting Strategies for Technology Marketers to learn more.

Shorten the Buying Cycle

How premium content can captivate qualified buyers

Shorten Cycle

Reeling in leads can be like running a Spartan race in stilettos, drinking Baileys on a hot summer day, or listening to your Aunt Janice tell you about the time she had her hip replaced… possible, yet unpleasantly challenging.

All jokes aside, I know how hard it is to find that hook, that angle that intrigues buyers and makes them realize the worth of your product or services. However, captivating buyers early on with relevant, engaging content is the key to shortening the cycle and can be accomplished with the right data and a little bit of creativity.

According to Demand Generation’s “2015 Content Preferences Survey,” 67% of buyers rely more on content to research and make purchasing decisions than they did a year ago. What’s more, 45% of buyers reported that they must view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a salesperson; some respondents admitted to needing to see upward of seven pieces before speaking with a rep.

It’s probably a good time to evaluate the success of your current content marketing strategy. Buyers like to see a myriad of content before engaging with you, so make sure you have a wealth of content that is easily accessible to your website visitors. Ensure that you’re using different types of content—blogs, case studies and eBooks—to interest those who may want to see a variety of pieces.

An abundance of diverse, branded content will not only provide concrete information, such as product functions and prices, but will also enable your potential buyers to gain a deeper sense of your value proposition and personality. In a world of lofty marketing concepts and campaigns, there is nothing a customer appreciates more than you getting to the point and providing them with something of value.

When you offer your buyers all of the information they are looking for in one central location, you can shorten the buying cycle dramatically. You establish a trustworthy relationship between your brand and buyers by providing resonant content that incites action, i.e., content that makes your buyers want to speak with a sales rep.

But the secret ingredient to optimally accelerate the buying cycle with your content marketing is leveraging insight extracted from your marketing database. We must ensure that the business contacts information residing within our databases is accurate and complete so we can create content targeted specifically toward certain groups of buyers.

Here’s an example: if you have a group of small business owners from the same geographical location that have similar budgets, you can create a message that specifically mentions their location and links back to the products and services within their price range. In doing so, your buyers will feel that this message was personally tailored to meet their needs and interests.

Is your content marketing successful? Measure the average length of your buying cycle to find out. You might learn that you need to learn more about your contacts in order to create higher-quality content that engages and turns them into buyers.

Let Data Guide You Through the B2B Buyer’s Journey

Why making your buyers the center of your universe is the key to success

Buyer's Journey

Your potential buyers begin their quest to find the most suitable product or service to address their business needs long before they ever make contact with your brand. As a result, each one of your prospects will be in a different stage of their journey by the time they interact with your marketing collateral—e.g. downloading your infographic, attending your webinar or opening your email.

Thus, marketers need to account for these various phases when crafting their strategies. You must have personalized content on deck that will engage everyone from a very interested buyer to a frequent website visitor that is just starting out on the buying journey. Researching and documenting your buyer persona, a detailed profile of an example buyer that represents the real audience, can help to inform—and transform—your strategy in ways you may not have thought possible.1

With that said, it’s no surprise that 87% of senior marketing executives’ top goals for the next three years is to better understand the customer buying journey. After all, understanding your potential customers’ buying journeys puts you in a better position to provide premium content that addresses their needs and concerns.

What’s more, 76% of senior marketing executives feel their second most important goal is to educate and influence purchasing decisions by mapping the right content assets and distribution channels to key stages in the customers’ buying journey.

So how does one effectively map out the buyer’s journey? It requires gaining customer insight, or focusing on buying behavior patterns, and leveraging a savvy team of marketers who can strategically match actionable messages to specific groups of buyers. Because your buyers are the source of the insights that will differentiate your content and clarify all decisions, we’ve created a Buyer Persona Guide to help you through the process (view here).

Before you can begin drawing up your map, you need to derive customer insights from your marketing database and tactfully organize these findings into groups based on demographics, firmographics and behavior.

Segmenting your data will enable you to extract more valuable information that will help you to streamline your investigation of the buyers’ journey. For instance, you can group together CMOs from businesses with 100 plus employees and a budget of $500,000. At the same time, you can group smaller businesses with smaller budgets. Doing so allows you to spot trends and patterns based on demographics.

