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How third-party intent data makes the ABM flipped funnel obsolete

The classic B2B account-based marketing “flipped funnel” turns the traditional marketing funnel on its head. In its simplest form, it focuses on identifying accounts, engaging, expanding, and finally advocating, the stage where your current customers are so loyal, they begin to influence other potential customers.

Basically, you work backward, and try to engage a specific set of accounts that fit your ICP (ideal customer profile).

This flipped funnel is so prevalent in the ABM world because of its easy explanation and consumable visual representation. It makes sense to marketers, the sales team, as well as the higher-ups who will need to sign off on ABM as a company strategy. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with the flipped funnel—it is, to a large extent, effective—there’s something in the ABM word pushing it out of the picture: third-party intent data.

Generally, intent data helps B2B companies predict when potential customer accounts are ready to buy; this is done with the assistance of omnipresent browser cookies and unique IP addresses. ABM utilises intent data to select qualified accounts based on the account’s level of research and overall intent to buy. Third-party intent data, versus first-party (which looks at the visits and engagement on your own site), tracks what your accounts or leads are consuming on other websites, outside of your own digital properties. For example, a retail account you’ve been targeting is searching for social media engagement measuring tools, what your company sells, on an industry-specific site; intent data tools (e.g. Bombora, TechTarget) will combine all the data and inform you of their activity interacting with this particular topic. Now, your marketing team knows to aim for deeper content engagement, and your sales team knows this is a target actively looking for this exact kind of product.

Here’s where the ABM flipped funnel becomes obsolete: Precise third-party intent data bypasses target accounts who might seem like the perfect fit, but they’re just not at the right stage to buy your product or solution. They might have just purchased a similar tool to what you’re trying to sell; they might be locked into year one of a three-year contract with another company; or maybe they’re going through a reorganisation and aren’t ready to bite the bullet. Without intent data, your marketing team will waste money targeting these “ideal” accounts, and your sales team will waste time and effort trying to achieve a sale that will literally never happen—even if they’re working with the best ABM strategy, creative, and targeting in the game.

With intent data, you’ll avoid the accounts within your ICP who just aren’t ready or able to buy your product. There’s no need to spend money on targeting them with custom ads without achieving any sort of result—engagement or eventual revenue. Your third-party intent data focuses your team on the accounts with the best possible chance of conversion. Quality over quantity, always.

You might have one last question about third-party intent data and ABM: Isn’t it expensive? Short answer: It can be. Best answer: Find a solution that utilises cost-effective tools and tactics for incorporating intent data into your ABM campaigns. Maintaining a lower cost results in an overall high ROI and greater success for both you and your customers.

B2B Marketing ABM Report 2020

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