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The state of intent data in 2023 and beyond

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The state of intent data in 2023 and beyond

In B2B sales and marketing, intent has become an essential ingredient as salt and pepper are in cooking. You wholeheartedly believe it is required in every recipe, but you’re not always sure of the right amount or when to apply it.

With our increasing reliance on intent data and its broadening definition, now is a good time to assess the state of intent and plan on what might be ahead.

I tapped into a group of trusted B2B marketers to gain perspective on all things intent. In this article, we will: 

  • Sprinkle in knowledge gained from a recent roundtable with B2B marketing leaders on the data, tools and processes used in sales and marketing account-based go-to-market (GTM) motions. 
  • Get a broad view from three savvy data and intent executives who have seen a few things in building Michelin-rated worthy GTM strategies

Together, we can capture a snapshot of intent’s current state, understand the challenges and opportunities and preview what should be on the menu going forward. 

What is the number one value proposition of intent in today’s GTM efforts? 

Marketing is playing a larger, more proactive role in the buying-selling process. With B2B buyers and buying teams spending more time doing their research online and through peer networks, sales has less access to buyers. 

This big shift has thrust intent into the spotlight to identify and prioritize the right accounts to reach out to based on account and buyer behavior and, in turn, catapulting outbound sales and outreach as today’s number one intent use case. 

Mike Burton, co-founder and head of commercial sales at intent industry pioneer Bombora, puts it this way:

“Because sales sit so close to revenue, intent data can galvanize action and increase sales productivity. This sales use case has a compound effect making other GTM functions more impactful including demand gen, SDRs and field marketers.”

Orchestrated timing between sales and marketing still remains a significant challenge, largely because of the data, tech and process silos that exist across departments.

Intent data is being relied on to integrate GTM motions and define roles across functions helping sales and marketing stay in sync and to identify the best opportunity accounts at the right time. 

Kerry Cunningham, director of research at revenue technology leader 6Sense, shares:

“Most buyers are researching your solution and don’t know your company or solution exists. Here’s the reality — you lose 100% of the deals you don’t compete for. The goal is to never miss an opportunity when your solution can solve a customer problem or fill a need.

Intent plays an essential role in exposing account timing and need to prioritize account and buyer engagement.”

Dig deeper: How to leverage intent and engagement in the buying cycle

What can GTM leaders do now to get more value from intent signals?

Sales and marketing teams are not leveraging intent to its full value or potential yet. 

Beyond account identification and prioritization (timing), more GTM teams are starting to apply intent to identify and align buyer and account needs with contextual content and messaging. 

David Crane, VP of portfolio marketing and marketing chief of staff at intent aggregator Intentsify, says:

“If we boil down all the use cases across all the GTM functions that leverage intent data, the common denominator is efficiency.

“Rather than marketers, BDRs, sales pros and customer success reps having to spend valuable time and effort to understand buyers’ specific needs and pains, they can gain insights directly from intent signals.

“Done right, GTM teams can quickly supply buyers with the information they want (e.g., content, creative assets, talk tracks) when they need it.”

As more GTM teams adopt account-based tools and more effectively use their websites to implement and manage ABM programs, intent’s value is increasing. 

More than a quarter of an ABM platform’s value is the intent data it generates to use in sales and marketing activities, according to Gartner.

When intent powers ABM tools and an organization’s webpages and these components are used together, marketers highlight the increased intelligence they can put to work resulting in higher conversions to sales opportunity and revenue. 

Cunningham emphatically states:

“The most valuable signals we don’t pay attention to are on your website. Only 3% of visitors fill out forms, so relying on this tactic is futile. Rather, deanonymizing traffic and using intent is the key to unlocking immediate opportunity. GTM teams need to harvest this info otherwise, you will waste all that marketing and sales time and effort.”

Dig deeper: Using intent as a unit of B2B campaign measurement

With the changing B2B buying-selling landscape, experts highlight that to get more value out of intent data investment, we must:

  • Focus on where and how to apply intent during the GTM process.
  • Collapse data and functional silos that leave big gaps. 

