B2B Targeting

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B2B Targeting/Audience

What is B2B Targeting?

B2B targeting is identifying your target audience - either audience segments or specific companies you want to do business with. Pretty simple concept, but deceptively challenging to do well. For any B2B marketer implementing a lead gen campaign, good targeting is vital.

A great targeting strategy informs messaging and the direction of resources and budget so you can present compelling, persuasive content to the right decision makers. Given its importance in the whole scheme of a marketing campaign, it’s a process that you’ve got to feel pretty confident in. But do you want to know a secret?

A lot of B2B marketers suspect that their targeting could be better. Even the very best marketers in the business still worry that there is an audience segment they’re not reaching as effectively as they could be.

How Do You Target a B2B Customer?

Before you can properly define your target audience, you’ll need to be able to answer the following questions with a high degree of certainty:

  • What industry are you trying to reach?
  • What major pain points does your product or service solve for them?
  • What messaging assets will most effectively cut through the noise?
  • Who, specifically, by title, are you trying to reach in your chosen industries?
  • Do the people with your preferred titles have the ability to sign off on expenditures? Or does it require a green light from someone else?
  • How long is the average sales cycle? How many touchpoints, on average, will a B2B buyer need to have with your content before they’re ready to get on a Sales call?
  • What will it take for you to be established as a thought leader in the eyes of your prospects?
  • How does what you’re offering improve upon or best what the competition is offering?
And let’s also not forget those tried and true chestnuts of traditional targeting - location, company size and revenue.

Yes, it seems like a lot of variables to consider. Because it is a lot of variables to consider. But, for argument’s sake, let’s say you did gather all that data. How do you know that your target audience is ready to buy what you’re selling?

How to Use B2B Intent Data

Intent data has recently gained traction with B2B marketers looking for a more holistic view of potential prospects. Its popularity is understandable - if you can track the signals a prospect is sending out - i.e. what websites they’re visiting or what content they’re interacting with, you’ll have a better idea of where they’re at in the sales funnel. Just make sure that you’re connecting with them at the right place in the funnel, and the sale should be easy.

But not so fast. Look at your own internet browsing activity. You recently clicked through an article on a super yachts. Does that mean that you’re in the market to buy one? Maybe you enjoy viewing slideshows on the most celebrated architectural triumphs - does that mean you’re in the market to purchase Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater?

Maybe. But more likely, not so much.

Intent data can give you a slightly more solidified picture of your buyer’s journey, but just like with traditional targeting, you’re still working with a lot of unknowns. (So you’ll be wasting a lot of ad spend to reach people who aren’t interested in what you’re selling, just to reach those select few that are.)

What about buyer personas for B2B?

Buyer personas are another approach that aims to clarify your target audience - so you can be more successful in connecting with them. The better understanding you have about who your buyer is, and the specific problems they’re trying to solve, the easier it will be to create messaging that speaks to their needs.

An additional facet to consider is that, depending on your personas, the buyer’s journey may look radically different for each of them. Before investing in a large campaign roll-out, it’s a good idea to flesh out personas that well-represent your most successful customers. You may be able to mine your existing CRM data to uncover the path that these customers took from prospect to closed-won, so you have a good idea of what content worked to peak their interest so you can build a campaign from those learnings.

Why B2B Targeting Isn’t Working For Most Marketers

Real talk. A lot of marketers are frustrated with their current targeting efforts. Despite all of the process improvements and advancements we’ve seen in marketing automation in the past decade, marketers still aren’t seeing lift. Why is that? Because a lot of B2B marketing teams still rely on outdated filmographies and NAICS codes to inform their ideal buyer persona. This isn’t to say that the exercise doesn’t have value - it does. Everything you can learn about your prospect is valuable, but there’s a problem with the underlying data.

The data isn’t good enough. Marketers don’t have easy access to the right data, and of the data available, there’s not enough of it to make well-informed decisions. Whether you’re relying on intent data or another third-party data source, your Sales team still hates your leads. Your ad spend is through the roof because you’re paying to reach a whole lot of people who will never buy, just to maybe, potentially, hopefully reach the ones who might. And you’re burning through time, resources and the goodwill of your C-Suite in the process. Yikes.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. And it’s not to say that practices like buyer personas don’t have a seat at the table. Or that firmographics are garbage. It’s just that, too often, if we strike gold with these strategies, we don’t really know how we did it. It feels lucky, rather than the result of a solid strategy. And that’s a big problem - because if you don’t know how you got to closed-won, you likely won’t be able to replicate it the next time. And it doesn’t scale.

AI for Marketing

This is where artificial intelligence comes in. Using AI, we’re able to look at enormous amounts of data to find the correlations that really do matter. This is why Facebook audiences have been so successful for B2C marketers - because Facebook has troves of data on user behavior, so they’re able to deliver lookalike audiences that are highly likely to convert.

LeadCrunch delivers lookalike audiences for B2B marketers in much the same way - by viewing an entire universe of data signals and finding the connections that indicate whether or not a company is likely to become a customer. We do this by translating a company into a vector, a numerical representation that includes dimensions like revenue growth, primary and secondary industries, job titles ratios, and other signals.

We use AI to build vectors for your most successful customers - however you define a successful customer - and then we scour our data universe to find the companies that most closely resemble those successful customers. And the result is B2B targeting that scales, for highly successful demand gen campaigns.

Whether you’re doing email marketing, cold-calling, or traditional ad campaigns - B2B marketing requires a savvy approach. Today’s buyers are educating themselves, so it’s your duty as a marketer to make sure they engage with your content at the right time in their journey.

AI for B2B audience targeting helps ensure that you know - with specific, actionable data - who is actually in market for your product or service, so you can run campaigns that deliver a ROI that impresses.

Curious to know more about using AI in marketing on your next demand gen campaign?

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