When it comes to content engagement, you might learn that CMOs from larger companies are more responsive to sophisticated market research-based email marketing messages that inform and inspire action from the recipient. Conversely, representatives from smaller businesses may spend more time engaging with content such as thought leadership blog posts, case studies, or whitepapers.

By segmenting your data, you can pay closer attention to a specific group’s behavior and determine what makes them respond to your brand quicker. By continuing this process, marketers stand to gain acute insight as to what types of content stimulate most buyer interest and ultimately expedite the buying cycle.

To learn more about buyer-guided content marketing, download our Buyer Persona Guide filled with tips, tricks, and insight you can apply to your own strategy today. Stay tuned for future blogs on the new buyer’s journey I just rolled out at Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex.

Hey Marketers, Be Careful How You Spend Your Money on Analytics

CMO Survey predicts 83% increase in spend on analytics over the next 3 years

Increase Spend Analytics

Divvying up your marketing budget is a complex task; there is so much to be gained (and lost) that you don’t want to waste precious resources (or your reputation) on tools and tactics that aren’t effective. One area of marketing spend that continues to promise strong returns is in the area of data analytics. But a word of caution: don’t accept the findings and recommendations of analytics engines on blind faith, be diligent and confident that they are based on a solid foundation of accurate information.

A recent study, titled “The CMO Survey,” revealed that marketing leaders’ spend on analytics is predicted to increase by 83% over the next three years. This isn’t that surprising when you consider that the areas most likely to be advanced by data analytics include customer acquisition, customer retention, social media and multichannel marketing. These all impact both the top and bottom line for marketers and their businesses, so it makes sense to find a better/smarter/more cost effective way to improve those metrics.

Interestingly though, given the strategic impact that analytics can have on a marketing plan and despite the fact that marketers are planning to increase their analytics budgets during the next few years, the report also found that 69% of CMOs have not formally evaluated the quality of their marketing analytics. This is a mistake. You can’t blindly accept what a tool is telling you without some kind of validation process in place.

So, when it comes down to rolling out an effective marketing analytics plan, here are some tips to ensure your new data analytics budget produces meaningful results:

  • Evaluate flaws in your current plan: Pinpoint what isn’t working so you can ensure your new plan doesn’t include the same mistakes. For example, one major pitfall that could be sabotaging your current analytics success is an abundance of dirty data. Expired email addresses, duplicate business contacts and inaccurate demographic and firmographic data can negatively impact the insights generated from your analytics. This can send you after the wrong audience or market, wasting resources and time. So, evaluate the last couple of campaigns and see if they are delivering the results you expected, if not, get to the root of the issue and fix it.
  • Eliminate and enhance your data: Regardless of how your campaigns are performing, it’s time to say sayonara to dirty data. Dedicate some of your data analytics budget to implementing best-in-class data management Investing in a system that can regularly cleanse, enhance (by injecting new, reliable business contacts) and segment your data will enable you to market smarter. Credible, segmented business contacts will help you convert more sales and realize heightened ROI.

When increasing your spend in marketing data analytics, make sure you invest in the right technology so you can gain the biggest bang for your buck.

Why Psychographic Data Isn’t So Psycho

How psychographic data helps B2B marketers gain valuable insight

Psychographic Data

As modern marketers, we know we need data to substantiate the messages we deliver to our target audiences. But we should also understand the value of gathering information beyond what we can infer based on their locations, budgets or company size. If we really want to segment consumers in the most accurate way possible, we must pull back deeper layers of their collective psyche.

According to a recent study from Forbes Insights and Quantcast, 71% of the 300 executives surveyed answered that psychographic data is paramount to the success of their digital marketing campaigns. So how can marketers garner more compelling personal information about the contacts in their businesses’ databases short of meeting with them face-to-face?

