How to Close the Messaging App Data Gap in ABM

Account Based Marketing (ABM) programs rely on a foundation of solid data. Shouldn’t it worry marketers that most data cannot be tracked?

Buyers do a lot more than just open emails and visit websites. They scrawl on whiteboards and in desktop notepads. They reveal their unfiltered thoughts in Slack and in offhanded comments to colleagues. They make phone calls, post on social, search their own intranet, add calendar reminders, and simply have thoughts. These data points constitute the hidden 90 percent of the engagement iceberg that your ABM algorithm can’t detect.

But you would access it if you could, right?

Today, there’s one channel that ABM marketers can tap but aren’t: messaging apps. They’re data-rich, used by all demographics, and projected to eclipse email in total users by 2019. Messengers don’t just have a place in B2B – they’re a key data source that can help fortify your ABM data foundation.

Workplace communication is changing, fast

The consumer world is undergoing a communication renaissance, and it’s frothing over into the workplace. Many of the older generations might cringe at applying the term “renaissance” to Snapchat, but that’s exactly what it is – a cultural rebirth. Video, emojis, GIFs, and face filters have unleashed a flood of nonverbal communication into the spartan world of email.

Text alone leaves much to be desired. Every professional knows the pain of rewriting an email to ensure it won’t be misinterpreted. As one pundit joked, “Does anyone remember when LOL meant ‘laughing out loud’ and not ‘this is to indicate that this brief text isn’t hostile’?” People want clarity. They want to express themselves. More and more, they’re doing it at work.

Many of these new workforce tools look like social networking systems.
– Deloitte

“We are about to go through a massive global shift away from email as we know it and toward conversation-based system such as Slack, G Suite, Workplace by Facebook … and many more,” explains a recent Deloitte whitepaper on the workplace of the future. “Many of these new workforce tools look like social networking systems; they let workers post pictures and create groups and alerts, all within mobile-enabled platforms designed to facilitate team-based communication in ways email can’t match.”

If there’s an ABM marketer who doesn’t drool when thinking about tapping into this reservoir of rich data on buying committees, I’d like to meet them. And for some apps, you already can.

Hold on now. It’s a renaissance, not a revolution

Nothing about the rise of chat apps threatens email. Email is still king and it’s where business happens. We’ll never do away with it. This is more of a Cambrian explosion of communication options. Email is an official, company-hosted ledger where people think deeply before pressing send. Messaging apps are for quick, mobile streams of consciousness.

The big four messaging apps – the top two of which are Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp – overtook the big four social media sites in total users back in 2015. They’ll overtake email by 2019. But, they’re all complimentary. People alternate between emailing and chatting on slack. Many post their reactions to emails on WhatsApp in the form of a GIFs or bitmojis. Some would even prefer to interact with businesses on their preferred messaging app.

Open rates on Facebook Messenger are an unheard-of 90 percent.

Messaging apps are a spam-free sanctuary, and people increasingly want to hear from businesses there. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp know this and have released a fleet of business tools so consumers and brands can connect.

Where 65% of all email is spam, messaging apps are actually opt-out by default. That means that if people seek communication from a company, they’re actually engaged and interested. This is part of why open rates on Facebook Messenger are an unheard-of 90 percent and why Twitter DMs have a 10x higher response rate than email.

Marketers who understand the messaging impulse understand that there’s an opportunity to build a B2B audience there. Demand generation teams can push out mobile content to busy commuters. Customer marketers can build advocate groups and ask for references. Content marketers can bypass inboxes and increase response rates. All marketers can reach professionals on the channels they love, and, perhaps more importantly, can track that data for ABM.

Closing the messaging app data gap

With a new audience comes a reservoir of new engagement data. 54% of B2B marketers believe that the top challenge to B2B analytics is a lack of system integration. The more marketers can pipe data from new channels like messaging apps into their CRMs and marketing systems, the more accurate their contact and account profiling becomes.

Consider a marketing team that creates an off-email audience on Facebook Messenger where prospective customers go for daily tips and tricks. Subscribers who shy away from email and feel too rushed at work to visit a website may still inhale content on Messenger. Just like the private thoughts, those prospects reveal in their desktop notepad or slack, these interactions can be highly revealing. They can be enough to move an account from unengaged to engaged.

Image Credit: Engagio. Engagement data is only as good as its sources.

Messengers are also a private, one-to-one channel with each and every prospect. Marketers are freed from the staid formality of email and can afford to show some personality. It’s not for every prospect, but for those who appreciate it and gravitate toward messengers, rich-messaging and videos offer a breath of brand-building fresh air. It’s also richer data. Emails may be able to track opens and responses, but can an email marketing system make sense of a “???” response and score it accordingly?

The era of messaging will force marketers to adapt. But, it’s less of a challenge and more of an immense opportunity for those marketers who solve the riddle. When they realize that they can fortify their ABM by piping rich messaging data into their CRM and marketing systems, it isn’t a question of whether to track it. It’s one of how to track it.



Scott Edmonds

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