Originally published by Marketing Land 3/19/14
marketers are laser-focused on targeting. It makes sense — the idea of picking out who is most likely to buy your product is the ideal situation. In the all-you-can-eat data buffet, reaching our audience and only our audience is relatively easy, and it has become the definition of efficiency.lead generation
Unfortunately, in lead generation, targeting that narrowly isn’t always the best solution.
Let’s say, for example, that your target (like everyone else’s) is the CMO. You set up filters to ensure you’re reaching that most senior marketing executive and no one else. Decision makers only. Budget holders only. Advanced degrees and a decade or more of experience only. A few more levers pulled and a few more twists of the dial, and your CMO is in the crosshairs.
Only, what if they delete your email or ignore your ad? Then what? Sure, there’s retargeting, but how many times do you retarget someone who has consistently declined to engage? After a while, you’re negating the efficiency of targeting by wasting those impressions.
When it comes to B2B lead generation, targeting on an individual scale turns into a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. Though there may be one person writing the checks, organizational purchase decisions are collaborative and the consideration process can be lengthy as more people are invited to provide input on the decision.
By zooming in solely on the CMO, you’re missing out on the marketing director, who may frequently make recommendations to the CMO. You’re also missing the consultant who may be trusted by the CMO, or the sales team that could be begging the CMO for the budget to buy your products right now.
At the beginning of the customer journey, there actually is such a thing as too much targeting. At this stage, you need a comprehensive view of your prospect’s entire B2B universe. Your lead generation efforts will be much more effective if you widen your net to ensure you capture not just executive decision makers, but their influencer pool as well.
However, it is a fine line between widening your net and wasting thousands of impressions on unqualified leads. It is still important to focus your efforts on those prospects most likely to result in a purchase. Basic demographic data is easy to gather. You can identify targets based on their organizational roles and titles, but that data will still be somewhat inaccurate without the additional consideration of whether or not those targets will ever have interest in your offering.
Broadening reach while maintaining precision requires careful analysis of behavioral data to determine interest in a product or service, including leveraging sophisticated algorithms to identify the behavioral patterns signaling actual purchase intent.
But the fact is, time is of the essence here because intent data has a shorter shelf life these days. It is crucial to identify and reach out to this sphere of influencers within a few days of their first interaction with your brand.
Once you have identified that intent across the organization as well as across external influencers, you must then utilize data to pinpoint targets as they move through the buying cycle and accompany them on their journey. Continuing to serve relevant content that will keep those leads warm and primed for the sales team is what actually results in conversions.
“Better targeting” has been the marketing industry mantra for the last several years, but “better” doesn’t always mean narrower, especially for B2B lead generation campaigns. “Better” ultimately means what is right for your particular organization at that particular time. When you’re generating leads, very often it’s better to start with a large prospect pool and then utilize the wealth of available data to narrow down the most qualified targets.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.