Using Intent Data to Advance ABM to the Next Level

The topic of “Next-Level ABM” was the focus of the recent B2B Marketing Exchange virtual event (June 7–10). TechTarget CMO John Steinert had the opportunity to moderate a virtual conversation on intent data with Content Director Andrew Gaffney. Some of the information they discussed at the well-attended session is captured in this blog.

Andrew: Can you assist us in better comprehending the various signal data sources and how/where they should be used in your go-to-market (GTM) strategy?

John: Let’s first discuss several signal types so that we can start to pick apart the situation and make some apples-to-apples comparisons. Descriptive data and prescriptive insights are the two main areas I prefer to consider. Both contain signals, but they are distinct from one another, as are the use cases for them. “Descriptive” signals, in my opinion, provide information about a market, an account, or even a person that is directional in nature. By this, I mean that they can aid in the more effective market, account, or person navigation. Technographics, for instance, falls under this genre. I also include a lot of the social signals at the individual level in this category. I make use of descriptive signals in my go-to-market approach to help my positioning and targeting tactics. For a seller, for instance, account signals regarding finance and organizational adjustments can assist you to comprehend the psychological state of those at the account.

To me, “prescriptive” signals are substantively different. While they can be really helpful for strategy if you monitor them over time, the most obvious value in the near term is that they can tell you exactly what to do right now – who to go after, what value propositions to put forward, and so on. The key thing to look for in prescriptive data is how granular it is at the individual level and regarding the groups of people we all know to make up a buying team and a buyer’s journey.

Andrew: How are use cases for signal data changing or expanding – are they becoming more widely used across marketing or sales?

John: Advertising, outbound email, inbound conversion, and many other marketing innovations are driven by signal data. Actually, this is only a logical extension of how first-party signals have always been used in our systems. On the other hand, sales organizations are swiftly catching up to marketing companies in terms of the number of people active in the adoption of signal data. The tactical importance of the signals in influencing things like call patterns, cadence design, and sales messaging is the reason for this. Because each salesperson’s area is effectively a micro-ABM list, having current information on an account and the people who work there is quite valuable.

Andrew: Best practices for addressing topics with intent data?

John: It’s crucial to understand that the word “intent data” encompasses a variety of various sorts of signals as well as combinations of signals, as is the case with many fast-moving categories in the martech/sales tech industry. It’s important to keep in mind that the value you may derive from any specific type or combination depends heavily on what the signal can tell you and how the users will be able to utilize that information in your organizations and processes. For instance, planners frequently utilize what I refer to as “descriptive signals” in conjunction with a variety of other information to create larger broad changes. Simply said, they aren’t particularly helpful for tactics. You need to if you want to fast accelerate tactical progress.

About these granular signals are “themes.” Since a customer has the best chance of entering a transaction and winning it there, we at TechTarget refer to these as “Entry Points.” These subjects are chosen using a combination of what we know about a particular market from having examined what is happening there – something we do every day as a publisher and research organization – and what our clients can tell us about their solutions and the markets in which they compete or succeed. As a result, we generate topics that serve as tags for identifying and highlighting certain accounts and the users that inhabit them at the precise moment they consume pertinent content. This type of thematic signal may be generated by client content and our editorial material.