An area of martech that is returning to prominence is signal and intent information gleaned from off-site (or un-owned) behaviors of audience members. This resurgence is partially due to the growth of Account Based Marketing as well as applications of Adtech to demand generation needs. One of the leaders in this space is TechTarget, a top provider of technology product content and intent information.
Recently, I spoke with the team at there including John Steinert, CMO and his colleagues: Josh Garland, VP of Product Marketing and Ben Bradley, Director of Client Consulting. Our conversation included details of their Priority Engine™ service and their partnership with DiscoverOrg.
Josh: What are some of the ways your clients are leveraging high resolution behavior and driver data with Sales?
Ben Bradley (TT): There are a variety of ways sales teams can use high resolution data to enhance their outreach and drive faster paths to revenue. With TechTarget specifically, the Priority Engine™ tool gives direct and highly-flexible access to the information present in high resolution data.
The most common use of this data for sales is for reps to use the account RANKING ability built into to understand WHICH accounts to engage and WHEN – refreshed with new activity every week. The tool also provides contacts, so they know WHO to engage.
At the account level, the intent data shows exactly what the account is researching – the topics, the vendors, etc… — so Sales can understand specific pain points and entry points and personalize their outreach (from here it is easy to find the specific assets being consumed as well). Through our partnership with HG Data we also include install base information.
For example, in 90 seconds, I can find the account I want to call, identify what matters to them, and tailor my pitch to their needs and preferences. Further, our new DiscoverOrg partnership exposes relevant contacts to a specific deal that may not be exhibiting intent but are typically associated with such a purchase.
There are a number of other ways reps can use the data we provide. A core capability in the tool is the ability to load a Named Account List. This can be any list of accounts (territory, industry, closed/lost, customers, ABM lists, etc.). After a list is uploaded, the Priority Engine rankings will change to reflect only the accounts that match the list. This can be a huge value, because while named accounts offer more focus, at any given point and time, only a small set of your target accounts will actually be in market. Priority Engine will identify the accounts from your list that are in market right now.
Additionally, through our Qualified Sales Opportunities service, we provide full purchase intent insight about fully verified deals within specific technology segments. Every Qualified Sales Opportunity is a report detailing an upcoming technology purchase we have verified with someone on the buying team and includes the following sales intelligence:
- Top drivers for the purchase
- Product feature criteria
- Vendors being considered
- How the account plans to use the new technology
- Current tech install
- Project insider contact info
- Reformatted reports give sales teams the keys to landing appointments
- Suggested “icebreakers” and calling guidance
This service helps sales teams increase appointment rates by focusing on accounts with confirmed projects together with a “blueprint” of actual deal requirements and guidance (sales enablement) on how to engage in order to win the deal.
Josh: What are some of the ways your clients are leveraging high resolution behavior and driver data with Marketers?
Ben Bradley (TT): We generally see that there are five roles within in an organization who use the high-resolution behavior and purchase driver data from Priority Engine. Sales is one of those teams, which we just talked about, the other three generally fall into the broader Marketing organization. On the marketing side, we have the other four teams: Demand Generation, Marketing Ops, Field/Channel, and Product.
- Demand Generation is the most common and fastest growing user group, and the most common use case is building content marketing lists to generate MQLs. Demand Marketers use the account data, ranking data, and contact level data to deploy nurture streams to these accounts/contacts and produce MQLs. In short, they pull the most active accounts/contacts researching a given topic each week and act on them in very specific ways according to the nurture stream.
There are many variations of how you can deploy the active contacts into nurture. Our data can be segmented using many variables and this sophisticated segmentation capability creates opportunities to pursue a host of use cases. Priority Engine subscriptions begin at a top-level segment of the enterprise tech space, e.g. Endpoint Security. You can then dig deeper into subtopics within endpoint security around what the desired accounts are researching most (IE Android Malware, Botnet, Intrusion Detection, etc.). With this very granular topical capability, an advanced marketer can deploy highly segmented nurture streams focused on continuous engagement or highly focused conversion drivers based on specific behaviors.Additional segmentation occurs around which vendors target accounts are researching, verticals, company sizes, install base, and what level of engagement they have with a customer’s brand. And these in turn spawn new opportunities around use case ideas/messaging ideas, from competitive conquesting, to vertical marketing plays.
- Priority Engine gives Field/Channel users the ability to segment the audience based on location to help support event recruitment and related highly-geographic efforts. This use case has been a particularly strong asset for teams in EMEA, where regional events remain very popular. With the named account feature we have seen teams load a list of booth visitors post-event to help prioritize follow up efforts. Alternatively, you can support geo-specific field marketing efforts with this feature. Another common use case of this group is to help support channel partner efforts by providing them target lists of accounts to focus on based on active demand. If you have a channel partner focused on a vertical (or geo), you can pull (or automatically push) weekly lists of top ranked accounts to supply them.
