ABM Playbook

Intent-data powered ABM

In this episode of Let's Talk ABM, we talk to Jon Clarke, CEO of Cyance on how to use intent data in ABM for true zero-waste marketing.

Date published: Date modified: 2021-02-04 strategicabm 550 60

Jon Clarke
CEO, Cyance

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Jon is CEO of Cyance, a leading behaviour-based marketing technology company. Its platform, Nexus, harnesses artificial intelligence to interpret and understand user behaviour on over 50,000 websites and translates these digital footprints into sales and marketing intelligence to accelerate sales pipeline and client engagement.

Declan heads up marketing at strategicabm. After some 20 years working as a CMO in the Professional Services, SaaS and EdTech sectors, Declan is now Agency-side building the Strategic IC brand and sharing our clients’ ABM success stories.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • How Cyance delivers zero-waste marketing  
  • The role of Cyance in your ABM tech stack 
  • How intent data accelerates sales pipeline creation  
  • Intent data as a client engagement strategy
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Intent-data powered ABM

The full transcript

Declan (Strategic IC) - So, Jon, thanks for joining us today. We're living through some extraordinary times at the moment. What have you learned over the last few weeks?

Jon (Cyance) - Yeah, I mean, it's definitely unprecedented times Dec, that's for sure. I think we all realise that. I guess what I've learned on a personal level, and on more of a macro level is that there's been a huge adjustment that most of us are all going through, have gone through. And that, on a personal level, has been around my goodness, what's happening in the world?

What does this mean to my family, my health, and my loved ones, and then my job and my career, and adjusting from being office-based to being home-based, not only from my point of view, but the team as a whole has been a significant change. And a lot of us are all have been going through that and have gone through it. I mean, we're into our fifth week now of working from home, and that's been interesting to say the least.

I actually think it's working really well for us, but there's been a massive adjustment that everybody has and is going through and as a consequence, there's been a lot of, everything's up in the air and has been for some time.

What I have seen though because we've purposely spent as much time as we possibly can speaking to as many of our customers, as many of our agency partners just to really understand what's going on in their world. And I think what that has been on a human level, very much the shared consensus feeling.

There is very much now thinking around, right, what is important to us, to our business, to our customers. What must we absolutely do, despite everything that is going on in a chaotic way in the world? And the consensus we're getting is that, yes, we understand that there isn't going to be a lot of acquiring of new business, particularly from new customers for now, but what we've really got to double down on is making sure we really look after our customers, understand their challenges, and don't lose them.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah.

Jon (Cyance) - We do as much as we can to support them through this very difficult time, and that's really kind of the common theme that we get from everybody that we've been speaking to.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, and linked to that John, well it's been a lot of talk on LinkedIn and other platforms about whether or not now is the time to be selling. What's your take on that?

Jon (Cyance) - Yeah, I think our view is, it's probably not the right time to be selling, just now. I think the time now is really about sending out positive messages, giving hints and tips and ideas that can help us individually and collectively navigate through these choppy waters.

Declan (Strategic IC) - All right. 

Jon (Cyance) - I think that for me feels like the right thing to do. And that's certainly the sense that we get from a lot of our customers that we're talking to in terms of what they're doing right now. I think that it's ethically as well,

I think it's not the right thing to be doing, to be selling to people. I mean, we've really pulled back on our marketing that it is all around, that could be perceived as being trying to sell and be opportunistic. I think that's just not right now, particularly in what's going on in the world, but absolutely reinforcing best practice, how to do things better, more efficiently, because the reality is, if your budget hasn't been squashed by now, it will be pretty soon. We're all going to have to do more with less, certainly less budget  And so going forward, finding out how we can still be effective as individuals, but also as functions in our businesses that we work for is absolutely critical. So we get a sense that if you can help people to understand and navigate through these difficult times, that feels like the right thing to do.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, and so let's talk about data, obviously Cyance, and obviously your platform Nexus with its intent data features. How does that play now with regards to the approaches you're taking, or your clients or your agency partners are taking with regards to customers, and new client acquisition, etc?