Here’s some advice:

Tune in to social media: Get a better handle on your customers’ personal interests by keeping up with their conversations on social media. When you start being more attentive to your key targets on Twitter or LinkedIn, you may notice certain trends surrounding the values and thoughts about your industry. Leverage this information to market your products to each business segment differently. Show your prospects and existing customers that you care about their interests by engaging with them across these platforms and reflecting their values in your marketing messages. If you can’t commit to interacting with each of your customers and prospects (because face it, who can?) then at the very least define a target group of influencers to engage with and study at least a few times a month. Often times, you can find quick trends by studying the leaders of the pack. For example, on a flight to a big marketing conference, three marketers were sitting in a row. They were all wearing black jeans, had oversized headphones, iPhones, and a hardcopy book to read. I could turn that into a small infographic, a funny tweet to connect with my target audience, or even choose to giveaway books and headphones at my next tradeshow.

Engage your buyers: Getting to know your buyers through a customer advocacy program can give you an inside look into what makes them tick. Through challenges and quizzes, you’ll discover what types of movies, music, activities, and interests your customers are excited about. You can also find out what social platforms they use the most, what they have to say about blog posts and campaigns, and more. This information can fuel your future campaigns. If you discover your audience really loves nerf guns and Star Wars, you can work that into your display advertising and see how it impacts clickthroughs on your digital ads. For us, we know many marketers love fitness and travel, two themes we’ve brought into our marketing campaigns with great success.

Take this data and use it to fuel online and offline activity: Marketers often ask how to actually use this type of information in their programs. My recommendation is treat it like a mix of fields you can add to your marketing database, and information to fuel your events, content and display ad strategy. If you add fields like “Interests” or “Events Attended” and start collecting that data through surveys or your sales team, you can then study the results to influence which events you attend, what you giveaway at tradeshows, fun activities you plan for customer appreciation, and what types of images/memes/gifs you use on Twitter. Those small touchpoints and ways to engage with the subcultures of your core audience can add up to much stronger conversion rates.

Make a commitment to get beyond your data fields and you’ll be happy you made the effort. You might also discover a unique new interest, or find a niche group of people who share your deep love of baseball, rap music, scotch and marketing ops. We’re a pretty cool group.

A Shoutout to First-Time Bosses

Tips for becoming a successful leader

Lauren & Fumi OfficeShoutout to all the new, first-time bosses out there. This blog is dedicated to you. To the people that were hard-working, results-grabbing individual contributors yesterday, and today are responsible for managing a team… it’s pretty different.

I was promoted to Director of Demand Generation six months ago and have since struggled with moving into the “boss” role. I mean, sure I love Lean In’s Ban Bossy campaign, but living the reality of being a boss, uniting a team, teaching them new skills, and encouraging their passions, all while delivering fabulous results is a whole new ballgame.

I’ve always been pretty obsessed with leadership. I’m the oldest of eight kids, was the Student Council President, and have spent more time reading leadership books than I care to admit. Combining that with my strong desire to always be a top earner at work has helped me carve out a pretty successful career thus far.

Until I became a boss.

My own boss warned me about this the day he offered me the promotion. He said the time and energy it takes to make sure your team has what they need to get results (while maintaining your own workload) was going to be tough.

Fast forward to my spin class this week… I’m on a bike, peddling so hard I thought my legs were going to fall off, when the instructor told us to think about something that’s been bothering us, to focus on it, and use that frustration in the workout. Immediately, I thought, “I wish I was a better leader, a better teacher for my team.” And thus, this post was born.

I realized I was face-to-face with a great teacher, my spin instructor, and that there were some strong leadership habits I could borrow from her. After all, she leads 30+ people in an extremely difficult, yet well-coordinated setting that absolutely delivers results. And we clearly have fun because we all come back the next day for more.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Establish goals right away

At the beginning of each class, they spend time going over exactly what we need to accomplish to have a successful class. There’s an introduction to the bike, clear instructions on what the expectations are (always stay on the beat of the music), and a time for questions if anything is unclear.

As leaders, we need to make sure our team knows the exact goals of their role, the goals of the team, and the goals of the business to ensure we have a successful year. If there is a solid definition of goals, it becomes easy for everyone to prioritize their time.