- Marketing Operations is another user group that has seen success with Priority Engine. The use cases here are a bit less intuitive, but when applied it can be really powerful. Perhaps the most common use case is loading a named or active account list. In this case, loading a list of accounts that have visited your website for appending with actionable prospects. With Priority Engine, you can add to the depth of insight you have on your website visitors and you can augment a visiting account with more prospects that may not have come inbound to you. You can see the entire buying team and also rank the accounts visiting by their activity on the TechTarget network to get better insight into who to prioritize. Marketing Operations teams are also realizing that their scoring methodology can be much more productive when 3rd party insights are layered in (see the related webcast we did with SiriusDecisions). Many marketers use Priority Engine to augment or even override the scoring that is occurring within their own inbound or outbound activities.
- Product marketers use all three of TechTarget’s IT Deal Alert intent-based offerings – our buyer pre- and post research (also used by other strategic players in the org), Priority Engine for targeting, content effectiveness, competitive insight, messaging/positioning and our Qualified Sales Opportunities for deep insight into consideration rates, win/loss, more buyer’s journey analysis, etc.
These are just some of the ways different teams or users from inside an organization can use the high-resolution behavior and data from Priority Engine and the ITDA family as a whole. There are more, which we can discuss in more detail and even customize based on a sales/marketing needs.
Josh: A few weeks ago, DiscoverOrg and RainKing anncounced a partnership, and then TechTarget made them a core component of PriorityEngine™. Help me understand more about the new partnership.
John Steinert (TT): Priority Engine already delivers direct, real-time access to the most active accounts and named prospects conducting purchase research. We do this across hundreds of market segments and within key geographies. With the integration of DiscoverOrg’s trusted contact data, we are able to expand coverage of key stakeholders and buyers who are involved in the final purchase decision at target accounts. The combination of TechTarget’s insights into account purchase intent and active prospect activity and DiscoverOrg’s deep reach into an account’s extended buying team in one unified solution is very powerful for our customers because it provides the opportunity to make large productivity gains by reducing the number of accounts and contacts to those who really matter.
These new enhancements to Priority Engine accelerate sales conversions by providing more of the essential information that B2B sales people need to penetrate and drive engagement with accounts that are truly in an active buyer’s journey. The platform provides direct access to buyers at the right time by ranking accounts based on various purchase intent intensity attributes within their very specific technology segment. It helps the sales team focus on the accounts that matter most and, critical to effectiveness, it helps them identify and reach the essential Target Buying Team involved in the purchase, including active researchers and relevant stakeholders. With enhanced title coverage inside the account and rich behavioral insight to personalize outreach, sales teams are able to convert prospects into customers at a higher rate.
As part of this partnership, TechTarget-only customers (those without a DiscoverOrg license already) will be able to access up to 10 Recommended Contacts from DiscoverOrg per account, selected according to title/role relevance and seniority at no additional cost. TechTarget customers who already subscribe to DiscoverOrg will have unlimited access to DiscoverOrg’s entire database of contacts at the accounts Priority Engine identifies as being in-market. With improved audience targeting, deeper sales intelligence and new insights, our customers can achieve vastly improved ROI for ABM, demand generation and sales enablement.
Josh: How do you help potential clients understand how TechTarget is different than Paid content? Why not invest in Owned content promotion?
John Steinert (TT): TechTarget is the leading content provider for enterprise technology buyers. It is the behavior of the registered users on our 140+ independent editorial sites that generate our exclusive intent data. The usefulness of this content for purchase decisions is what continues to build our membership and helps us identify when and where technology projects are happening. Our enterprise tech vendor customers understand that it’s our independent content and the trust we’ve built with over 19M technology buyers that helps them reach the right people and expand their influence in the markets that matter to them.
Many customers today still leverage the TechTarget network to host and promote their own content to generate leads. While we’ve never allowed vendors to pay for editorial coverage, we do offer many exclusive editorial alignment opportunities to boost their brand recognition across extremely targeted technology topics.
We also have a large custom content division that can develop custom white papers, sites, display and native advertising sponsorships for our customers. All this content is clearly labeled as sponsored as to not confuse our members.
Tech marketers need to continue investing in a lot of owned content, but to make sure they reach as much of the active demand in their market as they possibly can, the need to “take that content on the road” by syndicating it to where their audience is when it is not interacting with them or doesn’t even realize that it should be.
