“If you’re not putting out relevant content in relevant places, you don’t exist.” — Gary Vaynerchuk
Are you facing the content conundrum? Unfortunately, it’s something that’s all too familiar to B2B marketers.
Your potential buyers are sorting through an avalanche of content. Despite that, you need e-books, webinars and other information designed to attract leads, walk them through the buying cycle and convert sales. That means you have to build and deliver informative, entertaining information that stands out and rises to the top.
But how can you create white papers, videos and blog posts that your target audience will seek out and devour? How can you ensure your creations reach the right people at the right time so they don’t pass them by?
It’s simple. Find your prospects when they are seeking information and then offer them the answers to their questions.
Okay, I know — it may be a simple concept, however, until now it was easier said than done. But what if you knew exactly who was in the market for your product, and what they wanted to read or view?
The Internet Power Struggle
Hold that thought while we step back into Internet history to see how we arrived where we are today — sinking in a glut of content and still feeling like less of a force in the sales process than we’d like to be.
As the Internet has matured and Google has increasingly served up the answer to just about every question that has popped into our minds, B2B buyers have become more empowered. When researching for solutions to business problems, they no longer have to invite salespeople into their cubicles or corner offices. Instead, they surf the web, clicking here and there at their own pace and keeping persistent salespeople at bay.
The result is that B2B buyers are more than halfway through the buying cycle by the time they contact a salesperson. Thus, sales and marketing professionals have ceded most of their control over the early buying stages.
Luckily, to borrow a phrase from Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin’.” That transformation is courtesy of Big Data, which has spurred the creation of solutions that track B2B buyer intent. They can help you to offer “intent-based” content — the right information at the right time to the right people.
Bottom line: with today’s tools, you can know who is in the market and what will engage them, giving you the ability to serve up relevant content and increase your content ROI.
So what is intent data and why is it so exceptional?
It’s a treasure trove of information gathered from across the Internet that tells you the following:
- Who is searching for answers to questions related to your product or solution
- What they’re interested in
- How interested they are (including whether they’re more interested today than they were a month ago)
- Where they are in the buying cycle
These golden nuggets of data come from two sources, internal and external, as described below.
Internal Data: Get More Out of It
You’ve probably been using your marketing automation system to mine your internal data for years. It includes activity on your website, paid online campaigns, guest blogging and email marketing.
Now you can go further to unmask (at least partially) unknown web visitors — those who don’t tip you off by leaving their contact information. Using solutions such as Leadfeeder and Lead Forensics that track IP addresses, you’ll learn which companies are checking out your site and where they go. It’ll take a little more sleuth work to marry that information with the likely searchers from those visiting businesses.
External Data: It’s Not So Secret Anymore
Another new twist to your investigative work is the availability of external data monitored by companies like Bombora and Big Willow. Their solutions use IP addresses, user registrations, cookies and data from online publishers, such as CIO.com, to find out what topics people are looking into.
This data is your goldmine because it tells you what’s going on outside of your organization. It’s especially helpful in uncovering the previously hidden early stage of the buying cycle before buyers visit a brand’s website. In the past, you would have had no way of knowing that there was an interested party.
Raise Your ROI: Match Content to Buyer Intent
The content that people consume internally and externally helps you to understand their interests and where they are in the buying cycle. For instance, one person might read an article about “the pros and cons of cloud migration.” Another could read several blog posts and a white paper on the best cloud platforms. Based on their activity, the first person is earlier in the buying cycle, not sure if cloud migration is right for their company. The second is further along, ready to assess providers. Knowing this, you can deliver relevant ads and content offers to each of them.
In this way, intent data reveals the secrets you need to find people interested in your product category and to serve up content they’ll love. By putting the right content in front of your prospects at the right time, you can gain a competitive edge and maximize the return on the content you create.