Must-Do Steps To Better Understand Your B2B Target Audience
CEO of MeritB2B, the leading provider of B2B marketing solutions. Data-Driven. Tech Enabled. Growth Obsessed.
There is a reason why the old adage is “know thy customer” and not “know thy target audience.” Knowing your customer is a lot easier. You can talk to your customer directly and develop a relationship with them over time that provides a trove of insights. Knowing the customer and knowing your target audience is a continuum, and they are not mutually exclusive concepts. Therein lies a huge advantage: By knowing your customers, you can create a scalable omnichannel audience targeting strategy.
When it comes to campaign planning, I find that companies often have two problems. First, they make do with subpar insights, operating on old data, assumptions and hunches. Second, they often set their audience targeting sites on a small persona-based audience that is disconnected from the many opportunities for new business that are all around them. There is actually a trove of customer data within reach that can inform more accurate audience strategies and help to scale beyond generic persona targets. This is something we help our clients tap into by taking a holistic data-first approach.
Analytics teams often build models based on best customers to find similar audiences of new customers. Using key attributes from buying groups or companies you have success with leads to new audiences that are close to your core target. To capture the valuable opportunities customer data can provide when it comes to building business-to-business (B2B) target audiences, here are the critical steps to creating a best-in-class operation:
Update Your Customer (And Target) Data
Old contact lists, holes and inaccuracies should be the top priority when it comes to using customer insights as a pipeline to more effective audience targeting. Whatever data you have must be cleaned, de-duplicated and have unique identifiers assigned to each entry. First and foremost, this facilitates cost-effective and efficient marketing. New customers at existing business sites are often the lowest hanging fruit in generating new business, and these kinds of opportunities will reveal themselves when target audiences and customers are seen as a cohesive whole. Good data also enables precision for house file suppression, conversion trackings and accurate reporting.
Then, insights should be examined for gaps that can be filled in with new data sources. Real-time company and individual-level insights are key to a good target audience strategy, including intent data and search data, to name just two. Sales insights and marketing databases should be unified and updated based on the most recent touchpoint within an organization, whether it was a sales call or a recent change on a LinkedIn profile. Ultimately, the more you know, the more power you have to create highly effective campaigns.
Create A Target Audience Valuation Model Based On Customer Insights
Before any acquisition campaign in any channel, it’s critical to know the expected downstream value once you convert them into customers, as well as the potential universe of the segment you are targeting. Holistic audience targeting connects attributes of your current customers to those of potential new customers. Customer insights serve as the basis for many of the most successful targeting models.
Usually, there is a limited universe of those high-value target audiences. For example, your marketing team might have identified chief technology officers (CTOs) at manufacturing companies as its top target. Not only is this a small, hard-to-reach group, but there might also be a much larger overall revenue opportunity with incremental customers coming from within current customer companies or adjacent ones. Finding the right channels, at the right costs can help direct a good strategy that scales beyond just the top-tier prospect list.
Customer insights can also help with creating a target audience strategy that scales across channels. Map out the potential value of not only individual target audiences but also how many of them exist and which different channels they touch before they buy. This information can be layered over elements, like your messaging and purchase journey, to create a model that can help direct target audience outreach most effectively.
The more segments and channels in play, the more complex yet important this exercise becomes. Only a well-built model can expose this valuable insight accurately.
Move At The Speed Of Your Customers
Creating a great customer database is the beginning, not the end, of a data-driven target audience strategy. Accuracy and timeliness of data are instrumental in any successful B2B marketing effort, and that requires constant management. People change jobs and responsibilities frequently throughout their careers. Businesses grow and contract, diversify and transform. Habits change, such as working from home. Budgets come back and increase, even while supply chains might be strained. All of these factors change quickly.
A recent study by Amazon Business shows that 91% of business buyers prefer online procurement to offline, which means more chances to gather insights and data to understand your target audiences. Keep up with changing preferences and approaches to research and purchase by accessing online signals and intent data. For example, the study shows that different industries have dramatically different priorities. Government buyers are focused on supporting remote work, while health care buyers care about increasing efficiency. Each company has its own goals and requirements, while individuals bring even more nuance, from channel preferences to job moves and new responsibilities within their organization.
Understanding target audiences is an ongoing practice, combining data and modeling in order to get actionable insights. Creating a target audience strategy that’s always learning, listening and improving is the best way to keep that understanding accurate and actionable.
This article is written by Rob Sanchez and originally published here