Finding Your Ideal Customer Prospect [Whitepaper]


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Are you having trouble targeting your ideal customer prospect? This whitepaper from B2B Magazine and Avention gives you tips and stats on locating your ideal customers.

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Finding Your Ideal Customer Prospect [Whitepaper]

  1. 1. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect In partnership with
  2. 2. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect 1 © 2014 Avention, Inc. THE CRITICAL PROCESS OF CUSTOMER PROSPECTING Developing a process by which the marketing team understands what prospects will be their best possible customers is no easy task. In particular B2B marketers face a rapidly changing world of marketing necessities, driven by a shifting array of customer and prospect research habits. That has put enormous pressure on marketing databases, which are increasingly fluid, often out of date, and in need of constant hygiene and improvement. In scrambling to keep up with the times, many marketers focus on new, cutting- edge channels to reach out to prospects and customers, such as social media or mobile, or the dynamic world of retargeting and programmatic advertising. But the consensus is much more basic: Those marketers who focus on the best prospecting databases have an enormous advantage over those who don’t. Further, finding the “ideal” prospect in that database often means understanding what makes for an ideal customer in the first place, and mapping this profile onto the identification of possible new customers. CONTENTS 1. Essential action items 2. A changing world and marketing’s response 3. Coping with challenges, obstacles 4. What this means for marketers 5. Notes & resources ✓ Methodology ✓ Contributors ✓ About BtoB ✓ About Avention In partnership with
  3. 3. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect 2 © 2014 Avention, Inc. ESSENTIAL ACTION ITEMS There are several essential action items that inform this report, that transformative marketers intent on success are focused on doing. They include: 1. Determine what’s essential. Marketing has many roles, and it is imperative that these involve activities that lead to revenue and sales. Database accuracy, analysis, segmentation, targeting and appropriate lead scoring will lead to revenue growth. 2. Make sales your partner. For many companies, the key prospecting database resides in their CRM systems. These are generally overseen by sales, making the imperative for sales-marketing alignment even greater. In working with sales, marketing can better determine what a “prospect” means, and develop methods for finding and nurturing them for ultimate handoff to sales reps. 3. Think revenue. For far too long marketing has been considered a cost center, rather than a generator of organizational wealth. This does not have to be the case any longer. Marketers should focus on cultivating leads that convert, and work with sales to make conversions happen. Meld your goals to revenue, not processes. Consider what marketing is all about: contributing to the bottom line, and making the company successful. Marketers can help make marketing a revenue producing center and not a cost center, to benefit the company and extend the influence of marketing.
  4. 4. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect 3 © 2014 Avention, Inc. A CHANGING WORLD AND MARKETING’S REPSONSE Marketers are keenly aware that their professional world has changed dramatically over the past several years, and this transformation is having a profound impact on lead generation and prospecting. Overwhelmingly, marketers indicate that the rapid changes in marketing technology, Big Data necessities, and such new channels as social media and mobile have created a marketing world unlike any in the past (Figure 1). This has been matched, or exceeded, by the changing ways prospects and customers consider with whom to do business. Figure 1 How has the world of marketing changed over the past 5 years. Two of the biggest changes in prospecting are due to the vast amount of online information available to decision makers, and the associated shift of power away from the brand and toward the customer. In response, marketers are placing ever-greater emphasis on content marketing as a subtle means of impacting that decision-making process throughout the buyer’s journey—content to nurture leads, and later to accelerate them. To effect this adequately, marketers agree that appropriate technology is essential to handle the mass of data available (Figure 2). Slightly, or not at all Moderately. We’re adjusting to buyer demands. Very much. The world has shifted. Completely. Everything has changed. Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect N=323, 2013 Source: BtoB
  5. 5. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect 4 © 2014 Avention, Inc. Figure 2 Areas of greatest impact on marketing departments and programs It is clear from the findings above that marketers are concerned about the sheer amount of information available to decision makers from all sources, and that it will overwhelm their own messages and drown out their presence in the marketplace. In response, marketers agree, marketing technology at the service of content distribution—at the right time, to the right person—will help overcome this issue. As seen above, it is noteworthy, however, that seeking a better marketing liaison with sales falls far down the list … better sales- marketing alignment (24.6%) and the necessity of supplying sales with appropriate content (20.0%) are not viewed as important factors of change, compared with other shifts in the marketing landscape. How are marketers adjusting to these massive changes, and what obstacles do they see as impeding their efforts? Change for change’s sake—even when addressing challenges—doesn’t address the main issue, which is determining exactly where the holes in prospecting for leads exist, and plugging those holes. Identifying obstacles to success is a valuable first step (Figure 3). Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect N=323, 2013 Source: BtoB A focus on change and processes may not address the holes in the prospecting process, and how to plug the gaps.
