How Data Can Serve Inbound and Outbound Marketers Targeting SMBs
Enigma’s sales and marketing customers have consistently been frustrated with the state of available data on small and medium businesses (SMBs). To dive deeper into why, the Enigma team interviewed over 50 sales and marketing leaders at financial services, merchant services, and verticalized SaaS companies.
In these engagements, we explored marketing and sales teams’ workflows and challenges, and asked what their ideal solutions might look like.
One thing that became clear for us – and the impetus behind several ensuing product releases – was the big gap between desired capabilities for using data in sales and marketing and what the market currently offers.
In this post, we’ll dive into the challenges inherent in inbound and outbound marketing to SMBs and the data solutions needed to solve them. In Part Two of our series, we’ll look at the challenges sales and customer success associates face in account management.
Let’s get started!
Inbound lead prioritization
Most of the marketing teams from smaller companies we spoke with saw themselves as an inbound-first marketing team. For these companies, a typical customer acquisition flowed like this:
Visit: User arrives on the company's website.
Signup: User signs up with an email and potentially additional information about themself (business name, size, etc.) and becomes an inbound lead.
Lead prioritization and resource allocation: Company tracks engagement on the inbound lead through actions like clicks on content. More advanced marketing teams create a lead score - when the user gets a certain lead score, they are routed to sales and different kinds of engagement depending on score.
However, across each of these steps, marketing and sales team faced common challenges. During signups, companies struggled with both junk signups – non-operating businesses, spam, etc. – and an inability to identify great signups from the chaff. Given the rampant increase in fraud, especially in financial services, some junk signups end up being actively malicious. Other valuable leads sign up with only a personal email address and marketing teams fail to realize they have come from a desired account or may be a good prospect.
One Enigma customer on a financial services marketing team pointed out that over 90% of sign-ups end up taking no further action or are ineligible for workflows. Another said, “We get a firehouse of leads from web sign-ups and the biggest morale killer for my team is to call after hundreds of leads that just aren’t eligible for our financial products. You just kind of give up.”
After signups, when marketing teams were trying to prioritize leads they also struggled with finding an objective truth about the information inputted by inbound leads. Information inputted by companies themselves wasn’t necessarily true. Third-party data sources that marketing leaders tried out in the past, meanwhile, had low coverage into their leads and didn’t help with conversion. Without enough data or the correct data, marketing teams had difficulties creating a lead score, sometimes relying more on gut instinct.
Enigma worked with these marketing and sales teams to think through potential solutions. Our engagements showed that there was a lot of low-hanging fruit that marketing teams could take advantage of to internally optimize their workflows. Sales and marketing teams were particularly excited by external data solutions such as:
Size of individual merchants: Having a sense of a merchant’s size was considered key to scanning through leads quickly and prioritizing the best ones.
Accurate revenues, transaction sizes, and payment processing stats for individual merchants: Many leads drop from sales and marketing flows if asked to provide banking or financial information too early on. Pre-permissioned data – that doesn’t require an immediate ask of bank connections or three months of bank statements – could help marketing teams keep valuable leads that might otherwise drop off.
Holistic lead scoring: When sales and marketing teams rushed to develop lead scores – without holistic data – prospects weren’t prioritized properly or didn’t convert. With both an objective, third-party view into a merchant’s value as well as internal data on engagement, sales and marketing teams are able to better allocate resources based on data, not gut.
Outbound lead prioritization
Fewer sales and marketing teams we spoke to had as mature of an outbound motion as they did inbound. Teams with a mature outbound motion were larger or had a very specific target in mind like an industry vertical or a revenue band. Outbound marketing was also more popular among vertical SaaS companies.
Outbound marketing – defined as creating an account list and specifically going after these named accounts with direct mail, email, events, tailored outbounds, etc. – typically followed the workflow below:
Define Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) universe. ICP mostly defined by industry, revenue size, etc.
Retrieve ICP business list: Get list of businesses in ICP universe or filter list of all businesses down to ICP
Get contact info: Find ways to contact businesses to prospect against such as addresses for direct mail marketing and emails for email marketing
Search for intent: More advanced marketing teams sought to use trigger data and narrowing and targeting to businesses that have a high intent. For example, highly seasonal businesses looked for working capital to build inventory before the high season.
Once again, challenges faced by teams were relatively consistent.
When defining an ICP universe, marketing teams are tasked with asking strategic questions - Who should we be targeting? Who do we want to target? What do we need to build to expand our target market? Early on, it’s easy to be anecdotal, but as customer bases grow many teams wanted to incorporate data into their decision making. Without data, these teams were worried they were missing changing or new affinities from their potential customer bases.
Said one customer, “We think we have an idea of who would want to use us, but at any level deeper than a few sentences, it’s pretty anecdotal.”
Then, when retrieving ICP businesses, marketing teams struggled to answer what criteria they should prioritize on and where to get the information to make these decisions. How could they get an overview of the full SMB universe to cherry pick leads that met their ICP?
After teams found the businesses they wanted to target, they were then tasked with getting contact info. Contact accuracy was considered key for outbound marketers, however, many found outdated addresses or names. Enigma’s team was surprised to learn how many times front-line sales and marketing reps were asked to call businesses that had shut down already, for example.
Marketing and sales team also wanted more information to signal intent – data that could help teams discover when a SMB might be looking for the services they were offering and when they were looking for it. Teams wanted data for “triggers” and “buyer intent” – key events in a business or a business owner’s lifecycle that indicated when a business might be most open to a new service.
When launching their sales and marketing campaigns, financial services and merchant services providers mentioned the need for transaction-level intelligence, from POS systems used to accurate revenue growth rates in order to create specialized offers. They wanted to give the best prospects pre-qualification and special offers.
Said one payment processor sales representative, “If I can find prospects who are paying too much on their current POS system and are processing over 1M a year, and give them a $5,000 cash bonus to switch over to me, I can win them over half of the time.”
Once again, Enigma and these marketing teams discussed potential solutions like:
Objective truth into the entire SMB landscape to define ICP: A third party view of the entire customer with data on industries, sub-industries, sizes, etc.
Answers to how to choose the best businesses to outbound: Teams wanted something similar to Facebook’s and LinkedIn lookalike populations but that they could directly download and use for their outbounding.
Contact info to reach SMBs: Accurate contacts that are verified and trusted across all channels - people, titles, emails, phone, address.
The Role of Data
For outbound prospecting, contact accuracy across all mediums is a colossal pain point. More so, figuring out the best population to prospect – due to a recent event in the business’s lifecycle or similarities to the current customer base – is critical. For both inbound and outbound prospecting, we share our merchant services customers’ zeal for understanding prospects’ current payment or POS systems.
We’re excited to share our insights with you and are asking you to keep an eye out for May 10, 2023, when we showcase the Enigma SMB sales and marketing data platform built for financial services, merchant services, and vertical SaaS.
Want to learn more? In Part Two we discuss the challenges that financial services marketers and sales teams face after customers are acquired in account management.