Does Marketing Have an Account Intelligence Problem?
You need to know a little something about your audience so you can identify likely prospects and craft meaningful messages, campaigns, and communications that will resonate.
In today’s B2B environment, marketers have access to increasing volumes and types of data to get smarter about their target accounts and contacts. But there are different ways to get account intelligence; it’s important to understand the differences and trade-offs so you can make the right investments that will have a meaningful impact to your business.
There are a lot of technology platforms on the market.
While each one has a slightly different focus and entry point into the overall marketing and sales continuum (ABM, digital advertising, sales prospecting, and on and on) what they all have in common is that they use third- and/or first-party data and AI to predict who is likely to be in-market for a solution and understand what they care about. These platforms are the “shiny new toys” of account intelligence and garner the most buzz in the industry. Their big promise is that they can enable marketers to execute highly targeted campaigns and sales plays at scale.
If you want to go the platform route, you need to keep the following in mind. Platforms are expensive and they’re a consequential addition to the martech stack. They take time to set up and configure, and then to roll out and train people how to use them. You’re also limited to the third- and/or first-party data that’s available, which may or may not provide you with the exact information you want. If there are certain pieces of information that you can’t get, you can look for proxies to fill those gaps, but this requires you to make assumptions and it can reduce the relevance of the platform’s output.
Another question is whether you can actually execute at scale.
A recent article examined this question as it relates to account-based marketing and concluded that the answer, more often than not, is no.
All of this does not mean that technology platforms aren’t worth investing in. They can absolutely help you crunch big volumes of data to identify trends and predict behaviors to make sense of the potential market. But you need a source of high-quality account intelligence while the platform is being rolled out. Then, on an ongoing basis, it’s worth considering supplementing with custom account intelligence, particularly to identify and engage with the highest-value subset of your target accounts.
Another way to acquire account intelligence is through custom research, which can be performed in house or as an outsourced service.
Either way, this is a time-intensive effort that is difficult to scale. You may only get a small handful, or even just one or two, account profiles at a time. The economic advantage with this approach, particularly in the case of outsourced research, is that you don’t have to make a large up-front investment. However, while it’s custom in that you can provide a wish list of information you’d like to get, this type of research typically relies on public sources such as websites, annual reports, CEO statements, etc. As a result, just like with technology platforms, you’re limited to the information that’s available and that anyone—including your competitors—can find.
Additionally, what’s available will differ by company, so the information you get can be wildly inconsistent from account to account. And finally, account profiles are typically delivered as unstructured PDFs or PowerPoint documents with a combination of text, graphics, and screen shots so there’s no way to easily integrate the information into any of the systems that marketing and sales teams use to execute on a daily basis.
There is another option. BAO’s Opportunity Identification (OppID) service delivers no-compromise account intelligence.
Unlike platforms, there’s no up-front investment required, nor does it lock you into a long-term deployment or add to your already complex martech stack. You get exactly the intel you want and setup is minimal—simply create your account list and the questions you want answers to. OppID is great for organizations that need scale but aren’t ready to make an enterprise-grade platform investment. For those who do have a platform in place, it’s a perfect complement to enrich its output, and even identify valuable opportunities that it can miss.
And unlike custom research, OppID quickly delivers consistent and truly custom information across a large number of target accounts. The profiles include the precise information you want, not conclusions based on analysis of the same publicly available information that your competitors are looking at. And the data is delivered in a way that makes it easy to import into virtually any system in your martech stack so you can ensure it actually gets used.