Technographics: A Guide to What, Why and How

Have you heard of technographics?

Is it simply a new B2B buzzword?

The answer’s no—you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with technographics if your customers’ tech stack is important to you.

Look no further if you want to know what technographics means, and how to use it. We’ve got everything you need to know right here.

These days you can’t just subsist on demographic and firmographic information anymore. What you need is a thorough understanding of a client’s technology stack. Technographic data can fill that void.

What’s Technographic Data?

Technographics is all about better understanding a customer through analysis of their technology stack. The definition is easiest to understand if you think of technographic data along the same lines of demographics and firmographics. “Demographics” are defined as “the statistical characteristics of human populations (such as age or income) used especially to identify markets.” Your business probably uses demographic data to understand what types of customers or clients it’s trying to reach.

What social demographics are to human populations, firmographics are to businesses. B2B marketers, especially, use firmographic data to segment organizations into categories. Industry, target market, location, company size, and revenue figures are all characteristics that define a company’s firmographic positioning.

Traditionally, B2C marketers have relied on demographic data, and B2B marketers have bet on firmographics. With the growing importance of technographic targeting, the norms are starting to change. What hardware or software is a company using? Do they have tools in place for marketing automation? How about CRM (customer relationship management)? These are just a few of the questions that technographic profiles can help answer for your B2B marketing team.

Why Does Technographic Data Matter?

To understand the importance of technographic segmentation in marketing fully, we should take a quick look at the history of the concept.

While “technographics” might seem like a buzzword of the marketing industry, circa 2017, it has been around for the better part of three decades. The seeds for technographic targeting were sown back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. With the arrival and growth of personal computers, the internet, home video, video games, and other devices, technology became a crucial part of day-to-day life. Companies quickly realized they could extrapolate assumptions about customer demographics (wealth, brand preferences, likelihood to buy specific products) based on their technology use. Thus, technographic targeting was born in the consumer marketing realm.

The evolution was simple. Businesses saw the lives of consumers revolving more around technology, and marketing efforts followed. The same thing happened in B2B marketing. To this day, technographic targeting is not universal in B2B, but it is growing in popularity.

Applying Technographics to B2B Marketing

Technographic segmentation can provide significant benefits to B2B marketers. For creating firmographic profiles, understanding client pain points, and personalizing targeted marketing strategies, technographic B2B data will do you a lot of favors. So many organizations today rely on their technology stack to drive growth, productivity, customer relationships, and more—regardless of industry.

If you are in B2B marketing, it pays to understand how technology fits into an organization.

Technographic Segmentation Examples

For instance, your business might find that your biggest clients are using marketing automation software like Marketo or Eloqua. These pieces of software indicate more than just the fact that a company is using marketing automation. The enterprises that use Marketo and Eloqua are usually large, with tens or hundreds of thousands of contacts, plentiful resources, and lots of technical know-how. If those descriptors apply to the clients you are trying to reach, you might use technographic data to identify companies in your market that have Marketo or Eloqua installed.

Identify High-Potential Clients

Maybe you are selling a product that integrates with marketing automation software—such as a predictive analytics program. You want to identify high-potential clients, which means finding the companies that are already investing big money in marketing automation. Alternatively, your product or service might have little to do with marketing automation itself. Perhaps you just want to find businesses in your niche that have shown a willingness to embrace expensive, feature-rich software. Either way, you can assume things about client priorities, wants, and needs just by looking at their technology stacks.

Another thing to consider is whether a client is using on-prem or cloud servers. A company that has jumped to the cloud might be devoted to staying on the cutting edge of technology. Alternatively, that business might have a large remote workforce, making the cloud and its accessibility properties hugely beneficial. The company that sticks with an on-prem installation, meanwhile, might also do so for several reasons. Maybe the business is small and only has one location, eliminating much need for remote access. Or perhaps the company is dedicated to data security—something that is easier to control with an on-prem installation than a cloud-based server.

These are just a few examples of how you can derive meaning from technographic profiles. Do note that there is often some guesswork here. Data about a company’s technology stack is concrete. The assumptions you make based on a company’s technology stack are not.

From time to time, you will probably misread the data. That’s okay. The same kind of guesswork has always been used to segment demographics and firmographics into target markets. In all situations, some people or organizations break the mold or diverge from the path. The goal of technographic data is to make educated guesses. Even if these theories aren’t 100% correct, 100% of the time, they can still help with formulating pitches, establishing strong client relationships, and winning accounts.

The Role of Technographics in Account-Based Marketing

Regarding your client relationships, technographics can be extremely valuable for effective account-based marketing. ABM has always been crucial for B2B marketers. On the client acquisition side of things, ABM is all about showing your prospective clients that you know something about them and understand their needs. On the client retention side, ABM is about anticipating client needs, assutring the client that you have their best interests at heart, and presenting your business as a key partner to the client’s long-term success. Both sides of the coin are essential for thriving client relationships, and technographics can help with both.

