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Case study in data-driven B2B customer acquisition marketing

My new book, B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results, is launching in a few weeks. While preparing case studies for book, I had the fun of interviewing a bunch of very smart B2B marketers to learn how they were applying data and analytics to their marketing objectives. One of the most compelling stories came from Doug Sechrist, vice president of demand marketing at Five9, a cloud contact-center software company based in San Ramon, CA. Here’s a sneak peek of Doug’s success in finding new customers using lookalike modeling.

Five9’s solutions provide everything businesses need to run an inbound and/or outbound center for sales and marketing, customer service, or outsourcing, including sophisticated management tools for reporting, recording, workforce management, quality monitoring, and CRM integration.

With responsibility for demand generation, Sechrist is mired in database marketing. “Our approach starts with crafting a data strategy and operationalizing it,” says Sechrist. “First, we target the right accounts. We look at past wins, and the attributes of those customers. We examine those who buy and later become long-term clients.”

In short, Five9 is creating an ideal customer profile, and going out in the market place to find similar accounts, a process known as lookalike modeling. In their search for lookalikes, they identified 6,000-7,000 prospects. “We focus our demand generation marketing on those lookalikes,” says Sechrist.

Attributes that tend to be predictive in the lookalike modeling include:

  • Number of employees in the call center.
  • Presence of a customer service or outbound sales and marketing team.
  • Use of an outbound collections department internally.
  • Use of similar technologies, whether SaaS or on premise.
  • Past purchase of cloud-based software.
  • Competitive technologies installed.
  • Use of “adjacent” or complementary technologies, like a workflow management system.

Five9 also looks at individual personas among their customer base, using a similar process. First they identify the attributes and behaviors of top buyers, using the rich detail that can be found on LinkedIn or other social sites. The personas support the crafting of relevant messages at the right time to sell call center software.

To get a steady stream of lookalike contacts, Sechrist uses Leadspace, which builds models and then scrapes fresh contacts from various websites.  Leadspace contacts are scored based on the desired persona attributes, and then ranked and prioritized for use by the sales team.

In an effort to invest marketing resources wisely, Sechrist built a tiered system of lead distribution.

  • Tier 1, comprising the highest paid and most skilled reps, gets the most relevant matches to the ICP and the highest quality type of leads.
  • Tier 2 is the lead development team, given the next level down of relevant qualified accounts and qualified leads.
  • Tier 3 goes to outsourced programs that help to validate interest and provide a foot in the door to pitch the five9 solution. These programs include campaigns with vendors such as By Appointment Only and Simply Direct’s survey service, which puts together a custom database of prospects based on specific titles and account attributes, and sends short email surveys to senior executives therein.

The next evolution of this program aims to leverage additional technologies and process to identity target accounts as they visit the Five9 website or search on relevant terms in Google or other search engines. Once Five9 can identify such accounts, they can trigger the appropriate content to be delivered to the right persona at the right time, and subsequently engage with buyers that not only match the ideal customer profile, but are exhibiting buying signals for Five9 solutions.

Great approach, isn’t it?  My new book will share nine other cases, too.

Ruth Stevens

Ruth Stevens advises clients on customer acquisition and retention. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the business accelerator in New York City. Ruth is an author and contributor to many notable business publications. Her books include B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results and Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, Trade Show and Event Marketing, and co-author of the white paper series “B-to-B Database Marketing.” Ruth is a sought-after speaker and trainer, and has presented to audiences and business schools in Asia, Australia, and Latin America. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff Davis, and IBM.

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