With buyer data at an all-time high, it’s ironic that many B2B marketers still rely on gutfeel and hindsight over knowledge and insight. We’ve found that many brands are essentially gambling on six of the most important aspects of strategy development and implementation. But it would be much better to apply market intelligence and get more scientific with marketing spend. Here’s how.
Product roadmaps: Where are you going?
The intuition and vision of product managers plays an important role in the development of roadmaps. But ideally, this should run alongside evidence-led decisions rooted in hard data and scientific analysis. You can achieve this by analyzing data that gives true insight into how your product will resonate with buyers and how much revenue it’s likely to generate.
Start off by identifying a handful of metrics that reveal actual buyer habits. This data can be tracked over time and used to strategic advantage. It provides valuable intelligence on how to prioritize different elements of the roadmap, as well as helping to shape decisions along the way.
Segmentation: Who are you going after?
Segmenting targets in terms of organization size or location will only take you so far. It’s more effective to combine this with additional factors that strongly indicate demand and propensity to purchase. In the technology space, this ranges from installed technology and IT budget to online searches that typically pre-empt purchases three to 12 months down the line. It’s also important to understand how buyers’ awareness and consideration of your brand stacks up versus competitors across segments.
To ensure this activity is focused and effective, any characteristics you focus on must be clearly defined and easily observed – like online search trends that correlate with future purchases. They should deliver large enough segments to facilitate specific targeting. And they should be easy to measure, so you can make prudent decisions about how much budget and effort to invest where.
Positioning: How are you differentiating yourself?
Harnessing and continually monitoring data on competitor messaging and brand values is vital to ensure you can carve a unique proposition and brand territory, rather than simply becoming a ‘me too’.
You might consider tracking and analyzing some of the following competitor factors, or investing in professional competitor surveys to get a handle on:
- Online messaging and tone of voice – how are competitors presenting themselves? Can you out-maneuver them?
- Content marketing and news releases – what are they shouting about? How can you go one step further?
- Live job vacancies – these can give early insights into where the company is investing in or anticipating growth.
Detailed analysis of competitor data unlocks a better understanding of the wider environment in which you operate. This can help your business stay one step ahead, making strategic and intelligent moves to differentiate in a way that resonates with buyers and maintains product-market fit.
Messaging: How are you connecting with your target market?
Understanding the evolving concerns, priorities and pain points of buyers is both essential and entirely possible in the digital age. Investing in online research to monitor and analyze social media activity across multiple platforms can reveal a wealth of insight surrounding what they’re actively in-market to purchase.
Tracking the topics that matter most to buyers, based on their online research, can underpin the development of messages that strike a chord. You can optimize what you’re saying based on the issues, challenges or needs they are preoccupied with at any given moment.
Messaging can also be enhanced via competitor awareness. If you know what competitors are saying to customers, you can think of ways to go one better. And an impartial appraisal of how you compare to competitors across key capabilities facilitates more sophisticated messaging.
Demand Gen: How are you connecting with contacts who are in-market?
The topics that matter most to buyers – what they’re searching for, downloading or reading – should form the backbone of the content strategy. This, in turn, enhances demand generation activity. Offering in-market buyers exactly what they need, precisely when they need it is the smartest way to generate leads that are ripe for conversion.
When it comes to prioritizing segments for different types of marketing, insights surrounding buyer awareness and consideration of your brand are paramount. There’s no point investing in demand generation activity for a segment where awareness of your brand is low. Focus instead on those segments that already know you, or even better, are considering you.
Content: How do you know which topics are trending?
The internet is awash with content. Unfortunately, much of it is either not very good or not very effective. Scientific use of data can ensure you don’t fall into this trap.
Tracking how segments engage with content, and which pieces can be aligned with prospects who go on to convert, can facilitate more objective content planning. Over time, this can spark a virtuous cycle of continual improvement, offering more clarity on the buyer journey and leveraging content that is valued by target audiences.
If you’ve been flying blind when it comes to important marketing decisions, you’re not alone. Traditionally, it was impossible for B2B marketers to know exactly who was in-market for their goods, let alone who was aware of or actively considering their brand. But those days are gone. Accessing and leveraging market intelligence is critical to success in the digital age. It’s time to start making investment decisions that are led by insight, not hindsight.