Here are a few areas where technographic data can inject new life into your company’s ABM strategy:

1. Efficient Use of Marketing Dollars

Perhaps the best thing about ABM is that you aren’t wasting money on generic campaigns that are almost built to fail. Mass marketing rarely works these days, especially in the B2B realm. Clients (current or prospective) don’t want to feel like they are one of 1,000 companies that you are trying to speak to at once. Instead, they prefer feeling like the only client you care about. By telling you more about clients—both how they are working now and what they need for the future—business technographics can help you focus on this “audience of one” marketing style.

2. Personalized Relationships

Personalizing the communications you have with a client doesn’t just catch their eye. It also helps foster deeper, friendlier, and more collaborative relationships between your marketers and the client’s decision makers. Understanding a client’s technology stack makes it easier to cut through the dull formalities of the first contact. Instead, it enables meaningful conversations immediately. You know more about the client when you send that first email, which makes it easier to establish a personal, mutually beneficial relationship.

3. Easier Tracking of ROI

Tracking ROI for mass marketing efforts is difficult. How can you know which strategy won a client or customer to your cause? And by extension, how can you see how much money you spent to close that account? With ABM, it’s easier to track how much you spend marketing to each account. Ditto for tracking campaign ROI. With technographic data, it’s possible to hone your marketing strategy even further, for sharper targeting and more exact selling. Since there are fewer variables beyond your control, it’s also easier to track the success and ROI of your campaigns.

4. Better Alignment of Marketing and Sales Teams

For so many companies, “siloing” is a significant problem. This point is especially true about the relationship between sales and marketing. Account-based marketing is both sales and marketing, combined into one potent system. Market research, client needs, sales pitches, and customer relationships all blend, forcing your marketing and sales teams to work together. Shattering those silos can have positive effects reaching far into the future of your organization. When your marketing and sales departments have more data to work with, it’s easier for them to find common ground and build robust, collaborative campaigns.

All these benefits can exist without technographics. Other types of data can form the foundation of an ABM strategy. Firmographic and demographic data are the ideal place to start, but they aren’t enough anymore. Currently, where technology is everything, it is essential to add technographics into the mix. Doing so can underline and amplify every benefit your organization is already getting from ABM.

Collecting Technographic Data

So, you’re ready to start using business technographics to drive your company’s B2B marketing efforts. Your next big question is how to begin collecting technographic data. After all, there isn’t some public record database to find out how your biggest prospect’s technology stack looks.

As with any data, there are a few ways that you can go about curating a technographic database for your team. These methods include:

1. Phone or Email Surveys

Cold call surveying is the oldest trick in the data collection book. Unfortunately, it’s not very scalable, and there’s no telling what information prospective clients will be willing to share. In some cases, trying to get information this way could turn potential clients against your brand before you even pitch them. In other cases, your phone calls or emails might just go unanswered. Neither outcome is ideal.

2. Digital Scraping

In some situations, it’s possible to “scrape” code from a website to determine what types of technology a company is using. If a prospective client is using Google Analytics or some marketing automation software, there is probably evidence of it in the source code of the website. Similarly, if the site is based on a WordPress platform, you can usually tell by looking at the code. Digital scrapping is only so useful, though, because only certain types of software (and almost no hardware) leave an apparent trace. Sometimes, code can also remain on a website for technologies that a company is no longer using. Ultimately, digital scraping is an inventive but unreliable way of learning about a firm’s technology stack.

3. Buying Lists From Third-Party Providers

In most cases, your best bet for collecting technographic data is to buy an existing database from a technographics company. Some companies are hesitant to buy data from third parties. However, by purchasing a list, you ensure that someone else does the legwork for you, freeing your team up to implement technographic targeting right away.

If you do decide to buy business technographics from a third party, make sure to find a reputable vendor.

DemandScience’s Technographic Targeting

At DemandScience, we offer a potent source of technographic data for B2B marketers. We offer several types of business database lists, including detailed lists of firmographic data. With our Technology Install Base, we also have the largest database of technology installations in the world. Our list covers 6,500 products and the companies that use them, from security software to marketing automation tools. If you are looking for detailed technographic profiles of your prospective clients, DemandScience’s Technology Install Base is the answer.

Countless B2B marketers just like you have used our data to drive powerful campaigns. Knowing which tech products your clients are using creates plentiful opportunities for buyer persona development and improved individual messaging across the board. Use it to derive assumptions about firmographics, or to generate perfectly-timed offers for upselling, cross-selling, or technology displacement.

From startups to growing SMBs and Fortune 500 corporations, clients around the world have relied on DemandScience to help them embrace technographic marketing. If you are ready to implement technographic segmentation in your company and need a little help getting started, DemandScience’s Technology Install Base might be the perfect launching point.

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