Jon (Cyance) - Yeah, it's a really good point. I think the point I mentioned earlier on, doing more with less is the key here. It's all about efficiency. If you're in a marketing perspective, you've really got to think about well, what customers do I engage with and when and why? And at some point in the near future, you are going to have to think about acquisition again, when things start to calm down a little bit, and the economy, maybe, when the restrictions are relieved to a degree, and the economy starts to pick up because we're all in here to support our businesses, and to keep our jobs, and we need to think about that.

And if we're in this world where efficiency, productivity is absolutely critical, having the insights to be able to determine where you spend your time, effort, and the budget you have left is absolutely sacrosanct and vital. And we have a unique set of insights and data that enables companies to do exactly that. So, we're tracking millions, hundreds of millions of companies around the globe, when they go online to visit over 55,000 publisher websites. And when they're doing some level of research, and engaging with content on those websites, we can pick up that behaviour, attribute it to those organisations.

And what that does is it provides early warning signals for our customers and for our partners to establish when those customers that they have, or those prospects that they want to win as customers, look like, that they are potentially in a relevant buying journey, or they're researching particular topics that suggest they may have a particular need. And what that means is that you can then really hone in on with laser precision and zero waste the opportunities that are most likely to convert, and that's absolutely vital.

Takes out a lot of the noise and the guesswork in terms of how you consider engaging with your customers, and making sure that you personalise with them, and send out the right message, or the right proposition at the right time.

Declan (Strategic IC) - What are the some of the best use cases that you have seen with regard to  how intent data is activated?

Jon (Cyance) - So it depends on what you're, what you're trying to do-  if you're trying to engage with existing customers. We've seen some, or whether you trying to acquire. So if I take the first one in terms of acquiring existing customers, there's a spectrum. We see some really innovative organisations doing some very clever stuff on a one-to-one ABM perspective, as well as right through to a kind of a one-to-many.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah.

Jon (Cyance) - The other end of the spectrum. And it's different uses of intent to support both those use cases on an engagement level. So on a one-to-one level, we've seen some really interesting innovations whereby they tend to be tracking larger companies. So global organisations with lots of thousands, tens of thousands of employees, sometimes hundreds of thousands of employees. And if you're then trying to increase your engagement and the intelligence around lots of different people, lots of different decision-making units in that single very large enterprise, that in itself is very labour intensive, it's very challenging. But you can still pick up on some really clever insights by tracking the behaviour inside those companies, even on a regional basis, and understand and interpret what that behaviour means.

So mapping that behaviour to your own value propositions, or your products, and establishing what stage of the buying journey is really, really critical. And what we've seen where some really great use of those insights have driven great results, is where there's been a link between that behaviour, typically picked up in the marketing function, that interpretation around okay, what does that suggest? What stage of the journey? How can we align our messaging around particular value propositions?

And then start to think about how we engage with the right people inside those companies at that time using tools like LinkedIn, for example, using activation into display advertising, whereby you can connect the dots between behaviour, need, and your message that is on point, and delivering that in a very cohesive way across those different channels to start the conversation, raise awareness, build up credibility and trust, and then ultimately convert that into something that's really tangible. Now, it doesn't matter to me whether you're doing it on a one-to-one, or a one-to-many basis, the challenge is still the same, is that, okay, I've got a broad audience to go after, either in one organisation, 'cause it's global, there are lots of decision making units, and lots of people I need to interact with, or if I'm on a one-to-many use case, yes the number of people inside of each organisation may be less, but I'm spreading it across lots of different companies.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah.

Jon (Cyance) - Either way, you've got to pinpoint who you focus on and why, and drive that efficiency, and not use that spray and pray approach, which is perhaps what companies have done before now.

Declan (Strategic IC) - So in fact, the intent data, and obviously Cyance, and your platform Nexus is allowing organisations to, as you were saying, to laser-focus or laser-target either their clients' acquisition strategy or indeed which clients that they currently have, which ones are showing more or less intent around your solutions?

