Category: Buyer Personas

Buyer Personas

What is Technographic Data? (And Why It Matters)

Digital transformation is more than just a buzzword — as noted by Forbes, 70% of companies have already deployed a strategy to improve digital service and solution uptake or are actively working on one.

And, in 2019 alone, enterprises spent more than 2 trillion dollars worldwide to help drive digital adoption and improve overall organizational performance.

For product and service providers in the technology industry, this presents an opportunity: If B2B sales teams can determine where enterprises are struggling with digital transformation initiatives, they can improve targeted marketing efforts and boost total sales.

But how do they bridge the gap between potential conversions and practical insight? Technographic data. In this piece, we’ll break down what technographic is (and isn’t), how companies can collect this data at scale, and why this data is important to help enhance B2B sales efforts.

Let’s get started.

What is Technographic Data?

Technographics is a portmanteau of the words “technology” and “demographics”, and refers to information that describes the use of technology solutions, their adoption rates, and the potential challenges they present for organizations.

The challenge? This technographics definition isn’t terribly useful without context.

First, let’s talk about what technographics isn’t:

Demographic data

Demographic data focuses on information about people — how many people are employed by a specific organization? What points of contact exist? How have companies’ sizes and staff configurations changed over time, and what’s on the horizon. This information is critical to help identify potential leads and develop initial marketing efforts but offers no insight about technology use.

Firmographic data

Firmographic data refers to information such as company size, product offerings, industries served, total revenues and even physical locations. This data is useful to help create targeted campaigns that drive B2B sales interest but doesn’t include technology metrics or measurements.

So what exactly is technographic data? Put simply, it’s the practical application of information about the technology stack used by a prospective customer — everything from the infrastructure and network tools they’re using to the applications they prefer and the adoption rate of these applications at scale.

Effectively used, technographic data can help companies align their product offerings with digital transformation needs and capture client interest.

Worth mentioning? There’s a distinction between pure technographic data and social technographic data. While technographic data speaks to the use of software, hardware, and networking technologies within an organization, social technographic data focuses on the consumption and use of social media technologies within an enterprise.

While this is useful for social marketing efforts, it doesn’t serve the same function as technographic data for B2B marketing efforts.

How to Collect Technographic Data

When it comes to collecting technographic data, three broad methods exist:

1. Surveys

The most direct method of collecting technographic data starts at the source: Staff at target companies. Using phone or email surveys, companies attempt to collect information about how technology is adopted, deployed and used to boost B2B efforts. The challenge? Most companies won’t respond to cold-call surveys, and many aren’t willing to provide specific usage data even via email response templates. While this method may provide some generalized use data, it’s often more trouble than it’s worth.

2. Website Scraping

Website scraping tools extract specific information from corporate websites about the apps and services used by enterprises. Although this may produce more accurate results than survey data and without the need to cold call companies, it requires technical expertise to ensure tools are collecting and reporting relevant data. In addition, security controls on websites may limit the type and amount of data that can be collected, and available information may be out-of-date.

3. Third-party Purchasing

The most straightforward way to obtain technographic data is by purchasing it from a reputable data collection provider. Thanks to the rapid uptake of cloud-based SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS solutions, both service providers and data analytics firms now have access to much more robust and reliable technographic data sets than can be purchased by interested parties.

While there are some limitations on this data collection — for example, personal data must be anonymized to ensure compliance with both local and global privacy legislation — enterprises can access massive amounts of usable technographic data with the right third-party provider.

It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that not every provider is created equal. Some promise massive datasets but can’t deliver, while others can’t offer real-time insight. Best bet? Do your research before contracting any technographic data supplier.

Why Technographic Data is Important

On its own, technographic data offers a window into company technology use. Combined with targeted marketing and sales efforts, meanwhile, this information provides a way to significantly improve conversion outcomes.

Four actionable benefits of technographic data include:

1. Improved Segmentation

With accurate data about the use and deployment of technologies within potential customer organizations, companies can better define granular customer segments based on current needs and ongoing priorities to ensure sales resources are used effectively.

2. Enhanced Specificity

Sales leads are often inundated with pitches for new technologies and services. Technographic data lets sales teams speak to specific problems faced by potential clients and quickly capture their interest.

3. Increased Prioritization

Not all leads have the same potential value to companies. But distinguishing lead priority is difficult, especially in an increasingly competitive technology market. Technographic data can help businesses quickly assess which leads are more likely to spend on new solutions and which need more time.

4. Reduced Lead Time

Speaking of time, news announcements about new technology solutions, mergers and acquisitions or product launches offer jumping-off points for successful sales discussions — but only if teams are equipped with relevant technographic data to help connect the dots between news releases and customer needs.

Tactical Technical Targeting

Technographic data makes it possible for marketing and sales teams to create tactical, targeted campaigns that speak to the real-life issues faced by organizations undergoing digital transformation.

By prioritizing in-situ issues and providing comprehensive solutions for emerging challenges using technographic data, B2B efforts can stand out from the crowd and help drive sustainable client conversion.

Buyer Personas

The Complete Guide to Firmographic Data

Companies are still struggling to improve the reach and reliability of personalized data about potential clients and customers.

