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AnteriadJuly 9, 20187 min read

Third-Party Data is Essential to Identifying Targets in ABM Strategy

It’s easy to just stick with what you know. But the comfort of staying in familiar territory comes at the cost of missing out on new opportunities. I am often reminded of this when I talk to Marketing teams about incorporating third-party data, such as B2B Intent signal monitoring, into their Account-Based Marketing (AMB) strategies.

Marketers, in particular, can develop blinders when it comes to the current named account list and first-party data they invest so much time and effort cultivating. It’s natural. People instinctively trust their own data (a little more on this later), and your named account list is more than just a data-driven opportunity matrix – it’s a reflection of your company’s aspirations.

It’s easy to get locked into this narrow view of your market. Believe me, as someone who has managed Sales teams his whole career, I know.

Third-Party Data Is Underutilized in Identifying New B2B Accounts

A much-publicized survey last year from Openprise reported that only about half of respondents used third-party data to help identify new account targets. And fewer than half said they were using third-party b2b intent data to help fuel ABM strategies.

These findings can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that ABM, while gaining traction, is still not fully implemented at many businesses. But the idea that so many Marketers are missing out on the power of third-party B2B data, particularly Intent signal monitoring services such as those provided via our InsightBASE account acceleration platform, blows my mind, frankly.

Your business lives and dies by finding new markets. And third-party customer Intent data is a powerful, revolutionary new tool to ensure you don’t miss the chance to engage with accounts that are ready to talk.

It’s a Big Internet Out There

Look, you operate only a handful of web properties that promote your product or service. But there are likely 3,000 or more similar sites where your prospects are researching purchase decisions. They’re also downloading whitepapers, attending webinars and talking with their peers on social media.

All of this activity clearly illustrates an intent to buy that should result in new targets being added to your account list.

Case in point: Our customer Imprivata used third-party b2b Intent data “as something of a secret weapon” when it saw 700 spikes of Intent signals at an account that was currently not in its pipeline. Marketing added the account to the mix, and Sales engaged.

Third-party buyer Intent data can optimize every aspect of your ABM campaigns – from personalized content to Sales call prioritization – but the ability to identify new accounts that are interested in your product or service is among the most powerful.

Marketers are catching on – SiriusDecision’s Matt Senatore recently told us that he expects spending on Intent monitoring services to grow 33 percent this year. But if only about half of Marketers are using third-party B2B data to identify new targets, there’s obviously a long way to go.

I’ll add a note here that while I am primarily discussing third-party Intent Data monitoring services in this post, high-quality third-party leads are also a great way to expand your account list. And I’d be a poor salesman if I didn’t mention that our own BehaviorLEADS demand-gen service is augmented by Intent monitoring technology.

Overall, I’d say that in today’s data-intensive B2B Marketing landscape, about two-thirds of your customer data should be coming from third-party sources. That’s a big departure from focusing entirely on your first-party data, but B2B trends clearly show that buyers are more self-directed and well-informed than ever before, and you need to have a 360-degree view of their online activity.

Buyer Intent Data Is Essential

I’m not alone in saying that third-party B2B Intent data is essential to identifying target accounts. As we often note, SiriusDecision last year added third-party Intent as a required component of the Active Demand phase of its Demand Unit Waterfall ABM framework.

This post at Chief Marketer suggests that you need to compare your current list of target accounts with an independent (i.e., third-party) list of accounts in your market, and then supplement your list with third-party data.

Our own RK Maniyani recently discussed how B2B Intent data monitoring services can help your team in calculating your Total Addressable Market (TAM), a common sore spot for ABM adopters. This is an essential and time-consuming process (for a little background, check out this helpful walkthough of TAM calculation from SiriusDecisions).

The ‘Made Here’ Effect

The data that drives your B2B Marketing campaigns comes from a wide variety of sources, as this post at eMarketer spells out. While the post advises that third-party customer Intent data is an essential part of your data mix, it also points to a survey from Informa Edge indicates that data from a company’s own CRM and customer surveys are still the dominant influences on Marketing efforts (84 percent), followed by site registrations (76 percent). Online behavior indicators were cited by only 25 percent of respondents.

So, there’s still a clear preference among Marketers for using first-party data to engage with known accounts, and less emphasis on growing the list of targets.

As I said earlier, Marketer’s preference for first-party data is understandable. They created this data, after all, and more importantly, they have complete control over it. Marketers can carefully craft first-party opt-in terms to be absolutely sure they are operating within the scope of their agreement with contacts. They also know exactly how an opted-in first party contact responded to last week’s survey, and can precisely executing a campaign against that data.

Ultimately, that’s the end game for any B2B customer journey, of course. But focusing too heavily on your first-party list can result in fatigue. Marketing efforts can become redundant, even regurgitive, as your team keeps making the same ask to the same contacts, instead of looking for new, interested accounts to engage. (I feel I need to include a mea culpa here from the Sales side, which often pushes Marketers to keep nagging those aspirational accounts, even when the response may not warrant it.)

You Can Trust B2B Marketing Data Providers

There’s also the issue of trusting B2B data companies to provide accurate data that’s aligned with the first-party data already in your marketing systems and CRMs. This misgiving is understandable, but not based on the actual facts.

More than half (56 percent) of B2B Marketers who do employ third-party data said they were “very satisfied” with their providers in the Openprise survey I cited earlier. However, survey respondents said that when conflicts between third-party and first-party do arise (typically this happens with augmented contact or firmographic data), they overwhelmingly tend to trust their own data. In fact, only one in five update or reconcile their first-party records if they conflict with newer third-party information.

This, despite the indisputable body of research that shows first-party data tends to be old and out-of-date, decaying at a rate of 30 percent a year.

This points to a bias toward first-party data that’s probably at the root of over-reliance on inhouse sources of account identification and other key marketing activities.

Trust me -- third-party B2B marketing data providers, including ourselves here at Anteriad, employ a series of data hygiene and quality checks on our demand gen and Intent Data solutions that most Marketing teams simply can’t replicate.

Data is our business; you can trust us. And we offer a breadth of data and insight that first-party Marketing activities simply can’t replicate.

Third-Party Data Is Essential to Marketing Success

Intent Data monitoring and other third-party data services create enormous opportunities for B2B Marketing teams to grow your target account list. Markers must continue to move beyond their preference for first-party data and embrace all sources of customer intelligence to fuel their ABM strategies and win new business.

If you're interested in reading more from Ken Stout, check out his other articles: