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DealSignal CEO Shares Analysis Of B2B Marketing Audience, New Definition Of “TAM”

Rob Weedn DealSignalLike most B2B organizations, we are constantly analyzing our audience for our Demand Gen Report publication, as well as our B2B Marketing Exchange event. Given our unique focus on B2B and performance marketing, we have the ability to be fairly targeted in our outreach.

However, we recently had the opportunity to work with DealSignal on a deeper analysis around what the company describes as total audience metrics (TAM). While some of the findings from the bottoms-up analysis DealSignal conducted were fairly intuitive, it also provided a number of aha moments that have made us rethink who we are targeting for subscribers and potential attendees at our events.

For example, DealSignal’s analysis uncovered 3,200 people with specific demand gen titles in North America, but revealed more than 90,000 other contacts that had skills such as field marketing, lead gen or marketing automation as keywords in their profiles.

In an interview with Demand Gen Report, DealSignal Founder and CEO Rob Weedn discussed the company’s definition of TAM — total audience metrics — and how it can provide clearer insight into the personas that are in market. Weedn also shared how looking at TAM from this perspective positions B2B companies to gain a deeper understanding of their target audience and helps sales and marketing teams fuel revenue growth.

Demand Gen Report: Our coverage of TAM refers to it as the total addressable market, but you talk about TAM as total audience metrics. Can you explain why you view it that way and elaborate on the differentiation?

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Rob Weedn: We look at everything by persona. If you look at the classic, top-down TAM, the total addressable market is something that companies look at in their strategy process; they look at their board and use TAM to project growth and raise funding. Executives typically source that information from IDC, Gartner or another company who studies the market and comes up with some extrapolated market size. How many billions of dollars in revenue is a market presumably worth? Well, that’s an interesting strategy notion. It doesn’t help when you’re actually trying to run sales and marketing and identify specific target accounts and target contacts that meet specific personas. Classic TAM or top-down TAM at that point is a generalization.

We look at total audience metrics as something that helps marketing teams and sales teams specifically identify the accounts and contacts that meet their criteria with the best and most relevant fit. Then, we aggregate from a bottoms up count to get the total audience metrics. You can then look top down and bottoms up at an executable set of accounts and contacts that you can sell and market to. At the end of the day, people buy from people and you need to know how many buyers are in your market and how many companies they represent.

DGR: We’ve discussed how DealSignal can help go beyond specific title/role criteria to look at the skill sets of other prospects that have related titles. What value does this bring to businesses looking to better understand their TAM?

Weedn: Given our experience with several hundred companies we’ve talked to... 2% or 3% of those actually have a sense of their total audience metrics, and none have had the complete and accurate counts. Most have a set of target accounts they’ve identified from some existing data source. They have a database of existing contacts in their CRM or marketing automation system. When we work with them, we typically find a gap somewhere between 80% and 95%. Meaning, for contacts, specifically, they are unaware or do not have the data on 80% to 95% of the contacts in their market. Their market is actually much larger than they currently address with their CRM, marketing automation and sales teams. They don’t have the metrics on these and they don’t have those contacts in their CRM systems. It’s a surprising and yet massive blind spot.

What we do is say, “Hey, you may have 50,000 to 500,000 contacts in your CRM or marketing automation system. But if we look at contacts with appropriate titles for your target persona and we look at the contacts with the appropriate profile keywords for demand generation, the market is actually much, much larger than that. We can give you the contacts that meet those specific title and profile criteria.” That is actionable and executable. It’s also an aggregate metric to understand how well you’re addressing the entire audience.

DGR: Can you talk about total audience metrics, how the process works and how it relates to the end result of driving contact-focused campaigns?

Weedn: The world is shifting quickly to dynamic services like Uber and DoorDash, and we believe the only way to properly address contact and account data for marketing and sales professionals is to have a dynamic process that services that data on demand. This means that the user or customer makes a request and says, “Hey, I would like to know for this account list or account criteria, how many contacts exist and how many of my existing contacts are still accurate? How many still meet the firmographic criteria or how many contacts exist that meet the title and profile keywords and title exclusion criteria?” Then, as part of our process, we multisource data from multiple proprietary databases that contain more than one billion contacts. We source those via API, but we consider that seed data. It is an initial start to how many contacts may exist.

We then use the public data published by individual business professionals on the web to both verify and complete the data set by using robots and researchers to go out and identify the full audience for those accounts and contacts found via the proprietary sources. Then the third layer of that process is to have algorithms, and where necessary, researchers, verify that the data is accurate within the last two weeks. You’re getting a final data set that is complete, accurate and near perfectly verified. It’s every individual that exists in a large, public data web. We believe that’s 100% of the total market of business professionals and we verify it’s 99.9% accurate.

DGR: What are some of the drivers that you’re seeing in conversations about understanding your total audience metrics?

Weedn: I’d say the number one driver is — literally — growth. I hate to use such a broad term, but when we see companies scaling sales teams from let’s say, five or 10 sales reps to 50 or 100, or from 100 reps to 300 or 400, those companies must set expectations with the board and start to say, “Hey, we’re going to go to a certain rate. They have to fulfill the top-of-funnel requirements for lead and demand generation to fill the funnel and get a high conversion rate with the most relevant accounts and contacts.”

DGR: Intent is a hot topic and predictive has become a big game changer. Can you talk about this, what your team is delivering/fixing and what works with those technologies and practices?

Weedn: The number one thing that demand generation and marketing professionals need to do is demand planning. Marketers can plan their budget and programs based on our market size, but more specifically the audience size that they hope to reach and determine which channels they’re going to use to reach them. 

For Marketers who have a consistent data set with repeatable patterns, we can use a set of current accounts and buyers to build a set of lookalikes using predictive algorithms. For Marketers who have a clear handle on their intent indicators, they can layer in intent data as a signal to prioritize a set of their target accounts when those buyers are in-market. In that first phase of demand planning, the most important component is understanding the TAM, the total audience metrics and analysis, based on a comprehensive view of the market with data refreshed in the past several weeks, and then using the most appropriate filters, such as firmographics, technographics, lookalikes or intent, to prioritize the marketing cadence over time. 

For our target market at DealSignal, we had to look at what’s the total audience of demand generation titles. We found that it was about 3,200 titles in the United States. But then we asked, “Is that really everybody that’s doing demand generation in the U.S.? It can’t be true.” So, we started doing a little more research and we found that other titles — including terms such as lead generation, marketing campaign, email marketing, marketing automation and marketing operations — were also titles that fit our ideal buyer persona. The larger total audience aggregates to about 100,000 contacts in the United States. 3,200 demand generation titles work on demand gen full-time, and 30 times that number of people work on demand gen as part of their broader responsibilities. 

This TAM is just for the marketing function. We’re not even talking about our second target audience, sales professionals…more on the TAM for Sales, Sales Leadership, and Sales Operations…next month.