Part of the problem is supply — bigger data volumes offer greater insight around B2B and B2C buying preferences both immediately and over time.

But variety also plays a role. While information about individuals at a company (demographics) and the technology they use (technographics) can help enhance marketing and sales outcomes, there’s also a place for firmographics, which are datasets that help businesses effectively segment organizations into meaningful categories.

The challenge? Although this is a great high-level definition, it doesn’t offer much in the way of specifics or actionable strategies.

In this complete guide to firmographics, we’ll define firmographic data with a look at key forms and functions, explore how it’s used for segmentation, and dig into the types of questions that can help your company locate — and leverage — firmographic data.

What is firmographic data?

Demographic data focuses on information tied to individuals. Data such as contact names and customer purchase preferences are examples of demographic assets that can be used to drive targeted marketing campaigns.

Firmographic data shifts the focus to organizations — or firms — to collect and analyze key information about the operation of enterprises themselves. Common firmographic data examples include:

  • Industry type — From manufacturing or logistics organizations to financial, professional or legal service firms, industry type is a key vector for segmentation. Worth noting? Many companies occupy more than one industry vertical and can also occupy multiple firmographic segments.
  • Organizational size — How big is the organization, both in terms of physical location and staff size?
  • Total sales and revenue — Both quarterly and annual information is relevant here. While annual sales and revenue data can drive long-term sales strategies, quarterly results can help pinpoint more immediate needs.
  • Current location — Where is the company headquarters located? How many satellite offices do they have, and where?
  • Ownership framework — Is the company a public organization? A private enterprise? An NGO, charity or non-profit? Each comes with their own unique market approach.
  • Growth trends — Is the company growing, downsizing or maintaining its current market position? All three movement metrics offer opportunity, but must be approached in different ways.

There’s also a crossover segment of firmographic and demographic data as it relates to specific job roles, titles, departments, and potential buying power.

By understanding more about the people responsible for decision-making within an organization along with the operational framework that surrounds them, businesses can better target marketing efforts to receptive audiences with the power to take immediate action.

Benefits of Firmographic Segmentation

The primary goal of firmographic data is to help organizations segment potential B2B customers into meaningful segments, which in turn can reduce the distance between observation and action.

If marketers, sales teams, and C-suites have access to segmented information that classifies prospective clients by size, location, revenue, or current growth trajectory, they don’t need to spend time and effort separating this data before making decisions. Instead, potential purchasing partners are pre-sorted into relevant categories.

Segmentation offers specific benefits for organizations, such as:

1. Improved market targeting.

Understanding the physical and market size of potential B2B buyers can significantly improve sales targeting. Here’s why: Smaller, “mom and pop” businesses don’t have the same needs as larger enterprises — while both are potentially valuable clients, their paths from initial contact to sales conversion are significantly different. For example, while many SMBs want one-size-fits all solutions to help reduce total complexity, many enterprises are after custom-built tools and technologies to help address specific issues.

2. Enhanced customer service.

Leveraging key firmographic data about where companies are located and how their employees are geographically distributed can help improve customer service offerings. Consider a manufacturing firm located entirely within a single state — chances are they’ll prioritize partners that can deliver local service. Multinational firms, meanwhile, often prefer on-demand, distributed digital services.

3. Long-term buying potential.

Companies moving up the market offer the potential for B2B businesses to get in on the ground floor and enjoy increased conversion volume over time. Enterprises that are currently downsizing, meanwhile, also come with sales potential but require a different approach with services that are both cost-effective in the short term and can scale over time as revenue targets evolve.

Key Firmographic Questions

So how do you gather firmographic data that’s relevant to your brand and can help drive corporate success? It all starts with asking the right questions. Commonly-used queries include:

  • When was the company founded?
  • How many employees in total does the company have?
  • How many staff at each office or satellite location?
  • What is the company’s revenue per year?
  • What percentage of their target market share does the company currently have?
  • Are they currently in a growth phase, downsizing or remaining relatively consistent?
  • What does their organizational structure look like (flat leadership, standard hierarchy, etc.)

When it comes to collecting firmographic data, you’ve got three broad options: Survey companies directly, conduct online reconnaissance or purchase firmographic information from a data clearinghouse or similar service.

All three come with potential benefits and drawbacks. For example, while surveys offer the most accurate firmographic information, many companies prefer not to share this data — especially if you’re taking a “cold call” approach.

Online searches, meanwhile, can turn up a host of useful firmographic data but there’s no guarantee about its accuracy or relevance; the actionable value of data gathered this way depends heavily on the source and the date the information was obtained.

Purchasing data from a reputable seller provides the most accurate and up-to-date option, but prices vary significantly and it’s worth cross-referencing this information with publicly available sources to ensure sellers are consistently accurate.

Finding a Firm(ographic) Foundation

Timely, accurate and actionable “graphic” data — demographic, technographic, and firmographic — can help B2B organizations create custom-built sales and marketing strategies and improve overall conversion rates.

To ensure firmographic frameworks deliver intended outcomes, it’s critical for companies to focus on both segmentation forms and decision-making functions.

By asking the right questions, accurately segmenting potential customers and using this data to inform sales and marketing efforts, companies can reduce the time between information and action while simultaneously increasing sales success.

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