Growth Hacking vs. Buyer Intent Data

Aug 08, 2019 | Author Ed Marsh

Growth Hacking is hip

growth hacking sounds cool but isn't a solution for sales growth

Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business. Growth hacking is more of mindset than toolset. Growth hacking refers to a set of both conventional and unconventional marketing experiments that lead to growth of a business....Wikipedia

And from Farnam Street

(Growth hacking is built on the) agility to switch tactics if the desired outcome is not achieved...Meanwhile, traditional marketers are often trapped in lengthy campaigns which do not offer much in the way of useful metrics. Growth hackers can adapt and change their techniques every single day depending on what works. They are not confined by stagnant ideas about what worked before.

In other words, growth hacking is the routine process of marketing, growing demand and generating leads - with a dose of creativity. Some folks might like to affix a cool sounding moniker to the day-in and day-out work, but it's ultimately just a tag, not some mystical and ingenious approach. There is no growth hacking checklist, and the more publicly someone announces themselves as a growth hacker (like "gurus" and "ninjas") the less likely they are of capable delivery.

Further, growth hacking is generally a "marketing" function that is separated by silo from the real work that has to happen in sales to drive results.

But it's not a "solution"

Trendy approaches, like the latest SaaS apps don't deliver breakout results. Consistent hard work and incremental success are the answer.

So, while growth hacking is a seductive mirage, turning to it as a methodology to solve for growth is akin to putting one's entire marketing budget into trade shows. (Actually that is probably unfair to trade shows which are a concrete and legitimate tool in industrial sales and marketing!)

There's a simple, but far from easy, formula for revenue growth:

  1. Demand generation
  2. Lead generation
  3. Sales process
  4. Sales methodology (And yes, there is a difference. The process & methodology must be complimentary, but are distinct.)

The rise of digital, and the resulting shifts in buyer habits and behaviors have dramatically changed the requirements of strategy and tactics in this sequence, but the framework remains the same.

The solution to growth, therefore, requires adapting this sequence but not discarding it. It requires a broad adaptation of Digital Sales™ Process. Finding ways to optimize and improve efficiency are key.

sales fracking buyer intent data drives digital sales results

Extracting more value with Contact-Level™ Buyer Intent Data

Hydraulic fracking is the process by which oil and gas producers realize more value from their reserves. They're able to extract more by increasing the efficiency of their drilling process and get more from every hole in the ground. (This isn't taking a political or environmental position on the topic - it's just a practical analogy.)

Artificial intelligence (AI) and technology have fundamentally changed the process of producing oil and gas. Big data lets geologists better predict where to drill test wells. Automation is replacing oil field workers who perform risky jobs. And techniques like horizontal drilling are driving economical production. Fracking leverages each of those further by enabling greater extraction efficiency.

In other words, the science and practice are collaborating in new ways.

There are analogs to these changes in the digital transformation of sales and marketing. Data is being mined for insights as marketing automation improves the buyer experience (when done right). CRM and other technology tools are allowing companies to focus the right resources on the right opportunities, and making adept field salespeople far more productive and effective.

And Sales Fracking Buyer Intent Data serves a similar purpose: It helps you extract more value from each element of your digital marketing and sales machine in the Digital Sales Process.

Solving for effectiveness and efficiency

No marketing team produces enough leads. No sales team manages to focus just on the highest priority prospects. This isn't a criticism of the work you do, but these realities are common across every business.

Buyer intent data provides the same boost to digital sales that fracking does to hydrocarbon extraction. BID helps to extract more value from your content marketing, Account-Based Marketing, BDR workflows, sales prospecting, social listening and selling and particularly sales-qualified lead generation. (More use cases here.)

In fact, it simultaneously provides red meat to the sales team (current buyers researching your solutions across the web beyond your site) and fuel for nurturing all the prospects that you just didn't know of. After all, even if your marketing team is rock stars at SEO, search click-through and conversion. You probably only know of 1% to 3% of the folks you should be nurturing and selling to.

The corollary is that you've got an opportunity for 97% to 99% more! 

Evolving technology

Like hydraulic fracking, Digital Sales Process technology has evolved. In fact, buyer intent data has some negative associations because many early versions were disappointing.

Most BID is built on observations of IP address "surges." You provide the type of prospect you're looking for and the type of internet activity or information with which their interaction would be indicative of intent, and the provider watches for matching activity from IP addresses that match your target prospects. When they see those, they provide contact details for "known" employees at that location which match your buyer profile.

There are two key problems with this approach.

  1. You have no idea who at that IP address is searching. Could it be an intern? Someone working on their side hustle?
  2. The contact details are randomly associated. Just because LinkedIn says that the VP of Engineering at that location is Mr. X, there's no way to know if that's the person who is searching.

So it's a cool concept, but doesn't actually connect many dots.

Now there's a much more direct approach to buyer intent data — one that provides real people, their actual behaviors, and their contact details including phone and email. Some may be interacting with very early stage awareness, top-of-the-funnel material while others are on competitors' sites getting ready to buy.

That's the holy grail for both sales prospecting and marketing.


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