Bombora’s Burton cites two areas in his work across more than 650 customers: 

“The first is using intent for strategic planning. This means understanding what is happening across different cohorts of your total available market (TAM) and where your target accounts are in their buying stages.

The second is augmentation of first-party anonymous data, especially as third-party data becomes scarcer. We see leading organizations creating a first-party data mart and augmenting it with intent data. Having this info appended allows for precision targeting at scale.”

Crane weighs in on what he is seeing across a rapidly growing Intentsify customer base: 

“First, GTM teams and the data science and ops teams that support them, need to get better about baking intent data into their GTM strategies from the start. Today, intent data is treated more like an after-market component that individual roles use but don’t always share across functions.

Secondly, GTM teams need to improve how they convert intent signals into actionable insights as well as their processes for quickly acting on those insights while the data is still relevant. These challenges are likely a consequence of difficulty in effectively leveraging multiple intent data sources, which we see more and more B2B teams focused on solving.”

Intent as marketing’s essential ingredient in GTM strategy

Intent data is seeing an unprecedented rate of adoption as B2B GTM teams focus on:

  • Efficiency and productivity internally.
  • Customer experience and engagement with buyers and accounts externally.

While outbound sales are the top use case today for intent as noted by our experts, we’re seeing marketing teams be the driver of activation. As Cunningham succinctly summarizes:

“Marketing’s job is to ensure organizations never miss out on an opportunity to compete for a deal; this is how marketing becomes indispensable!”


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.



About The Author

Scott VaughanScott Vaughan

Scott Vaughan is a B2B CMO and go-to-market leader. After several CMO and business leadership roles, Scott is now an active advisor and consultant working with CMO, CXOs, Founders, and investors on business, marketing, product, and GTM strategies. He thrives in the B2B SaaS, tech, marketing, and revenue world.

His passion is fueled by working in-market to create new levels of business and customer value for B2B organizations. His approach is influenced and driven by his diverse experience as a marketing leader, revenue driver, executive, market evangelist, speaker, and writer on all things marketing, technology, and business. He is drawn to disruptive solutions and to dynamic companies that need to transform.

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3 Smart Bidding Strategies To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Google Ads

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3 Smart Bidding Strategies To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Google Ads

Now that we’ve officially settled into the new year, it’s important to reiterate that among the most effective ways to promote your business are Google Ads. Not only do Google Ads increase your brand visibility, but they also make it easier for you to sell your services and products while generating more traffic to your website.

The thing about Google Ads, though, is that setting up (and running) a Google Ads campaign isn’t easy – in fact, it’s pretty beginner-unfriendly and time-consuming. And yet, statistically speaking, no platform does what Google Ads can do when it comes to audience engagement and outreach. Therefore, it will be beneficial to learn about and adopt some smart bidding strategies that can help you get the most out of your Google Ads.

To that end, let’s check out a few different bidding strategies you can put behind your Google Ads campaigns, how these strategies can maximize the results of your Google Ads, and the biggest benefits of each strategy.

Smart bidding in Google Ads: what does it mean, anyway?

Before we cover the bidding strategies that can get the most out of your Google Ads, let’s define what smart bidding means. Basically, it lets Google Ads optimize your bids for you. That doesn’t mean that Google replaces you when you leverage smart bidding, but it does let you free up time otherwise spent on keeping track of the when, how, and how much when bidding on keywords.

The bidding market is simply too big – and changing too rapidly – for any one person to keep constant tabs on it. There are more than 5.5 billion searches that Google handles every day, and most of those searches are subject to behind-the-scenes auctions that determine which ads display based on certain searches, all in a particular order.

That’s where smart bidding strategies come in: they’re a type of automated bidding strategy to generate more conversions and bring in more money, increasing your profits and cash flow. Smart bidding is your way of letting Google Ads know what your goals are (a greater number of conversions, a goal cost per conversion, more revenue, or a better ROAS), after which Google checks what it’s got on file for your current conversion data and then applies that data to the signals it gets from its auctions.

