Where Do You Start Your Demand Waterfall?
Last week, SiriusDecisions announced a new revision to their framework for marketing and sales, the Demand Waterfall. The Waterfall is a more detailed version of the classic funnel, and very focused on aligning marketing and sales. This new revamp added two new stages (Target Demand and Active Demand) that reflect the evolution of B2B engagement.
The real “new” news around the Waterfall is for both marketing and sales to think, plan, execute, and measure against Buying Groups and Demand Centers at each stage.
If you ever accompany a good salesperson working his or her way into a large account, you will notice how he/she is always looking for stakeholders and influencers to build the buying committee. It’s well known that there are close to seven decision makers involved in an average B2B deal, and those separate influencers can be any of seven different types. The Demand Waterfall challenges marketers to identify and market to these stakeholders.
While Buying Groups make decisions for each individual product sale, Demand Centers are the same concept extended to a portfolio sale (think a sale involving Microsoft Office plus Microsoft SQL Server plus Microsoft Server). Whichever of the two you need to go after, the first step is to identify the specific people that constitute these Demand Centers. We can safely consider these our targeted “personas.” Since, according to Forrester, 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep, it is becoming critical to identify these stakeholders before they enter your marketing database.
Furthermore, you can’t spam the whole Demand Center with the same message. The Infrastructure Security persona needs to be nurtured very differently from the Virtual Infrastructure Admin persona, for example.
A.I. as the identification solution
Seeing these problems firsthand is what prompted us to start MarianaIQ back in 2013. To be able to market to generate revenue, one needs to identify the specific people in the Demand Center, and market to them from top-of-the-funnel to opportunity to renewal. With 100M B2B professionals in the US alone, and a 1-2M average-size lead database replete with dirty data in each B2B marketing automation system, this is easier said than done. The proliferation of channels makes it even harder to execute a consistent and personalized marketing strategy.
This is where Artificial Intelligence comes to the rescue. AI can scourge through all the data on the web, identify the Demand Centers of each account at scale, and enable personalized omni-channel messaging. It’s why we developed proprietary AI-based technology to analyze your historical data, contacts at closed/won accounts, and automatically discover the Demand Centers you’ve been selling to.
Our Deep Learning platform integrates with Salesforce, Marketo, and Pardot to extract your data automatically, if necessary. This results in AI-built buyer and influencer personas in each Demand Center which are very actionable, unlike those generated by most marketing agencies or even in-house lead gen teams, since those are typically simplistic and difficult to update.
Using these AI-built personas, we can spot a Demand Gen Marketer who’s interested in ABM as they enter your funnel…though we can’t predict if they drink a mocha java at 9 A.M. every day. Yet.
Furthermore, we’ve seen that titles alone don’t have the relevance we need, and can even be misleading, so one needs to look at their B2B interests to decide what messaging will work for a given target persona. As an example, we’ve seen that 80% of the people fulfilling the role of “Cloud Architect” don’t use the words Cloud or Architect; instead, they’ll call themselves a Principal Engineer, MTS 4, Staff Software Engineer or another title.
As one customer told us, using strict titles in their lead gen got them very low coverage, but using more title terms got them half the world, and neither is optimal. This is where AI allows us to semantically understand the similarity of various title phrases and correlation of titles and interests, so we can use both to accurately map people to personas.
Nurturing them to conversion
Once we identify the Demand Centers, the specific targets within them need to be nurtured from top of the Waterfall to a closed/won deal. We enable that through actions across the Waterfall:
1. Marketers run personalized top-of-the-funnel campaigns on the highest engagement channels (Facebook, Google Adwords, Twitter, Email) to increase awareness and bring in live, qualified leads. Rather than relying on the more consumer-like interests profiled on these platforms, we restrict the audiences to the specific people in the Demand Centers we identify. Our customers have seen 4x as many qualified leads for the same budget by following this approach. Further down the Waterfall, these leads have converted to SQLs at a 30% higher rate.
2. Once inside the marketing database, marketers can continue to run nurture campaigns on social, Adwords and email campaigns to increase engagement and graduate people into being MQLs. By combining social with email, we have shown 2-3x increase in email CTR along with significant social engagement.
3. Finally, as opportunities are created, marketers run targeted account campaigns each quarter, to engage stakeholders with very specific messages and help close deals faster.