Check in frequently

Spin class is hard. We’re sprinting up hills, doing push-ups on the handlebar, all while dancing to the beat of some EDM remix that most people haven’t heard outside of a rave (and all that goes along with that). To help us through it, the instructor doesn’t let a minute go by without checking in with the class. “How we doing South Boston?” and “push yourself!” are two phrases heard often during these workouts.

As new leaders, we must take the time to check in with the people on our team. Now, I’m not talking about hovering, helicopter-style micro managing. I’m talking about ignoring that temptation to focus on your ever-growing To Do list and making the commitment to put your team members needs before your own. Do they need encouragement? Do they need to be pushed harder? You’ll only know if you are regularly checking in to see if they have everything they need to achieve sustainable high performance.

Give public shoutouts

Every now and then, it’s obvious someone is really pushing hard in class. Of course, we’re all there to work our collective butts off (literally) but once a week there will be someone who is just crushing it. Their legs are flying, they’re on the beat, and they’ve got a smile on their face. The instructor will call these superstars out by name, in front of the class, and you can tell in that moment that all the hard work is worth it.

We all know that telling our team they’re doing great work is obvious… but don’t forget to share that success with other groups in your company. My events manager almost doubled our booth traffic from 1H 2014 to 1H 2015 and my marketing automation coordinator is ensuring all our inbound leads are being called within the first 15 minutes that they come in. Those are not small feats, and that success should be shared. Make sure you’re pushing their success up the ladder. If it makes it to the CEO, you know you’ve done your job, and it will make them feel that going above and beyond is worth it.

So, those are my tips to help us become better leaders. Hopefully my team will see the benefits as I put these into practice. Major thanks go to Elise, Sarah, Candice, Rose, and all the lovely ladies at The Handle Bar South Boston for the inspiration… and the results.

Lead Quality: The Top Priority for Marketers

How to successfully improve the quality of your leads

Clean Up Your Data

As marketers, we know that the quality of the leads we generate directly impacts our brand’s success. Simply put, poor-quality leads don’t convert into good customers. Therefore, don’t spend your time on them– it’s a waste of time and money. It is now more critical than ever that marketers re-evaluate their demand generation strategy and spend to focus on driving the right leads, not just more leads.

Indeed, marketers are aware that their strategies need improving, and are redefining their values and best practices. In fact, according to the 2015 “Demand Gen Report Benchmark Study: What’s Working in Demand Generation,” more than one-third of B2B marketers surveyed said they planned to increase their demand-generation budget by 20% in 2015.

And it seems like marketers are more aware of the state of their data quality. Of the B2B marketers surveyed, 74%  reported that producing greater lead quality, as opposed to lead quantity, was their top demand-generation priority this year. To me, that shows much greater self-awareness than I’ve seen in the past.

So, if improved lead quality is your top priority, how do you go forth and gather more worthy leads? Here is a plan for success (hint: it starts with your marketing database):

  • Assess the damage: When is the last time you conducted a deep audit of your business contacts database? If you can’t recall, then your database is most likely comprised of many expired and inaccurate contact records. And, if you’ve been reaching out to these invalid contacts all along, your outbound marketing efforts have been stymied and you are putting your sender score at risk.
  • Clean it up: You don’t have to repair your database all on your own; best-in-class data management technologies are available to do the auditing and cleansing for you. For example, today’s advanced marketing software can complete this legwork by identifying invalid business contacts and providing relevant, accurate entries to replace the others.
  • Target your campaigns: Once your database of marketing contacts is squeaky clean, you still need to segment your leads into different categories based on demographic and firmographic similarities. In doing so, you can send targeted messages, e.g., in email blasts or blog posts, to your different consumer groups. And since consumers want personalized, focused content from the brands they love, this tactic will up your sales and produce happier, more engaged customers.

So keep your business’s momentum going strong with a focus on lead quality this year. Increase demand generation productivity by first assessing the state of your marketing database. What are you waiting for?