Types of smart bidding strategies

Now that you know what smart bidding in Google Ads is and why it’s important, let’s cover the best smart bidding strategies you can use to your advantage.

Maximize your conversions

The goal of this strategy is pretty straightforward: maximize your conversions and get the most out of your budget’s allocation toward said conversions. Your conversions, be they a form submission, a customer transaction, or a simple phone call, are something valuable that you want to track and, of course, maximize.

The bottom line here is simply generating the greatest possible number of conversions for your budget. This strategy can potentially become costly, so remember to keep an eye on your cost-per-click and how well your spending is staying inside your budget.

If you want to be extra vigilant about keeping conversion costs in a comfy range, you can define a CPA goal for your maximize conversions strategy (assuming you’ve got this feature available).

Target cost per acquisition

The purpose behind this strategy is to meet or surpass your cost-per-acquisition objective that’s tied to your daily budget. When it comes to this strategy, it’s important to determine what your cost-per-acquisition goal is for the strategy you’re pursuing.

In most cases, your target cost per acquisition goal will be similar to the 30-day average you’ve set for your Google Ads campaign. Even if this isn’t going to be your end-all-be-all CPA goal, you’ll want to use this as a starting point.

You’ll have lots of success by simply leveraging target cost per acquisition on a campaign-by-campaign basis, but you can take this one step further by creating a single tCPA bid strategy that you share between every single one of your campaigns. This makes the most sense when running campaigns with identical CPA objectives. That’s because you’ll be engaging with a bidding strategy that’s fortified with a lot of aggregate data from which Google’s algorithm can draw, subsequently endowing all of your campaigns with some much-needed experience.

Maximize clicks

As its name implies, this strategy centers around ad optimization to gain as many clicks as possible based on your budget. We recommend using the maximize clicks strategy if you’re trying to drive more traffic to your website. The best part? Getting this strategy off the ground is about as easy as it gets.

All you need to do to get started with maximizing clicks is settle on a maximum cost-per-click that you then earmark. Once that’s done, you can decide how much money you want to shell out every time you pay for a bid. You don’t actually even need to specify an amount per bid since Google will modify your bids for you to maximize your clicks automatically.

Picture this: you’ve got a website you’re running and want to drive more traffic to it. You decide to set your maximum bid per click at $2.5. Google looks at your ad, adjusts it to $3, and automatically starts driving more clicks per ad (and more traffic to your site), all without ever going over the budget you set for your Google Ads campaign.

Conclusion

If you’ve been using manual bidding until now, you probably can’t help but admit that you spend way too much time wrangling with it. There are plenty of other things you’d rather be – and should be – spending your time on. Plus, bids change so quickly that trying to keep up with them manually isn’t even worth it anymore.

Thankfully, you’ve now got a better grasp on automated and smart bidding after having read through this article, and you’re aware of some important options you have when it comes to strategies for automated bidding. Now’s a good time to explore even more Google Ads bidding strategies and see which ones make the most sense when it comes to your unique and long-term business objectives. Settle on a strategy and then give it a whirl – you’ll only know whether a strategy is right for you after you’ve tested it time and time again. Good luck!

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

The world survived the first three months of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

But what are marketers doing now? Did your brand follow the shift Dennis Shiao made for his personal brand? As he recently shared, he switched his primary platform from Twitter to LinkedIn after the 2022 ownership change. (He still uses Twitter but posts less frequently.)

Are those brands that altered their strategy after the new ownership maintaining that plan? What impact do Twitter’s service changes (think Twitter Blue subscriptions) have?

We took those questions to the marketing community. No big surprise? Most still use Twitter. But from there, their responses vary from doing nothing to moving away from the platform.

Lowest points

At the beginning of the Elon era, more than 500 big-name advertisers stopped buying from the platform. Some (like Amazon and Apple) resumed their buys before the end of 2022. Brand accounts’ organic activity seems similar.