Josh: My readers care a lot about operationalization of tools like TechTarget. Can you share more about how your customers plug PriorityEngine™ into their martech stacks?
Josh Garland (TT): There are really two ways our customers currently plug Priority Engine™ into their stacks and it really comes down to inputs and outputs.
Inputs: Priority Engine™ allows users to upload custom account lists directly into the tool and prioritizes them based on what TechTarget knows about their recent purchase behavior. For example, let’s say a customer is using a predictive solution to identify a target account or look-alike list.
Customers can upload the list directly into Priority Engine™ and the tool can tell them which accounts they should focus on right now based on if TechTarget sees the account is currently active in their market. Critically important is the fact that Priority Engine can identify the actual people they should focus on at these accounts based on their individual research behaviors.
Output: This is extremely powerful because one of the most common issues our customers experience with both predictive and ABM lists is they don’t know whom to focus on at their target accounts. This leads to “carpet-bomb” advertising approaches and can cause exhaustive BDR call-downs, which causes a bad customer experience: bad for their brand and not efficient at all. Priority Engine will take the list, re-rank it based on what we see and then identify the best prospects to email and call. This makes it easier for sales to focus their attention on the right people and break through.
We see a lot of customers leverage the Priority Engine custom list upload feature across many areas of their stack. They’ll upload Salesforce opportunity or territory lists, lists from events they’ve attended, site visitor lists, lead lists etc. The bottom line is Priority Engine can take what you’re doing with other tools and make it better by helping you identify the right accounts to focus on and providing the names, contact information and behavioral data of the right people at those accounts.
The other way we plug into the stack is via direct integrations with the leading marketing automation systems and salesforce. All prospects that Priority Engine discovers can be easily exported directly into marketing automation systems on a weekly basis. This includes TechTarget members and additional contacts from DiscoverOrg.
All a customer needs to do is set up a Target Profile once, which is basically a segmented audience list, and Priority Engine will export those prospects directly into their systems every Sunday. This makes it extremely easy for marketing teams to take this data and action on it for nurture campaigns, event promotion, lead generation etc. Even if they just add these prospects to their standard nurture tracks they will immediately see higher conversion rates and increased pipeline.
As a user, you will see a screen like this, which allows you to select subscribed topics, regions and target specific audiences.
Finally, Priority Engine™ account data can integrate directly into Salesforce (see image below). Salespeople can access TechTarget’s exclusive account intent data, TechTarget prospects, DiscoverOrg contacts and HG Data installed technology information right from their Salesforce account views. This makes it easier for salespeople to leverage this data within their current workflow. This data will only populate for accounts where Priority Engine is seeing pre-purchase activity, so it helps sales people quickly determine if there is a potential opportunity arising from one their accounts.
Josh: Demand generation marketers probably think of TechTarget as a lead generation channel, not an ABM player. How, and why, has TechTarget shifted to ABM?
Josh Garland (TT): I would not say TechTarget has shifted to ABM, I’d suggest that we have always focused on helping our customers target the accounts that matter. What has shifted is the market. In the past, marketers were heavily focused on generating massive amounts of leads from specific buyer personas, even though the sales organization was typically focused on accounts and territories.
What’s changed is that marketing teams are starting to align closer to Sales as more and more KPIs shifted away from front end metrics (CTR, open rate, downloads, leads) and moved to revenue focused KPIs (meetings, pipeline, opportunities, closed deals, upsell). This is a pretty significant change for marketing organizations that in the past were goaled on scale and now are judged by the individual deals they influence. I think this is why we are now all talking about ABM.
What’s interesting is that while we are hearing a lot of customers talk about testing ABM, many are struggling with the implementation of it. Some tools are helping them identify accounts they should go after, but not telling them whom to target. Other tools can give them every contact in the world, but don’t help them figure out where to start and who to focus on. In the worst cases, they lean on the sales team to generate an ABM list and find out months into a campaign that there are no opportunities at any of the accounts they’ve invested in. While not advertised as such, we believe Priority Engine is a full end-to-end ABM platform that addresses these key challenges.
First, marketers can use Priority Engine to create ABM lists. Every week it will tell you who are the top 200 accounts most likely to purchase solutions in your market. You also can upload a custom ABM list into the tool and it will rank those accounts for you as well. To do this, you can use pre-set identifiers or ask your TechTarget service representative to assist. The screen looks like this:
Next, it will tell you whom to contact at ABM accounts. Because Priority Engine uses user-level data to determine account ranking, we always know who the key researchers are at target accounts. Priority Engine ranks accounts by looking at individual buyer behavior and rolls that up to team behavior and finally to account behavior. This is very different than other intent providers who use account-level IP data to determine rankings. The IP approach makes it extremely hard to understand who to target at key accounts. We believe our bottom-up methodology provides a cleaner intent signal with the added benefit of always being able to track intent back to the individual researcher.
