As account-based marketing (ABM) gains momentum, companies clearly see the value of identifying high-value prospects and targeting them with customized content. In the B2B marketing environment, successful ABM is the gold standard companies aim for. Achieving this requires the use of specialized tools and tactics, however, or it can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Predictive analytics is the process of mining large data sets to identify trends and patterns that help companies understand their target audiences and identify risks and opportunities. With multiple different tools to choose from, it’s difficult to find the right one for your requirements.
Benefits of Using Predictive Analytics
Deploying online content effectively to support account-based marketing is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re following the principles of inbound marketing correctly, you are likely to generate a significant amount of data from the process. Studies show that two-thirds of account-based marketers believe they have enough data – their problem is being able to draw usable insights from it. According to a 2015 report from Forrester Research, 83 percent of companies who tried using predictive analytics for insights had positive outcomes. These included:
- Ability to reach the right buyers
- Identifying and addressing new target audiences
- Evaluating new market opportunities
- Improved understanding of customers and purchasing motivations
- More successful lead qualification
The overall result was better engagement of prospects through using insights backed by science, rather than “guesswork.”
What to Look for in a Vendor
When you’re in the market for a predictive analytics tool, there are deliverables that are essential for success. Ideally, the product you use should offer:
Data from Multiple Sources
You can find big data in many walks of life, and there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel if you can make use of existing information. The more comprehensive your data, the better quality insights you’ll be able to source. Most predictive analytics vendors make use of multiple data points to help “feed” the models and forecast potential high-value accounts. These include licensed data from aggregators, website traffic, web scraping and even job listings.
Development of Customer Profiles
B2B organizations are accustomed to the idea of defining their ideal client and creating personas to inform marketing and content. A powerful predictive analytics tool takes this a step further, by using profiles to discover prospects as well as reach them. Once the analytics identify common traits among existing clients, mapping this information to external sources enables them to discover new potential clients. This offers opportunities for business expansion.
Filling the Gaps
With lead scoring based on having as much information about prospects as possible, fleshing out gaps in a customer profile delivers a level of enrichment and accuracy that can be useful determining the prospects’ position in the sales funnel. By linking data from different sources to a lead, we build a more complete view of the client and even identify relationships between various contacts.
Making it Personal
Personalization is a powerful component of account-based marketing, with content that specifically addresses the target’s business far more likely to get a response. Predictive analytics tools that integrate with other marketing and communications options give clients a better chance of reaching target audiences.
Basic reporting measures the value offered by the platform over a range of time periods. This may be sufficient for some clients, while others need sophisticated options. In such cases, the vendor needs to be able to report on issues such as the ongoing impact of marketing interactions and their effect on customers’ lifetime value to the company.
Finding the Right Platform
Identifying and selecting any software application is a combination of careful assessment, due diligence and deployment of resources using a series of steps:
Analyze Your Needs
An accurate needs analysis depends on knowing that you can use predictive analysis, and where your company is in the tool buying cycle. Unless you’re outsourcing to a knowledgeable agency that handles account-based marketing, this requires you:
- Have well-populated data systems already in operation collecting information to analyze
- Define gaps in your data that prevent you from knowing which markets ABM should approach
- Have scalable lead scoring and other marketing automation systems in place, so you can use insights turned up by the analytics effectively
- Identify staffing and financial resources needed for implementation
A current glut of vendors in the predictive analytics field can make finding a vendor high-risk, so it’s vital to begin by researching reputable vendors. Once you identify the requirements, take the time needed to get detailed proposals based on your specific situation.
Several vendors are open to trial periods or at the very least customized demonstrations, so review your options carefully. If your company outsources account-based marketing it’s advisable to include your marketers in this process, to ensure that the outcomes you envisage are feasible for them.
Our Top 5 (and Why)
Here’s a brief synopsis of our favorite predictive analytics tools, to help you identify the right one for your account-based marketing:
Founded in 2014, Bombora is a younger player on the field of predictive analytics. As an aggregator of intent data, the company is the first to source behavioral activity between B2B entities. This is gleaned from written content, web searches and online publications, based on extensive keyword listings. Bombora offers products with initiative, such as Account-Based Creative campaigns.
Recognized as one of the easier solutions to implement, Infer’s customer base includes companies like HubSpot, ZenDesk and other software service providers. Infer’s product gets good reviews from its clients and performs well in factors such as conversion rates for the middle and bottom of the funnel, and the length of sales cycles. With a starting price of around $25,000 it’s affordable for smaller companies, too.
Specializing in the processing of intent data from third party sources, 6Sense offers a predictive analytics product that handles similar large amounts of data as more established vendors. Less suited to small and medium-sized businesses, it’s a good solution for companies with 5,000 or more employees, which are in a prime position for account-based marketing.
If you’re looking for a solution beyond lead scoring that targets opportunity management, upselling and cross-selling, Mintigo is worth a look. The company collects data from a huge number of sources, which can be very useful for small business clients. It’s six-week, free proof-of-concept option equates to a high-value trial run, which customers find very useful.
Formerly a consulting operation, Lattice offers predictive solutions based on real-time scoring and sophisticated technology. Starting at around $36,000 the product is ideal for small to mid-range clients, although larger installations take longer to see results. Although the solution is recognized as being service-heavy, the company’s model performance dashboards offer users flexibility to experiment.
Making the Choice
When you’re ready to make your decision, choose a vendor who demonstrates success in a similar environment to yours. Most end-user clients have limited experience in the field, so simply getting a positive reference from a customer isn’t enough. You need to evaluate how many customers a vendor currently has, whether some of them have a similar business model to yours, and the experience and background of their teams.
Empower your account-based marketing by generating insights from your data using predictive analytics and take your B2B organization to the next level.