Unwrapping 3 Strategies for Developing an Integrated Buyer’s Journey

It's not enough to send prospects to your website. To influence and convert key accounts, marketers must evolve their strategies into a cohesive, unified journey to engage with prospects and accounts, everywhere they are. | Originally aired on December 9, 2022

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Key takeaways.


The buyer's journey must be unified.

All platforms should be connected, sharing data across touchpoints and enabling more cohesive conversations with accounts.




Content is the best competitive advantage.

Your content should act as your secret sauce, and that’s only possible if content is created around a well-defined ideal customer profile.


Success metrics require proper attribution.  

Every touchpoint should yield data and all of those insights should be attributed to account journeys for better sales conversations.

HubSpot Video

The most critical part is to ensure the sales and marketing teams are aligned on who they want to target and what is qualified as an MQL and SQL. If your lead to MQL conversion rate is 50%, then that's great, but if your MQL to SQL conversion rate is 10%, there's a problem there.


Episode Transcript

Joe Cantu: Hi, thanks for joining us. I'm Joe Cantu, Director of Digital Marketing at Iron Horse and I'm joined by Olivier L'Abbé, the President of metadata.io. Olivier is joining us for today's coffee break to discuss three strategies for developing an integrated buyer’s journey and a few of the pain points and issues that he's seen throughout his career. And more specifically, with some of his clients at metadata.io, as he works with them to develop these programs. So, some of the barriers and challenges that he helps them overcome to reach their ABM goals. And while Olivier does have his coffee, I'm joined by my trustee water bottle because I would be up all night if I had coffee right now. So Olivier, thanks for joining us. And let's go ahead and get started.

Olivier L'Abbé: All right, thanks for having me.

Joe Cantu: So, Olivier, as I mentioned, let's go ahead and dive in. So, as you work with clients, what are some of the bigger pain points and issues you see as they embark upon building a cohesive and integrated buyer’s journey?

Olivier L'Abbé: Yeah, I think it depends. It's a case by case basis. Because oftentimes, we'll work with younger companiesseries A, series B companies. And in some cases, they don't yet have their ICP, their ideal customer profile. They don't really understand the different pains that these individuals might be experiencing. And so I think the first thing is really understanding, what is your ICP?

Olivier L'Abbé: And then you have to start building content for that. So I'll give you an example. So metadata.io is a marketing software technology; we work with B2B vendors. So our buyers and our personas will be VPs of demand generation, as well as CMOs. We also have Directors of Digital Marketing, but then we'll have the campaign managers, as well. And so, in our case, and what we try to do, is really understand the different personas and the different pains that each of these individuals are running into on a day to day basis.

Olivier L'Abbé: And then we, essentially, create content that helps them better do their job. And so I think that is the first thing you need to really be focused on. And then that leads to building the right types of audiences when you are trying to do advertising campaigns to those individuals. Irrelevant of the channels that you're using, you want to be able to make sure that you're spending money targeting the right people. And sometimes the channels will make it a little harder. So for example, Facebook is a great channel in terms of broad reach, there's a lot of people that go there. But companies like us or our customers are [specifically] trying to target B2B companies. [In that case,] it could be really hard to target effectively on Facebook. And so those are some of the things that we try to alleviate with our customers.

Joe Cantu: Okay, so let's dive into that a little bit more. You mentioned the audience building side and needing to understand ICP, an ideal customer profile. So what are some of the tools and tips you'd have there to be able to develop a really strong ICP so that you know you're at least initially going after the right people?

Olivier L'Abbé: So to figure out your ICP, there's several technologies around that can help you do that. I used to work at a company called Flip Top and that's exactly what we did there. Was like predictive accounts scoring, predictive lead scoring, which came around about six years ago, seven years ago. So you can basically look at a MadKudu, will do that for you. You can also look at like a 6Sense can help you figure that out. I think there's some other vendors that can help you do that.

Olivier L'Abbé: And basically what they're doing is they're looking into your closed won and closed lost historical data. And for that to be effective, you need at least 50, ideally 100, closed won opportunities and plus all of the closed lost opportunities. And then it can help you identify, here are the job titles, here are the companies that you want to target where you have really good conversions.

Olivier L'Abbé: And now once you have that, you could use a tool like ours. Or something like Clearbit to really understand who you want to target. So in our case, we use our own product, it's called MetaMatch and that's an audience building tool. And what we've done is we've essentially partnered with 20 different data sources. So we have some firmographic data, technographic data, we have some intent data, we have some mobile device ID data, hashed emails, all of that. We normalize this data through elastic search, and we have a social data graphic of 1.5 billion people. And then we can build audiences.

Olivier L'Abbé: And the cool thing is that we let you preview, which is really a game changer. So if you're really trying to target the right people, you can't really do that with an IP address because you're targeting everybody in a company. So if you use a product like ours, we'll essentially let you preview job titles, name of the company, and seniority. And so you can preview and then we push these audiences into channels. And the cool thing is we can make channels like Facebook work really effectively for B2B because we can do the same type of segmentation that you get on LinkedIn, which is outstanding. You can now do the same on a channel like Cora or Google or Facebook or Instagram.