  6. 6. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect 5 © 2014 Avention, Inc. COPING WITH CHALLENGES, OBSTACLES Figure 3 The most important obstacles in reaching out to prospects As seen, 51.1% of marketers said they’re scrambling to improve the depth and accuracy of their databases. Other areas that are challenging to marketers in gaining a handle on prospecting include the lack of database technologies (37.9%), the understanding of prospect personas (33.3%), the inability to find good sources of data (30.5%) and— significantly—having little sense of how to identify the “ideal” current customer. Doing so, in many respects, will help map onto the best types of prospects available. It might be surprising to some to see such strong concern about the lack of database strength, since this has been a considerable concern for some time. The assessment of marketers in this study reiterates that without a powerful database, the competitive advantages gained by focusing on particular channels will not be effective. Most Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect N=323, 2013 Source: BtoB Marketers are working to improve the depth and accuracy of their databases, while targeting prospect personas.
  7. 7. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect 6 © 2014 Avention, Inc. respondents to BtoB’s survey—52.6%—said they could improve their database marketing efforts by segmenting it better, scoring prospects well, targeting them with appropriate messages and qualifying them for the sales team (Figure 4). Figure 4 The most pressing changes needed to improve database marketing Other solutions include improving data hygiene (35.4%), gaining real-time knowledge about prospects’ business events (32.6%), appending new intelligence to current contacts (28.6%), and analyzing multiple touch points leading to a sale (25.7%), among others. The bottom line for many marketers remains the lack of hard metrics, and not being able to attribute incremental revenue directly to their programs. In fact, most survey respondents suffer under the apprehension that their marketing departments are generally or completely considered merely cost centers within their own companies, and not revenue- producing growth centers. Just 25% of marketers said they can attribute specific marketing efforts to conversions and sales, and only 7.7% of marketers said their analytics show that revenue is attributable to marketing. Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect N=323, 2013 Source: BtoB The lack of hard metrics, plus lack of attribution to conversions, hamper many marketers. Better segmentation, targeting, scoring and qualifying of prospects Improve quality and relevance of database Improve data hygiene, removing inactive, inaccurate contacts Gain real-time knowledge of prospects’ business events Append current contacts with actionable info Better understand the buyer’s journey Analyze multiple touch points leading to a sale Improve the size of our database Implement better technology solutions
  8. 8. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect 7 © 2014 Avention, Inc. A major pain point for marketers is not being able to identify their best customers, and the inability to map this profile to prospects. With all the innovations in tools and analytics, social marketing, operations, content, product marketing, etc., marketers need a better understanding of profiling customers to understand their ideal prospect. Developing profiles and personas differs depending on the goal. In prospecting the focus might be on identifying buyers, decision makers, pain points and what products will help those pain points. A retention marketer might explore ideal profiles within the CRM database, and expand it by adding other key account contacts. Whatever the goal, a keen eye to existing customers is essential. Among these, 63.0% of marketers said loyalty and repeat business defines the “ideal” customer. Other qualities of good customers include high lifetime value (49.1%); their recommendations to others (45.7%); their acceptance by sales as a lead (38.2%); and their quicker conversion rates (20.8%) (Figure 5). Figure 5 Effective ways to measure current customers, to ID the “ideal” prospect Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect N=323, 2013 Source: BtoB A major pain point for marketers is not being able to identify their best customers, in order to find similar prospects.