Jon (Cyance) - Absolutely, and it's the same for engagement as it is for acquisition. Acquisition is sometimes the primary objective for many B2B organisations. But engagement is also a

really good use of intent, because the old adage that it costs a lot less to drive business through your existing customers than it does winning new, is still valid. But in both cases, you need to be super-efficient, and you need to make sure you've got insights that justify you spending time, money, and effort, whether you're focusing on engagement in companies or you're acquiring new ones.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah.

Jon (Cyance) - It's the same principle, and you're actually doing the same things, it's just in a slightly different context.

Declan (Strategic IC) - And I figure that intent data you alluded to earlier, is also then informing the content strategy, the messaging strategy, etc, right?

Jon (Cyance) - Totally, absolutely, because if you, it's all well and good that

you pick up on those insights, and you can then - okay yeah, I can tell, or I've got a good feel for the fact that that behaviour inside that company means they have a particular need that is aligned to this product or this value proposition. Do you now have something to say that is going to be relevant and poignant and is going to create or

start the conversation? And so you need to be able to map that behaviour to need and to your messaging, and your content that you have, and also identify if you've got any gaps.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah.

Jon (Cyance) - So even before you've executed any form of campaign, just doing this exercise on a macro level, to understand the sentiment in your marketplace from a planning and a strategy perspective is really important. But absolutely then use those insights to drive your prioritisation around your campaigns, establish if you've got the content that you need, where are the gaps? Can you fill them? And then you're ready to do something about it, and then turn that insight into something actionable, and start the engagement, the conversation with your customers, or your prospects.

Declan (Strategic IC) - And of course, this isn't just for marketing, right? This is also for sales.  I mean, some of the kind of the times that we've seen the best, and the most effective use of intent data is when obviously the sales teams actually have access to this data.

Jon (Cyance) - Absolutely. Absolutely, and we're, I've always been an advocate of marketing and sales working in concert with each other. There's always been, in some organisations, to some degree, a degree of friction between marketing and sales, and I absolutely think that the coming together of those two functions is vital for every successful B2B organisation, particularly in the current climate.

There's no excuse for it not to happen right now. And the ones that don't do that will really struggle. And so, informing sales around what's going on inside their accounts, whether there are existing customers, and they're managing relationships, and farming and retaining, or whether they are looking at acquiring and winning new ones.

Having that intelligence, that insight, and feeding that into the sales function, and in the right way, so not overwhelming them with complexity and too much detail, but giving them the real nuggets, the golden nuggets, they're going to help make a difference for them, and that they can do something about is absolutely critical. And the companies that get that bit right will be the ones that, I believe, will be the most successful in the future, particularly in the world that we now live in.

And where I see some real innovation in that happening is that there's sort of that the marketing and sales partnership is working effectively using intent, using insights to be able to do exactly that. That they collaborate from a marketing and a sales perspective to interact with those decision-making units when they see that behaviour taking place.

And one of the stats that I always refer to at this point is that, and we've seen this through the industry research that we've undertaken, it's not just what we see, that when you're spotting opportunity from intent, and you've then made that connection between your value propositions and that behaviour, and they're in that early stage activity phase when marketing and sales are working together to interact with the individuals within that buying group when they're at that beginning of that journey, they got an increase as much as 70% of converting it through to a sale, whereas if you don't do that, and it's just marketing, engaging, and sales not being part of the conversation, and then sales saying no, only give this opportunity when it's bank qualified.

By definition, if that's true bank qualification, that's a late-stage opportunity, if then sales only get involved, and that customer has moved through to the late stages of the buying journey, they've already made their decision, probably with one of your competitors, and you're just going to be benchmarked. Your probability to close is reduced by 70%. So it's absolutely vital if you take that through to its natural conclusion that picking up on those early-stage behaviours, making that connection between need your value proposition, your content and marketing and sales coming together to interact at that early opportunity will mean that more companies will be successful.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, I mean, we're all definitely seeing, and John, in terms of how we as an agency are working with our marketing teams, and our sales teams, and actually getting sales involved a lot earlier in the process really, both through social selling campaigns or through actual outreach to prospects as well. We're definitely seeing that with the data we can use from the intent platform, we're definitely seeing an uptake in engagement, and more conversations be produced actually.