Joe Cantu: That's awesome. Very cool. Diving into your next point. So, looking into the content side and thinking a little bit about my experiences with metadata.io. A big value that we've seen has been the ability to be able to test that content across your various audiences in a very smart and efficient way. And I think a lot of that kind of ties into your third point of making sure that you're reaching the right people, but also making sure that you're reaching them with the right content. So walk me through your thoughts and best practices on the experimentation and that side of things with content.

Olivier L'Abbé: So this is something I fell in love with a few years ago when I was introduced to metadata.io. So before this, I ran revenue at G2; I spent four years at G2. And I helped their CTO come up with the buyer intent product, which I thought was a great way to ensure that you are understanding who's in market for your type of software.

Olivier L'Abbé: But the issue with that is that it's really hard to hone in and figure out, who are the people that you should be targeting? Because once again, intent data tends to be tied to the IP address. And so you don't want to waste your budget targeting 99% of the people that are not a fit for you.

Olivier L'Abbé: And so I was introduced to metadata.io and once I learned about not only the audience building tool, but the second thing, which I'll talk about now, which is multivariate experimentation. That got me really excited. Because there's nothing else on the market that does that. And B2B is not, to me, it doesn't seem like B2B is as advanced as B2C. B2C has much larger budgets and experimentation on B2C is much more advanced.

Olivier L'Abbé: So multi-varied experimentation is like AB testing to the 10th degree. And what I mean by that is instead of trying two different ads, you can try a hundred different experiments. An experiment is isolating text, the copy, the image, the channel, the audience. And so instead of building one campaign at a time, you can create 150 campaigns in minutes where we will isolate all these variables. And then based on the conversions that are happening in the channel, are they even clicking on the ad? And is a click leading to a lead? Is the lead leading to an MQL? Is the MQL leading to an SQL? Is the SQL leading to an opportunity and pipeline and closed won revenue?

Olivier L'Abbé: And so what we've been able to do here at metadata.io is essentially create an infrastructure where we can create these experiments. We will optimize all of the bidding based on the conversions that are happening across your marketing automation and your CRM, to ensure that we are creating the best campaigns. And when you do experimentation, the majority of your experiments are not going to work out.

Olivier L'Abbé: But the critical part is getting to statistical significance and honing in on, of a thousand different campaigns that we have run for you as a customer, what do the top 5% of campaigns look like? And once you understand that, then you can make revisions to those experiments and then modify the colors or modify the text, or layer on some intent data or technographic data to the audience to really hone in on and increase your conversion rates.

Olivier L'Abbé: And so what we enable our customers to do is really, shorten the amount of time it takes to understand what their buyers are interested in and what helps them convert to create pipeline. And then you can relay all of that information to the sales team.

Olivier L'Abbé: You can say, "These personas and these geographies really like these words. They like these colors. They like this content." And that is really important because if you are trying to do just one campaign at a time, it's going to take you a long time to really figure out what works and what doesn't work. And so that's what really got me excited about metadata.io. And this is the reason that I decided to join two years ago.

Joe Cantu: That is a really great point; you think about one ad and like you mentioned color and things like that. And a lot of times, I think, we often overlook those. But when you actually get the opportunity to test them out or various CTAs, various images of the same content piece that uses slightly altered titles. And you could see wildly different results. So it's always very interesting to be reminded of the difficulty, but also the ease of some of the things that we overlook, like testing.

Olivier L'Abbé: Yeah. For sure. I mean, I talked to a company this week, somebody recommended it, it's called Attentive Insights. And essentially you can upload your image, your ad and then it's going to show you a heat map. That's going to show you where humans are going to focus their time. And it's going to tell you if this ad is likely to be successful. I'm like, "Wow, this is pretty cool." Because you have companies like Hotjar who do this for your website, but this is doing it for the ads.

Olivier L'Abbé: So I have a feeling that advertising is going to get a lot more effective in the future because you're basically going to have all these resources at your fingertips where you can upload your images and then it's going to tell you, here's what conversions you should expect if you run this experiment. And I think that's where we're headed and I'm really excited about that.

Joe Cantu: Yeah, that is very, very exciting. So I want to jump back to one other point you mentioned about just sharing insights from metadata.io or other parts of an ABM stack with your sales team and with other parts of the organization. I know we've always viewed client communication, goal alignment, all those things as, of course, very important for an ABM program. But I guess, what are some of your tips or general rules for success on getting alignment and goal alignment on an ABM program?

Olivier L'Abbé: Yeah, well, I think the first thing is to have the sales leader align with the marketing leader. I've been in the space a long time and there's a lot of turnover in both those positions now. Most recent data I looked at, I saw that CMOs actually don't last as long as CROs. Which is kind of surprising because historically, sales people have much more transition. And so if you don't have alignment and if there's movement there, it's always something that needs to be worked on. But there needs to be alignment at the top, between the marketing and the sales leader.