  9. 9. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect 8 © 2014 Avention, Inc. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR MARKETERS ■ Embrace change. There is no purpose in marketers rejecting change. They need to embrace it, accept the need for sophisticated technology, and acknowledge new ways to identify promising prospects that map well onto existing customer personas. ■ Elevate information. Marketing technology is a means to an end, but not an end in itself. Analysis fuels technology, with its ability to parse database information, append fields who are lacking, segment prospects appropriately, and home in on those prospects that are most likely to convert quickly and become loyal customers. In particular, real-time information—delivered as it happens—can offer sales and marketing teams great leverage in converting prospects. ■ Amplify marketing’s impact. Marketing often is still considered a cost center in organizations, not a generator of sales and revenue. When done well—when marketing embraces the changing world they swim in—they can demonstrate they are a revenue generator, not merely a cost center. It can be argued that marketing is the greatest source of wealth of any department in any organization. Marketers must embrace this, and find ways to demonstrate it. ■ Embrace prospecting. Far too often marketing cedes the prospecting and lead- generation task to sales. Culprits here may be an excessive focus on branding efforts, or an inordinate concentration on trending channels such as social media and mobile. A solution is to liaise with sales to embrace the prospecting task; to work with the sales team to identify their best customers; and to develop a plan to find prospects that exhibit qualities that are most likely to convert and become profitable. ■ Sales, sales and more sales. Don’t get caught up in a metrics maze. Yes, marketers want their marketing automation package and database analysis to improve clicks, opens, bounces, etc. The bottom line, however, is improved lead gen, shortened sales cycles, increased revenue and better customer retention. Keep your eye on the (real) prize, and develop your database and prospecting efforts accordingly. ■ Get real. Extend the time and energy you estimate to spend on implementing technology, analysis and prospecting, and set expectations with management and sales. The investment will pay off handsomely for marketers who push their performance and skill to levels never before possible.
  10. 10. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect 9 © 2014 Avention, Inc. NOTES & RESOURCES Methodology BtoB’s study is based on a survey of 323 business marketers conducted in November 2013. Of those, 63.7% were from companies with less than $50 million in annual revenue, while 17.7% reported annual revenue of $1 billion and more. Technology companies predominated, at 17.7% of all respondents, with financial services, consulting, nontechnical and medical/pharmaceutical companies also represented. Contributors ✓ Christopher Hosford, East Coast Bureau Chief, BtoB: ✓ James Rogers, CMO, Avention:
  11. 11. BtoB Research Insights Finding the Ideal Customer Prospect 10 © 2014 Avention, Inc. About The Ad Age Group The Ad Age Group is the leading source of news, intelligence and conversation for the global marketing and media community. Ongoing coverage of strategic topics like CMO strategies and data-driven marketing is complemented by breaking news on digital, social media and more. The 83-year-old media group incorporates premium content from Advertising Age, Creativity and BtoB, produces more than 15 original rankings each year, holds exclusive conferences and other gatherings, and offers the most in-depth, comprehensive data and insight services in the marketing and media industry. Advertising and editorial offices—711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 • 212-210-0100 • website: Corporate headquarters—1155 Gratiot Avenue, Detroit, MI 48207 • 313-446-6000 • website: About Avention Avention, Inc., formerly OneSource Information Services, provides real-time, actionable B2B data from the world’s most comprehensive database to deliver 21 st century business information solutions. Avention empowers sales, marketing and research professionals with the best global B2B data available and leverages that data with its cutting-edge software. Through four key capabilities—Conceptual Search℠, Business Signals℠, Ideal Profiles℠ and SmartLists℠— users find leads, market segments and business insights that can’t be found anywhere else. Headquartered in Concord, MA with offices across North America, Europe and APAC, Avention has more than 4,000 customers worldwide. Visit and follow us on Twitter @AventionInc.