How data-driven display can now supercharge laser-focused demand gen
Contributor John Steinert explains how high-quality purchase intent data is making real integration effective and affordable.
With respect to B2B digital display advertising, it is fair to say that among practitioners, there are basically two types of mindsets: believers and non-believers.
Or maybe that’s not fair. Maybe the fact that so many companies don’t use digital display is simply a matter of prioritization, and digital display falls off the list for one or more reasons: It’s too expensive to do at an effective scale; it’s relatively untargetable; its ROI is difficult to prove, and so on.
Whatever the real cause — philosophy or accounting techniques — what we’re seeing at our company is that in highly competitive markets, digital display works incredibly well. Furthermore, whatever the rationalization, this means that the neglect of digital display by some is actually amplifying the opportunity for those who get it right.
Right now, B2B tech companies are taking advantage of improved data opportunities to deploy continuous, always-on programs that supercharge everything else they do. They’re using digital display to increase their deal-cycle consideration rates by 25 percent and their full-funnel conversion rates by 2x.
If you think of demand generation as a laser that’s focused directly on your targets, when you reinforce it with integrated digital display, you’re surrounding your targets with a positive energy field that makes everything you do work better. You can get much better total return — real ROI — at very reasonable cost.
Successful B2B digital advertising is not a broadcast model
Part of the reason modern B2B marketers shy away from digital display is that they’ve equated it with consumer-based broadcast models. Given that, reluctance among B2B demand-gen practitioners is to be expected.
It’s perfectly natural for people who’ve grown up in a culture of precise targeting to be uncomfortable with methods that can’t be focused directly on a well-defined audience comprising actual identifiable people. If you can’t reach an audience that is transparently understandable, you’re right to be concerned, and your advertising won’t have the effect I’m talking about.
To do digital display that delivers the kind of results we’re seeing, you need to seek out providers who can show you that their audience is exactly who you want. Given the data available today, there is no reason for you to advertise to the wrong people, or to too many people because a provider can’t deliver the precision you demand.
The difference today is that providers who use real purchase intent insight to target digital display are capable of getting your message to the right people at the right time.
This is not your colleagues’ programmatic
Most of us in B2B are selling big-ticket items with long sell cycles to relatively few target companies. It’s not a simple proposition. Complicating matters further, inside our prospect organizations we need to contend with buying teams comprising diverse perspectives — from technical specialists to businesspeople and often, the financial community.
Furthermore, once a company buys in a particular category, they’re usually done for several years, so a competitor’s customer won’t be the market for your offering any time soon. In short, this environment is nothing like the consumer space, with its low average deal size, rapid transactions, short repeat purchase cycles and so on.
So, while, as an industry, programmatic’s technological advances have driven the cost per impression (CPM) way down, in B2B, CPM is not the major point of leverage. It’s the inexpensiveness of ad delivery that makes ROIs exciting.
The key levers powering real ROI from integrated digital display
1. It’s the audience, first. Clear access to the real audience you seek should top your list of requirements when creating a strategy for effective digital display. Our own research confirms this and adds to it with examples from hyperspecific technology audiences.
2. Consistency beats big bang. It’s not about making a big splash with low CPM advertising to everyone who might one day have a need. Some practitioners still utilize the idea of pulsing their campaigns, perhaps as a holdover from when any advertising was prohibitively expensive.
They heavy-up in-market for a short period with a big buy and then disappear again. It’s an idea you can see in play at Super Bowl time and the Oscars: Everyone who matters is watching, so they’ll see your ads!
But that’s not how things work in B2B. In B2B, you want to find your audience and be continuously in front of it. There are two reasons for this. The first is that there are new prospects who enter a buy-cycle each month (and of course, there are companies who exit because they’ve completed their buy).
To maximize your coverage of the total demand available in your market across the year, you need to be visible to those who are entering the cycle each month. Our research shows that a sustained presence targeting the new entrants has a 150 percent greater impact than an intermittent one.
That should be pretty obvious when you realize that it’s the combined effect of digital display integrated with demand gen that really drives ROI. You can’t get the combined effect when you’re not doing the advertising piece.
3. You integrate demand with your digital display. The second critical reason is that digital display’s lift of demand generation and sales clearly increases when they’re done together at the same time. When ads are specific, and they reach the same individual who is engaging with your demand gen, we’ve found there’s a 16x improvement in cross-funnel outcomes.
This kind of result is possible because the latest purchase intent data-driven methods ensure your ads reach the exact same individuals as your email — specifically, those who are doing buying research. Because they become more familiar with you when they are actually in the market, they respond better to your outreach in all its forms — e.g., by opening your emails or taking your calls at much higher rates.
What else drives a successful integrated strategy?
Because of recent advances in purchase intent-enabled marketing, the same data that you can use to steer both your email and your digital display to the right companies and buyers within them can also supply the information you need to synchronize very specific messaging.
While you need to be in-market throughout the year to maximize access to available demand, there’s great flexibility within such a program to send different sub-messages to particular types of buyers based on their observed purchase drivers.
Since it captures very specific content consumption information, high-quality purchase intent can tell you who you are competing with for a particular deal, what variables within a solution matter most to the particular team within an account and more. With this information, you are able to tailor both your display advertising and your email messaging and content assets to the expressed interests of the prospects you’re looking to acquire.
When you do this, you can achieve results like those shown below from an analysis we worked on with Just Media. These findings from the research illuminate how the benefits of high-quality data compound as prospects move downward through your marketing funnel.
Intent-driven integration has become surprisingly affordable
Even if you set the ROI numbers aside for a moment, successful intent-driven digital display requires a much smaller investment than many practitioners realize, precisely because it’s targeting a very specific audience. With each passing quarter, we see aggressive high-growth companies taking full advantage of this to help them disrupt their tech markets at an affordable cost.
The modeled calculations below illustrate how, for a tech vendor selling a solution with an average selling price of $50,000, an annual investment of $100K in digital display advertising integrated with email demand generation can be expected to pay out.
Because the integration is intent-driven, the advertising is limited to those prospects who are actually in-market and exhibiting purchase behavior.
While the ads target all the active demand in a specific market across the year, the messaging can vary a lot within the program based on diversity of interest within sub-segments. The email and the advertising alike are delivered only to prospects showing purchase intent, only to that percentage of the market that is in an active demand state.
With purchase intent-driven integration, you don’t execute huge “reach” programs to people who aren’t in a buy-cycle. This critical difference from B2C and profile-driven programmatic shotgun approaches is exactly what minimizes waste, maximizes effect, keeps cost down and drives up your ROI.
The bottom line on digital display for B2B companies in competitive markets
Research from Salesforce.com, Digital Clarity Group, Just Media, Inc., and ourselves has now provided mutually reinforcing evidence on how companies can economically take advantage of innovations in data and delivery to do digital display that works.
By laser-focusing advertising and demand gen together to the right audience and the right people at the right time, practitioners can act with confidence and deliver the ROI that even the toughest “investor” expects.
Using the precision targeting available from high-quality purchase intent providers, marketers can surround buying teams with the messaging and content necessary to be considered in the highest possible number of deals. The impact of the approach will be trackable in improved conversion rates that lead all the way down the funnel to larger numbers of deals.
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