For example, if we see five people from Bank of America in a Boston office doing research on Flash Storage, it’s a signal that in that location, for that account, something is happening. This is exactly the same methodology we’ve used for over 10 years to deliver thousands of leads a day for our customers. This is why I believe TechTarget has always done ABM, we just didn’t call it that.
TechTarget Prospect Types include:
- Leads: opt-in members who interacted with a customer’s sponsored content.
- Active Prospects: opt-in members who have downloaded relevant content in the target technology market segment in the past 90 days.
- Suspects: opt-in members who have downloaded content that’s related to the target technology market segment.
Our new partnership with DiscoverOrg helps us fill out the target buying team even more. Now we can identify not only the active researchers at ABM accounts, but we can provide additional senior decision makers who may not be conducting the research, but will most likely have influence over the final purchase. These DiscoverOrg types can include:
- Recommended Contacts:
- DiscoverOrg contacts Priority Engine identified as related to the technology topic based on job title and seniority.
- Non DiscoverOrg customers will receive up to 10 DiscoverOrg recommended contacts for all ranked accounts
- DiscoverOrg customers will see all the recommended contacts at ranking accounts based on their DiscoverOrg subscription.
- Contacts: if you are also a DiscoverOrg subscriber, Priority Engine will deliver all additional non-recommended account contacts available based on a customer’s DiscoverOrg subscription. The added benefit of this is you’ll see all TechTarget and DiscoverOrg contacts in a single screen.
- DiscoverOrg contacts Priority Engine identified as related to the technology topic based on job title and seniority.
Finally, we make it very easy for both sales and marketing teams to break into ABM accounts. All prospects can be easily exported into marketing automation systems to run targeted ABM email or programmatic display campaigns.
The export profile will include 37 unique fields that should be carefully mapped to your Marketing Automation Platform and CRM to ensure proper signals reach Sales. Signals in the fields will include other Vendors the Lead looked at; Core Research Topics; Buying Team; and contact details.
Marketo users can expect standard contact fields will map easily. The integration is through an API rule and API User to create a custom service. Once the field mapping is complete, you can setup related smart lists and workflows. Other MAPs work similarly, including Integrate. [JDH: normally I link you to the documentation, however, it isn’t available to non-subscribers].
Account details, including install data from HG Data can be found in a single Web dashboard or can be integrated into Salesforce. Through our own studies, we’ve learned that sales people who leverage our intent data to have better conversions with ABM prospects generate more appointments, which leads to more closed opportunities. Priority Engine’s all-in-one account dashboards make it easy for sales people to have those intelligence driven sales conversations.
Many of our Priority Engine customers also still leverage our lead generation and display services in addition to their Priority Engine subscription. These tactics are proven to help warm up the accounts and open doors before marketing and sales engages them directly. Customers who run fully integrated ABM programs that include targeted lead generation, display, and Priority Engine see more success and faster conversions.
Josh: Let’s talk about the last mile – getting the signal and intent information into a salesperson’s hands. Once the data is flowing from Priority Engine through the MAP to a CRM, what should the Salesperson do? I’ve been on a lot of cold calls where the salesperson opened with, “So, I see you downloaded our whitepaper…” That’s really off putting. Is there a better way you recommend to your clients?
Josh Garland (TT): I agree. The information from Priority Engine is intended to help Sales prioritize contacts and Accounts. It’s also intended for salespeople to spend time reading and understand the signals to prepare the right questions for a call. This information collected helps accelerate the conversation rather than asking basic questions that will irritate most buyers. We recommend these steps:
- Train the team on what each signal means. TechTarget can also provide these training sessions for you.
- Have a script or preparation sheet to explain how a conversation could go if the interest is confirmed.
- Have an initial script that inserts the topics the prospect appears to care about, but avoid mentioning specific papers downloaded or other things we already know.
Here’s an example of how Priority Engine intent data appears to the salesperson in the dashboard. All of these data points, including installed technologies, can be leveraged to have better conversations with prospects.
Josh: I see. Essentially, the Salesperson can look at this screen and prepare for a conversation that addresses competitive issues that focus on Ransomware and Cyberattack instead of things the Prospect isn’t interested in. (I wrote about this recently). Thank you again for the interview and deep explanation of PriorityEngine™ and the DiscoverOrg partnership. I know I learned a lot about how to use the signals and integrate it into a martech stack effectively.
Interested in more product discussions like this? Let me know in the comments below.