By Tony Mowad, VP of Business Development, Bombora
Marketing today relies heavily on audience insights. Consumer-facing marketers know this and agencies frequently aid them in developing an audience strategy for targeted marketing purposes. Things are a little trickier in the B2B space. The target audience is more specific and thus narrower. B2B purchases are often made by a buying committee, rather than a single decision-maker. The upside is significant however, as the average purchase amount of a business purchase dwarfs most consumer transactions.
The net: agencies can’t simply port successful B2C audiences strategies over to the B2B world. By focusing on four specific components, however, it’s possible to put together an audience strategy that will help B2B marketers win new customers.
Conduct a total addressable market (TAM) analysis
Agencies can only build an audience strategy when they understand not only the total number of potential accounts for the B2B brand’s products and/or services, but also the percent that are actually in-market or intending to make a purchase. By sizing the market and the number of potential customers, agencies can better understand who is actually buying the B2B product, or what companies are in the customer category. This sets the foundation for an audience strategy because the agency now understands the exact size of the total audience.
Build an account list
Account-based marketing, or ABM, is now a staple of B2B advertising (such that the term has morphed into account-based strategies [ABS] or account-based everything [ABX]). This is the idea of building marketing and sales efforts around target accounts, or companies that are likely to buy a product or service. Of course, no brand can implement ABM without an account list.
The TAM analysis reveals the total addressable market, and more detailed research must be done on which companies respond to content and display intent signals (via an email signup, or attending a webinar). These companies thus become the priority accounts on the ABM list because they’re most likely to purchase. Those that are not currently in-market are deprioritized.
Agencies can then use these insights to build targeting audiences against the ABM list, targeting some accounts with awareness messages, while trying to move the in-market accounts deeper into the funnel.
Content remains king in the B2B marketing space. It’s critical for all businesses to actively develop and promote content that helps educate B2B customers and solve their problems. A TAM analysis will reveal potential customers. From there, B2B agencies must use the available data signals to align content marketing strategies with the topics that those prospects are actually searching for and researching.
The TAM analysis also fuels the segmentation plan. The more an agency can understand about a B2B brand’s prospective customers, the more it can carve up that audience to receive different ad messages and content.
For example, B2B brands can run both awareness and more targeted campaigns simultaneously. Content can focus on solving big picture industry issues and it can drill down deeply into how the end-user will put a product or service into action. Successful strategies will segment these audiences so that they are receiving relevant messaging.
Agencies that take these four actions are well on their way to building winning audiences strategies on behalf of their B2B clients. The next step is layering in demographic, firmographic, and technographic insights to fine-tune their audience strategy and deliver targeted messaging to the relevant prospects. They can also start A/B testing to find the best mix of messaging and audience targeting, and propel their B2B clients on the road to success.