Jon (Cyance) - Yeah.

Declan (Strategic IC) - So a question for you actually, you're at home, obviously there, I'm sitting at home here, we're all at home in these rather extraordinary times that we're living through at the moment. Talk to me a little bit about how your platform works with regards to obviously intent, and what maybe separates you from other vendors in this space.

Jon (Cyance) - Yeah, sure, so, I think, essentially the way it works, and I alluded to it a bit earlier on, we're tracking over 55,000 publisher websites around the globe, and we have the ability that when people inside organizations, in an anonymous way, because we're living in this world where privacy is absolutely critical, post-GDPR, and that all the laws around cookies and everything else is changing, and evolving on a regular basis. And it's all about privacy and our own individual rights. So a lot of this is anonymous, and it has to be consented. And that's the first instance. So if you go to a publisher website, you see these consents popping up, you have to opt-in, okay, that's the first thing. And you're still anonymous, and you're not able to reveal that, who that individual is and identify them. And then actually what we're doing at this particular point in time is we have technology that just makes the link between that device and the company, and the location at that particular point.

And it really, once we've done that through our technology, essentially what we do is we analyse the content that they engage with on those websites. So did they just view and then walk away? Or did they like and share it? Did they download some content? And what are they looking at? And we're able to actually scan that content running through natural language processing algorithms to understand the semantic meaning. And that's where we pick up our intent. And so firstly, we've got a fairly unique data set, particularly for Europe that is wider and deeper than any other vendor in the marketplace.

And that gives us real points of differentiation. But the really interesting thing about the techniques that we use is it doesn't matter whether you're, that these individuals are doing some research at home. And then before the restrictions they could've been in their office, they could've been in a hotel, in a cafe, it doesn't really matter to us, because we still can make that association between that device and that company in that particular location. So the fact that we're all now working from home doesn't change that.

That association is still there, and in fact whilst we have seen at a macro level, a slight decline in overall activity, actually it's picking up again because I think as more and more people have got their head around crikey, what's happening in the world, I'm working from home and adjusting, they're actually spending a lot of time online. I don't know if you've seen the LinkedIn stats that are out there, that LinkedIn usage is through the roof. And we're seeing a lot of online activity now really creeping back up. And there's still a lot of research being undertaken. And, it doesn't disrupt our offering in any way, shape, or form.

Declan (Strategic IC) - And obviously one of the kinds of key benefits of your platform is the fact that you can actually target the individual that's actually conducting that search.

Jon (Cyance) - Yep, yep.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Obviously it's incredibly novel.

Jon (Cyance) - Absolutely, and that's really important because it's all about being able to protect user privacy, but at the same time be helpful, and relevant, and timely. And that's a key function of what GDPR is trying to do, the bottom line in terms of the fundamental principle. And so, if you can see that there is some research being undertaken inside a particular organisation, and let's just say it's an enterprise company, even if it's mid-market company, you've still got to work out, okay, how do I then go off and speak to certain people, how do I engage with them, whether it's through LinkedIn, calling them, or whatever I'm sending, a direct mail to try and start the conversation.  It's really important to try and really hone in on who those individuals might well be. 

And so a way that we can do that digitally, when you build your audiences inside our platform, so you can say, right, these companies or this company I'm interested in is showing some behaviour that suggests I need to, there's something of interest for me to do something about it. We can help you to onboard your audiences into a display campaign, into display advertising platform. And then because it's cookie-based, it means that we can enable those audiences to be synced with the display platform, and you can then send them a message, an ad that is linked to the behaviour. And when they click on the ad and end up on your landing page, we can pick that behaviour up. And that means that you stand a better chance of sending the right message to the right individuals at the right time, and then track when they're starting to engage with your brand and your content.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah. John, thank you, fascinating talking to you today about intent, and learning more about Cyance, and obviously Nexus, your platform. Thanks very much for your time today.

Jon (Cyance) - Thank you.