Water, Water, Everywhere, Nor Any a Drop to Drink! Samuel Taylor Colleridge coined this famous phrase in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner to describe a sailor stuck on his ship in the middle of the calm ocean.
We use this phrase a lot to describe the data that should inform data-driven B2B marketing. Intent data is one of those core tools. Many intent programs are designed to deliver too many insights. Like the Ancient Mariner in the middle of a salt water ocean, too many insights can prevent you from activating in a meaningful way.
Today, our focus is on one distinction that’s key to getting the highest ROI out of your intent data: in market vs. out of market.
Sure, intent data is important to content strategy, lead targeting, and audience activation. But getting too in the weeds with your intent data can hamstring you before you’ve even had a chance to reach your audience. Instead, start with the most basic question: is your audience in market to buy your product right now?
Sort Your Buyers into Two Buckets
Is your intent monitoring too niche?
Let’s look at an example. Segmentation allows you to split your customers into groups based on an unlimited number of common factors: location, interests, demographics, industry, and so on. These marketing segments can then be used to push personalized content to your leads.
But a program that relies on deep, manual segmentation is impossible to scale or maintain. Trying to track the needs of dozens or hundreds of highly curated groups and then push timely, individualized content to each segment is a strategy that’s bound to fail.
It’s the same with intent data. You might be deeply invested in using the data you’re purchasing. But getting too specific with customer monitoring, or coming up with dozens of plays that align with the data that’s coming in, is unsustainable. You need a strategy that can be maintained.
Instead, focus on in market vs. out of market. This splits your audience into two simple categories: those who are in market to buy right now, and those who aren’t.
Researchers at the B2B Institute have concluded that marketing comes down to the 95:5 rule: only 5% of your audience will actually be in market to buy your product. The rest are out of market. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the 95%. Instead, cater your strategies for each group.
Strategies for In-Market Audiences
Determining whether a lead is in market is the biggest factor in converting your leads quickly. Once you determine a lead is actually ready to buy, you can identify where they are in the buyer’s journey and customize accordingly. You can then push content that’s more general to the audience’s challenges or more specific to your solutions, depending on where they are in the buying process.
In-market prospects are simple. You know they want to buy, and you just have to figure out how to convince them to buy your product over your competitors.
But out-of-market prospects are, counterintuitively, just as important as those who are ready to buy right now. Leads who might not be in a position to purchase may become in market in months or years. When that time comes, you want them to turn to you.
Strategies for Out-of-Market Audiences
B2B Marketing efforts are long term. Your goals for your out-of-market audience are top of funnel: build trust, increase brand awareness, and make sure that when the time comes to buy, it’s easy for your customers to choose you.
The 95:5 rule means taking a step back. If the vast majority of your audience isn’t in a position to buy, then buy-now ads won’t work. Instead, you’re trying to build muscle memory and make sure that your customers remember you. That means more top-of-funnel content.
Don’t drown in a sea of intent data – simplify into in market vs. out of market.