Naming your intent data project improves results

Sep 16, 2020 | Author Ed Marsh

Tl;dr - It takes work to fully implement intent data. Even common use cases like account-based marketing (ABM) and target account sales collaboration will take resources, time, mistakes and experimentation. Fully unlocking value across the enterprise even more so. Meanwhile vague discussion of an "interesting data concept" won't build the organizational energy required to really succeed. Therefore, naming your intent data project is an important step toward long-term success.

"Our June Sprint"

national d-day museumWhat if Eisenhower, Montgomery and others had planned a June "Sprint" or "Project" in 1944.

The Normandy invasion wouldn't have happened, or if it had, it would have failed. Evil would have prevailed. The world would be different.

Putting the name "Overlord" on the operation didn't make any individual more heroic, any ordinance more deadly, or any commander more insightful. What it did, however, was codified all the planning, coordination and execution around a common language.

That's critical to military success.

It's critical to business success.

And, experience shows, that it's a factor in intent data success too.

Granted this sounds rather melodramatic. It's a rather grand reach from a history defining military campaign to a revenue growth tactic. But it's nevertheless applicable.

Why Does It Matter? It Makes It Real!

Effectively integrating, activating and orchestrating intent data is complex stuff. Unlocking the full value of intent data requires vision. Consider the high level steps involved (or click here to skip a pretty long list!):

  • Capturing anonymous first-party data
  • Integrating known and anonymous first party data
  • Layering in other first party data (e.g. in app usage metrics)
  • Integrating second-party data
  • Properly defining the ICP (ideal customer profile)
  • Understanding and selecting the right third-party data model (e.g. bidstream, publishing collaborative, or based on observation of public action)
  • Defining the accurate parameters of 3rd-party data to collect
  • Integrating 3rd party data
  • Upgrading a tech stack built on CRM and marketing automation which don't support analysis and segmentation fully based on rolling observations of account fit and activity AND contact fit and activity (e.g. a customer data orchestration platform)
  • Build the models to analyze and interpret the data - then test and refine
  • Creating, testing, and refining account prioritization process
  • Experimenting with segmentation for custom audience paid campaigns
  • Dynamically integrate custom audience creation with ad platforms
  • Creating segments and content for dynamic site content and chat bot experiences based on observable intent signals
  • Integrate other platforms to deliver personalized experiences programmatically - including CMS, chatbots, sales acceleration platforms like Salesloft and
  • Full sales enablement at scale with contextual coaching and segmented and personalized cadences
  • Adapting ABM to include all the sales and marketing intelligence
  • Incorporating data into complex sales processes and target account sales movements
  • Building, testing, refining the sales motions to execute on data
  • Incorporate data into the customer success function - surfacing the right signals at the right time with the right enablement
  • Implement intent data initiatives across the enterprise (e.g. procurement's observation of vendor interaction with competitors, PR's use of Predictive™ Media Scan, and the Corporate Development team's use of data for intelligence around their work
  • Testing and improving lead scoring
  • Building full "propensity to buy" models - understanding signals not just to illuminate account activity and contact level engagement, but predict outcomes based on specific signals at key points in buying journey
  • Improve the accuracy of pipeline forecasting
  • Develop large body of market and competitive intelligence (e.g. data substantiated TAM, churn rates, etc.)
  • and more..... as the technology quickly evolves

The reality is that projects rarely start with a vision. Certainly not one so grand.

That's good - because if it was treated like an ERP would rarely happen.

That's bad - because most companies only realize a small faction of the potential value.

Intent data projects often originate when an enterprising individual with ABM (account-based marketing), demand generation or sales KPIs starts a conversation. They research options based on their defined requirements, make a best guess, execute some simple CRM and/or marketing automation integration (or simply buy an intent data add-on from their ABM software provider), and basically continue doing what they've done, but expecting that the magic of intent data will deliver different outcomes.

And it often does, because it focuses effort in the right places.

But the breakthrough - the application of data across the customer lifecycle and throughout the enterprise - never happens because it's too wonky, too niche, too abstract, too big, and unrecognized by leaders across the company.

Nobody on the Success team says "I heard someone in marketing is looking at some new data. Maybe I should find out who it is, try to get some time with them, and maybe they can explain it to me on the off chance that it would somehow help us reduce churn." 

That organic spread, instead, takes buzz, executive engagement and sponsorship, and a lexicon that makes the message accessible.

Naming your intent data project doesn't force the target account sales and ABM marketing folks to collaborate, but it gives you a short-hand to start sharing excitement, results, and insights around the company. It gives participants the feeling that they're working on something consequential - not just another data task - and it creates curiosity among outsiders.

Most importantly it gives your project a place in executive minds. "A data experiment" doesn't keep popping up on C-Suite meeting agendas. But "Cascade Project" might.

naming your marketing data project makes it important

Omega, Raptor, and ?

Chris Taylor called his project Raptor as he explained to me during our podcast conversation on the Marketing Data Flywheel.

Paul Green of Extreme Networks told the 2019 B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange about how "Omega" became the watchword for his large scale intent data project.

What should you call yours? Here are some fun resources to help pick the perfect name to inspire your team, intrigue your colleagues and engage your management.

Nevertheless, It's the Work That Counts

Whether you go flashy, fanciful, mundane or Top Secret, the name is, ultimately, only a tool.

It's the important work that matters. And there's a lot of work in each of the steps above. Iterations of experiments take time.

The key is to understand intent data in the context of business, marketing, sales, and success goals, as part of an entire data stack, and to incorporate it in increasingly meaningful ways across the enterprise.

Be realistic. It will take time. You'll have frustrations and make mistakes. Identifying early and quick wins is important.

But a named project will put all that in the context of the larger, important and impactful effort.

Image credit - Industeel



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