In November, Emplifi research found a 26% dip in organic posting behavior by U.S. and Canadian brands the week following a significant spike in the negative sentiment of an Elon tweet. But that drop in posting wasn’t a one-time thing.

Kyle Wong, chief strategy officer at Emplifi, shares a longer analysis of well-known fast-food brands. When comparing December 2021 to December 2022 activity, the brands posted 74% less, and December was the least active month of 2022.

Fast-food brands posted 74% less on @Twitter in December 2022 than they did in December 2021, according to @emplifi_io analysis via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

When Emplifi analyzed brand accounts across industries (2,330 from U.S. and Canada and 6,991 elsewhere in the world), their weekly Twitter activity also fell to low points in November and December. But by the end of the year, their activity was inching up.

“While the percentage of brands posting weekly is on the rise once again, the number is still lower than the consistent posting seen in earlier months,” Kyle says.

Quiet-quitting Twitter

Lacey Reichwald, marketing manager at Aha Media Group, says the company has been quiet-quitting Twitter for two months, simply monitoring and posting the occasional link. “It seems like the turmoil has settled down, but the overall impact of Twitter for brands has not recovered,” she says.

@ahamediagroup quietly quit @Twitter for two months and saw their follower count go up, says Lacey Reichwald via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

She points to their firm’s experience as a potential explanation. Though they haven’t been posting, their follower count has gone up, and many of those new follower accounts don’t seem relevant to their topic or botty. At the same time, Aha Media saw engagement and follows from active accounts in the customer segment drop.

Blue bonus

One change at Twitter has piqued some brands’ interest in the platform, says Dan Gray, CEO of Vendry, a platform for helping companies find agency partners to help them scale.

“Now that getting a blue checkmark is as easy as paying a monthly fee, brands are seeing this as an opportunity to build thought leadership quickly,” he says.

Though it remains to be seen if that strategy is viable in the long term, some companies, particularly those in the SaaS and tech space, are reallocating resources to energize their previously dormant accounts.

Automatic verification for @TwitterBlue subscribers led some brands to renew their interest in the platform, says Dan Gray of Vendry via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

These reenergized accounts also are seeing an increase in followers, though Dan says it’s difficult to tell if it’s an effect of the blue checkmark or their renewed emphasis on content. “Engagement is definitely up, and clients and agencies have both noted the algorithm seems to be favoring their content more,” he says.

New horizon

Faizan Fahim, marketing manager at Breeze, is focused on the future. They’re producing videos for small screens as part of their Twitter strategy. “We are guessing soon Elon Musk is going to turn Twitter into TikTok/YouTube to create more buzz,” he says. “We would get the first moving advantage in our niche.”

He’s not the only one who thinks video is Twitter’s next bet. Bradley Thompson, director of marketing at DigiHype Media and marketing professor at Conestoga College, thinks video content will be the next big thing. Until then, text remains king.

“The approach is the same, which is a focus on creating and sharing high-quality content relevant to the industry,” Bradley says. “Until Twitter comes out with drastically new features, then marketing and managing brands on Twitter will remain the same.

James Coulter, digital marketing director at Sole Strategies, says, “Twitter definitely still has a space in the game. The question is can they keep it, or will they be phased out in favor of a more reliable platform.”

Interestingly given the thoughts of Faizan and Bradley, James sees businesses turning to video as they limit their reliance on Twitter and diversify their social media platforms. They are now willing to invest in the resource-intensive format given the exploding popularity of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other short-form video content.

“We’ve seen a really big push on getting vendors to help curate video content with the help of staff. Requesting so much media requires building a new (social media) infrastructure, but once the expectations and deliverables are in place, it quickly becomes engrained in the weekly workflow,” James says.

What now

“We are waiting to see what happens before making any strong decisions,” says Baruch Labunski, CEO at Rank Secure. But they aren’t sitting idly by. “We’ve moved a lot of our social media efforts to other platforms while some of these things iron themselves out.”

What is your brand doing with Twitter? Are you stepping up, stepping out, or standing still? I’d love to know. Please share in the comments.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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