Olivier L'Abbé: Because the marketing is going to basically try to create demand. And if the demand that they're generating, the sales people are not interested in speaking with them, then there's going to be some issues there. And that goes back to, what is your ICP? And is everyone aligned on that? And if they are aligned on that, then you have to start creating the content that's relevant to it. And then the leads that are coming in, is your MQL scoring, does it align with what the sales people want to see in their sales cycle? Or the opportunities that are being generated by marketing.

Olivier L'Abbé: And if it's not, which I've seen a ton of time, your marketing team is spending the budget according to their plan. But then the sales team is like, "I don't want to talk to these people."

Joe Cantu: Yeah, exactly.

Olivier L'Abbé: So you just wasted a few months and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars targeting the wrong people because there isn't an alignment at the top.

Olivier L'Abbé: So for me, I think that the most critical part of it is to ensure that the sales team and the marketing team are aligned in who they want to target. And then what is qualified as an MQL? What is an SQL? Because if your lead to MQL conversion rate is like 50%, that's pretty darn good. But if your MQL to SQL conversion rate is 10%, there's a problem there.

Olivier L'Abbé: And that is probably because there isn't an alignment at the top. And so given how quickly people are moving on from their roles nowadays, I think it's really important to align as soon as you start your role to make sure that we're talking to the right people. And we have the right things to say to those individuals when they come inbound or when we do generate demand on digital channels.

Joe Cantu: That makes perfect sense. You can definitely understand how there would be those siloed views. And a lot of times it's not even just about getting alignment at the onset, but making sure that there's continual realignment, revisiting. Because I think to your point, there's always a chance for false positives of, "Hey, we drove a ton of leads this week." But if ultimately, they're not paying off on the back end, then you have some unhappy sales people.

Olivier L'Abbé: You do and you wasted a bunch of money and a bunch of time and you can't hit your targets. And I think that's something that a lot of businesses are dealing with. And that's all the more important to the first point I made is if you can preview who you want to advertise to before you advertise to them, then you're going to be able to create better alignment. You're going to say, "Here are the job titles and the companies that we're going to target for you. Sales people, you want to talk to these people? And if not, like let's make some modifications to the audiences." Because that is the first thing that needs to be fine-tuned ahead of the images or the colors that you're using or the words that you're using on these ads. You have to make sure that they're the right people.

Joe Cantu: Yeah. That all makes sense. So, to kind of, I guess, wrap things up with a bow, now that we're thinking of the holiday season. Just kind of walk us back through your points again of what do you see as being those initial checkboxes that need to be marked off for a successful ABM program? And then any thoughts you want to wrap up with, as well.

Olivier L'Abbé: So I mean, the first thing is, you need to look at your historical data, closed won, closed lost conversions, to really figure out what are the best companies and where should we be spending our time? Because depending on your business, there's probably some industries that are not going to be a good fit, not going to convert as well. And so the first exercise that I would do is to look at historical data. And then look at your largest customers, the stickiest customers, the ones that are upselling most often. What are the pains that we're solving for these individuals?

Olivier L'Abbé: And once you have that information, the first thing you do is you go create some content for them. So that you can bring in other individuals that are in a similar situation and they can find through searches on Google or Bing, or what have you, that they can find the content. They come to your website and then you can cookie them and then you can retarget them if they fit your ICP. I think that is probably the most important thing that you can do.

Olivier L'Abbé: And then it's what I like, which is the experimentation part. Changing colors and things like that. I've come to find out that if you put a female on an ad over a male, your conversion rate is 75% higher, which is interesting. I don't know why that is, but anytime our customers are giving us ads, we're like, it might make sense to change the individual on the page, if you want to increase and maximize your conversion rates. So doing experimentation, it does take time, but it definitely is worth it because you're going to be able to generate more pipeline at a cheaper price. And that is something that, I think, most marketers are always looking to improve.

Joe Cantu: Yes.

Olivier L'Abbé: And then, looking at attribution. And so if you are leveraging different channels, you need to understand what is my cost per MQL? What's my cost per opportunity on these channels? And obviously you have different campaign types that you can be running as well. You have demo requests, you have top of funnel content, middle of funnel content. So you need to have a full funnel content strategy. You can't just be asking people for a demo to a cold audience, because you're going to be paying way too much money for that. And so you need top of funnel, bottom of funnel content, mid funnel, etc.

Olivier L'Abbé: And then based on what's happening in Salesforce, the stages are at, then you should be leveraging a sales acceleration campaign. Where you are targeting the buying committee when things are late stages and things like that. I think that historically, people have relied on traffic, they have relied on clicks and impressions. And we've come to find out that doesn't mean that you're going to be able to hit your targets and hit your demand generation goals.

Olivier L'Abbé: You need to be focused on the quality of the leads that you're generating first and foremost.

Joe Cantu: Yeah. That all makes sense. Well, Olivier, thank you again for joining me. As we were hosting this event, we mentioned that Iron Horse is going to make a $5 donation to toys for tots, and you actually stepped up and chose to match it on metadata.io's behalf. So just want to thank you for that in addition to joining us.