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B2B Growth Marketing

What is Predictive Marketing?

  • January 11 2016
  • Galen Dow
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And why as a B2B marketer should you care?

B2B marketing has changed significantly in the last few years, and these changes are accelerating. We are seeing a consolidation around integrated solutions such as the merger of Marketing Automation Platforms with CRM Solutions to produce Sales & Marketing Automation systems. Putting aside the question of whether or not Sales or Marketing is, or should be truly 'automated', the integration of Marketing and Sales systems provides us with a momentus opportunity.

You’ve probably read the statistic that 70% of the buyer’s journey is now online. (The source of this study, SiriusDecisions actually puts it at 67%). Inbound Marketing capitalizes on this change in behavior to ensure that your products and solutions are easy to find via search and that you provide a natural, self-serve learning curve to your prospective customers.

What is often overlooked is that as a result of this change in behavior and integration of technologies, is that much of the buyer’s journey is now measurable at a granular level.

If you pay attention to B2B content, you'll be familiar with the emergence of Predictive Marketing. Most Predictive Marketing vendors cite their ability to compare profiles of existing customers with 3rd party data sets that will help you to profile leads very early in the Demand Generation process. This is great for Enterprise Class companies with huge volumes of data and enough resources to crack this code.

What about SMB and MMB B2B firms? Is there a way for us to get at something like 'Predictive Marketing'?

You Can Have a Form of Predictive Marketing Too

As you get your Inbound Marketing and Inbound Sales house in order, you are building a connected solution that over time enables you to have unprecedented visibility up the funnel. With careful planning and organization or in some cases leveraging HubSpots new Advertising App you can map the traffic flow beyond your SEO based visitors and leads to include your paid efforts.

If you are taking steps towards Sales & Marketing Alignment, then you have well developed Lead Stage Definitions. When you have reached the point that you are measuring leads against an objective, widely accepted standard then you can start to measure conversion points at discrete points in your funnel. For many customers, as your lead generation machine settles into a rythm, your conversion rates at these discrete funnel points normalize and become somewhat predictable. If you have reached this point in your B2B marketing, then you can take advantage of the predictable nature of your funnel by projecting 'both ways' up and down your funnel.

In other words, if you have well known conversion rates, you can work up the funnel from a desired level of sales and back into a decent estimate of what you need to do for marketing to reach your goals. In the same vein, with a quantification of how many leads are at each stage, and a good estimate of conversion rates, you can put a dollar value on your funnel all the way back to anonymous visitors.

Don't know what your conversion rates are? You are in good company, many companies have yet to define and quantify their lead flow.

You can start with your Lead Stage Definitions by taking advantage of our CMO Guide to Lead Scoring.

You can get at some well-researched averages and best in class conversion rates by downloading our Predictive Marketing Model.

How Do We Start?

How do you start to do this? Well, it isn't easy. You have to first have your data structure in order, starting with consistent internal definitions of lead stages. We recommend that you break your funnel into the following stages:

Visitors – both Anonymous and Personified (Personified visitors have more value by design, but you need a Programmatic  Retargeting solution with 3rd party data in place to do this)

Contacts – visitors who have converted but that you haven’t yet identified their role or interest (in other words, you can’t use the HubSpot Persona tool to segment them)

Leads – contacts in your Marketing Automation solution that can be categorized into a defined Persona (this is an important distinction between AMPED and most other HubSpot Partners – most marketers overstate the value of the funnel because the don’t exclude the ‘noise’ in the lead pool)

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL’s) – leads that marketing believes are ready to have a direct sales conversation based upon an agreed upon score that measures engagement via a DBL assessment algorithm

Sales Qualified Leads (SQL’s) – leads that Sales agrees can be nurtured to be near term opportunities (we often recommend a BANT assessment model, Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline)

Opportunities – Leads that are tied to a real dollar amount, most often via a proposal

Your company should have clear definitions of each stage of the funnel and ideally you have an SLA (service level agreement) in place between marketing and sales that outlines these definitions and has goals and commitments in place for each stage.

When you first engage with an Inbound Marketing partner, an initial step should be to build a revenue model of your entire funnel based upon these stages. Using your existing experience plus the rich data that is available from HubSpot and other knowledgeable sources, your partner should be able to help you to build a Predictive Marketing Model that helps you to connect your business goals back through the funnel all the way up to needed website visitor volumes. This model helps you to solidify your marketing plan to achieve actual business goals.

You’ll know what you need to accomplish, what resources you should invest and most importantly, by keeping tabs of each funnel stage conversion rate, you have a management tool that helps you to troubleshoot your funnel over time to achieve reasonable and ultimately best practices conversion rates. We recommend that your marketing partner review your Predictive Marketing Model with you quarterly so that your internal and extended team can make sure that you are driving toward real business goals.

Interested in having your own Predictive Marketing Model?

Or, want the model but with some preparation? Reach out to and we’re happy to take you through a 12 slide deck (via an online meeting) and set you up with your very own spreadsheet that you can have moving forward. Alternately, if you want this plus the whole shebang, sign up for an Introduction to Inbound Marketing Essentials where you'll get the Predictive Marketing Model Template plus so much more!

You'll be a strategy hero to your boss. We promise. And it has to be more interesting than whatever your boss has you doing next.