The Power of Target Marketing: Acquisition vs. Retention

Why strengthening your existing relationships is key


We’ve all been there: your sales team needs the net-new logos to meet their growth goals, but for one reason or another, your marketing tactics aren’t delivering them. At the end of the day though, its about revenue growth, and by solely focusing on acquiring brand new customers you are missing a big piece of the puzzle. So, what’s a marketer to do to increase sales?

As it turns out, the solution is right under your nose: your current customers. Those loyal patrons who have been doing business with your brand all along represent huge incremental potential via improved retention rates and cross-sell and upsell revenue. It costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain and upsell and existing customer, so rather than only working to gain new business, try allocating some of your time and spend to your existing customer base. So don’t forget to show more love to your loyal clientele and work on strengthening those bonds.

Here are few tips and tricks to help your business drive quantifiable results from improving retention, rather than acquisition:

  • Know your buyer: Take it all the way back to beginning of the sales cycle, to the moment you identified the potential buyers that are now your customers. What are the common characteristics? What keeps them coming back to your brand and what products do they purchase? Reflect upon the answers to these questions before you develop your next campaign and call to action. Once you can clearly define the key characteristics of your common buyer, then you can hone in on those preferences and make more meaningful connections with them.
  • Listen to feedback: To be successful, marketers must stay alert to social arenas. Your consumers post both negative and positive reviews about your business on a wealth of different platforms—from Twitter to LinkedIn to G2—and you need to stay on top of these assessments. These are opportunities to engage with your customers, to gain insight into potential product development opportunities, and to ensure that your customers feel like they have been heard.
  • Use marketing automation: Plenty of marketers think they can sidestep marketing automation but, in reality, this technology can do wonders for establishing strong, ongoing relationships with your customers. Scheduling messages to your customers to either keep them engaged (“we miss you” emails) or to thank them for their engagement (“thanks – you rock, here’s some swag!”) is a sure fire way of communicating how important their relationship is to you.

Marketing isn’t all about acquiring new leads. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and spend time strengthening our existing relationships.

Surprising Words of Advice: Aim Smaller with Marketing Campaigns

How to ensure your micro-campaign proves successful

Aim Smaller

We’re all familiar with the expression “less is more.” But, as marketers, do we ever stop to consider how narrowing our focus might give us better results? Sometimes, we get so overwhelmed by the big picture that we miss out on quick wins and immediate opportunities. After all, our standard strategies tend toward seeking out more leads, more data and more engagement.

What if the key to unlocking optimal demand generation from our marketing campaigns is, in fact, doing less—that is, in regard to downsizing swollen campaigns? Indeed, during the recent B2B Content2Conversion Conference, the VP and group director of SiriusDecisions discussed a growing trend across the marketing landscape defined as “micro-campaigns.” It’s a simple, but counterintuitive, objective: We must aim smaller with our marketing campaigns to realize more success.

In order to create a successful micro-campaign, B2B marketers must utilize data in a highly targeted manner which enables campaigns to become focused for a smaller audience. In doing so, you can create more personal marketing messages for a specific group of buyers.

As such, the driver of your micro-campaign success is your marketing database. Marketers must focus on eliminating “dirty data” from their databases so that they can target their campaigns toward the buyers who are most likely to purchase. When a business’s database is cleansed, enriched and segmented properly, marketers can extract more pinpointed insights about their buyers and, in turn, create more-targeted messages.

So, what are some other ways to ensure your micro-campaign proves successful? Here are a couple tips:

  • Establish your niche: Use your database as a means of investigating your customers and their top pain points. Then, repackage your company’s offerings with a specific solution that speaks directly to these consumers and their needs. In this way, you can set yourself apart in your market by zeroing in on specific targets, rather than over generalizing your market and trying to speak to everyone at once.
  • Downsize channel usage: If you previously embarked on large-scale campaigns focused on a widespread group of buyers, you probably found that some channels were more effective than others; leverage those channels to your advantage. For instance, hone in on a singular social media channel for your next campaign—one that will provide an avenue for focused, personalized conversations with your consumers. Establishing a solid relationship with your potential buyers in a more intimate way will help drive more-efficient buyer journeys, stimulate good reviews and lead to more recommendations.

So marketers: Think big, aim small! You’ll be surprised by what you see.