When it comes to using data for marketing, think of data points like stars in the sky – at a glance, there’s a beautiful abundance beyond counting. With a more refined eye, you might see patterns or shapes that seem to be saying something. With scientific analysis, you can even find clear cut answers to critical questions. If you don’t know how to look at it, though, it may all seem overwhelming and potentially frightening. Just as early sailors were able to use the stars for navigation with minimal technology, though; even the most minimally analytical-minded marketers can still use data for targeted marketing. The key is in knowing which data points lead to the right decisions, and which are just shiny, twinkling distractions.
Data on Buyers and Customers is Important…
With new, yet well-founded marketing tenets in place like omni-channel communications, value-oriented content marketing, and real-time interactions, the bottom line is that today, we market to people, not businesses. Naturally, when most marketers look to data to inform and enrich their efforts, they look to the data they have on the most relevant people – their buyers and customers. They try to model out ideal buyer profiles, and acquire new contacts or target specific segments based on that data. Of course, these kinds of data-driven best practices will make your messaging, communications, and content extremely relevant to the buyers you’re targeting…
But Where’s Your Data on What Your Buyers Can Do?
If you’re a good marketer, you’ve probably seen forwarded messages from sales, or direct responses to campaigns to the tone of “I love this…” or, “this really hit home for me…” If you’re a good marketer with incomplete targeting, though, those messages might go on to say, “I love this, but my hands are tied right now,” or “this really hit home for me, but our company just isn’t ready for this.” That’s because when applying data for targeted marketing, you got distracted by the shiny end point: the buyers. After all, it is still true that everything comes down to them, but to effectively appeal to your buyers through targeting, you have to first know the environment in which they’re working.
Start with Business / Firmographic Data
Research on lead scoring – a relevant reflection of what organizations prioritize for targeted prospects – actually illustrates a trend where Best-in-Class marketing organizations are outpacing their peers in overall business performance by maintaining a mix of buyer-based interest and activity data, and business- based firmographic and capability data. What’s more, it’s the business-based data that most directly filters out who is a good fit for targeting, and who will likely have that “I love this, but I can’t…” reaction. That’s because the business, of course, is the environment in which your buyers are operating. You’re not selling to that business – you’re selling to its people – but the capabilities and resources of that business inevitably determine what your buyers can and can’t do.
Simplifying Data for Targeted Marketing:
To make the use of data for targeted marketing as simple as possible, don’t think of data as complicated 1s, 0s, algorithms, equations, or systems: look at your data as answers to questions. Before you worry about who are the right people to target, start with what enables your customers to buy. For those who are capable of buying, you’ll have already cut out a major hiccup in typical sales cycles as you know from the beginning that they’re sales-ready. For those who aren’t ready, you can avoid alienating them with offers of things they can’t have, and even create lead nurturing paths to potentially guide them or help them grow into being ready for your offerings later on.
Key Questions to Ask for Your Targeting Data:
Basically, when you use data for targeted marketing, you want it to answer questions like:
What tools, technologies, or commonalities do our buyers need in order to support our solution/offering?
What is (if any) the time period when my buyers can and can’t buy?
What actually (this is important as many companies just assume it’s annual revenue or company size) correlates to how much our buyers are capable of spending?
Are there commonalities among our most successful accounts that make our product / service especially valuable to those businesses, and if so, what are they?
If you can’t evaluate your data on your own to answer questions like these, though, you’re still well-off by having such questions on hand. If you need to consult a data scientist, or a third party data provider, you can go in knowing they have to be able to answer these questions for you in order to give you the value you’re looking for from their data.
Data for Targeting Builds on Relevance for Your Buyers
As noted earlier, the end point of effective targeting is in who your buyers are. By using data to filter out the businesses that can and can’t buy from you, the context for understanding the people behind those businesses ‒ your buyers ‒ becomes that much clearer and more focused. You can then use data to understand who your buyers are in a much more relevant sense and target them accordingly. When you aim to answer questions like “who is my ideal buyer?” you’ll be able to dig even deeper as you’ve already flushed out what makes that buyer worth targeting.
Again, like looking to the stars, there’s a lot to take in when using data for targeted marketing, but if you have reference points like critical questions and well-focused criteria, you can navigate your way through almost any marketing initiative.