March 24, 2021 | Data Heroes
Jessica Kao, Senior Director of Demand Operations at F5
Intent is like a New Toy
"Intent is like a new toy" is Jessica’s analogy for this trending market strategy. In this episode of The Data Heroes Podcast, Jessica Kao, Senior Director of Demand Operations at F5, talks all things intent, scoring systems and ICPs. Jessica is a data hero at analyzing and understanding trends in the data, and looking for signatures of pattern behavior to uncover customer intent.
"Every situation is going to be different" explains Jessica - companies should be equipped with flexible frameworks, strategies, and thought processes for managing intent data for different customers. She suggests businesses should be prepared to apply maturity scales and additional point scoring systems, such as keyword scoring to reach MQLs.
Outside the corporate landscape, Jessica has even implemented her data analysis skills in the world of science. At Stanford University she completed her PhD in cancer biology, breaking down the data to understand the signals of breast cancer in women.
The Data Heroes Podcast Ep 01: Jessica Kao, Senior Director of Demand Operations at F5
Why does Jessica like Marketo so much?
"Marketo is accessible to the majority of marketers. Because marketers think a certain way. And there are those marketers who are very tech savvy, but they're also those marketers that aren’t. So you're able to appeal to a large variety of audiences without sacrificing the power.
Low barrier to entry,marketing first features, then scalability, and finally you can tinker with Marketo. Because a lot of times if it's very simple, you kind of lose the power behind it. But I mean, I'm coming up with new ways to do things in Marketo every week and pushing the envelope. It's a blank slate."
Assess The Data
"Take one step at a time, run the data and see where you're missing. Experiment, run the data and you try it. Am I getting better? Are the conversion rates that my sales team is having better? Maybe you refine more, right? There's a kind of a path of maturity to how you would use intent data. And I think people just come in and they're like, ‘Oh, I have intent data. Let me just plug it into my whole system. Let me shove it over to the sales team. Let me give it to marketing.’ But we haven't taken a step back and understood how to use that data. And on top of that, if you buy a bunch of tools, you're getting intent data from multiple sources, or you're getting demographic data from multiple sources.
And what I see a lot of is we're just ingesting all of the data and we're not strategically thinking. Data is not a hundred percent, no vendor is going to be a hundred percent. You just have to assess it for your situation."
What Is Intent Data?
"We're dealing with lots of data and analysis that we use in marketing operations as a marketer each day and every day, because we're looking for data signals and data points to understand and identify and predict who is most likely going to be a customer, right? We want to do more of those things, and who isn't going and is going to be really hard to convert."
Marketing Operations Evolution
"I'm seeing a lot of growing companies having a B.I. team, a data engineering team, a data set team and a separate data Lake or data warehouse where all of these things need to feed into. And I think as a marketing operations professional we're getting pushed, we need to also start getting out of Marketo admin and knowing a little bit of Salesforce. We need to be expanding into the B.I. realm and have familiarity with how to work with analytics folks and data scientists and data engineers. So we can have a seat at the table from a business perspective to drive some of these strategic conversations around how we are going to aggregate the data. Like an engagement score and a technographic score from all these different signals and bringing them together."
"Understanding who your ICP is? I think it's actually cyclical. Because we're not doing this stuff in a vacuum, right? Usually it starts with ‘who are my customers today?’ And that also helps drive the definition of the ICP. And then you kind of decide from there, well, you don't want to be all things to everyone. From a business perspective you want to make very strategic decisions about who you're going to go after and who you're not going to go after. Versus more opportunistic endeavors, but then it always comes back to the data. It drives your ICP. You make a strategic decision and then you go after more of those people and then there's a data strategy that needs to happen after that to go after more of your ICP."
Jessica’s Data and Science
"(Looking for data clusters) is a process of iteration and is what I did for my PhD. I talk about those data signals about aggressive breast cancer and non-aggressive. We look at clusters of data and it's displayed in color. So we're literally seeing red clusters. And then we go look at the data points, which are genes and proteins, and we're trying to see, are they part of the same family? Do they interact? Can I tell a story around them? And then we build the story that way. So it's very much the same thing. And that's exactly the same kind of analysis that I do when someone asks here's my digital marketing."
- Data Hygiene. For Jessica, being a data hero is all about understanding the data. She advocates that data hygiene is paramount to being able to market effectively and efficiently. In Jessica’s line of work, duplicates have stood out as one of the single greatest issues she’s encountered, and every company needs an effective strategy for managing them. Unchecked data decay can affect attribution and revenue loss. "Our databases are living, breathing machines and we need to respect them, right? It's not going to keep itself clean, you’ve got to have a house cleaner come in on a regular basis. You’ve got to tune up your car on a regular basis. There's no difference to keeping your database clean."
- Your Ideal Customer Profile. "ICP discovery is cyclical", Jessica explains, who says businesses should understand who their customers truly are to drive the ICP definition. She details how once the ICP is defined, businesses should narrow their focus, and then allow the data to refine - make a strategic decision once your ICP is refined then target more people within those brackets in a continuous cycle to net more customers. "Make very strategic decisions about who you're going to go after and who you're not going to go after, versus more opportunistic endeavors. But then it always comes back to the data, it drives your ICP, you make a strategic decision and then you go after more of those people."
- Intent is a really hot topic. Jessica details how companies applying this new strategy are prone to make mistakes. Indicators given by one customer may equal intent, but those same signs for a customer in a different company might sit them somewhere else on the funnel. Jessica stands out in the industry as someone with a lot of intent experience, and emphasises that companies shouldn’t focus on applying the same strategies for every customer. "Every company is going to be different. The people, the personalities and skill sets, the politics, everything is going to be different. So...what works at one company is not going to work at another company."
- Needle in a haystack. "Instead of searching blindly through a haystack to uncover intent, can we avoid bias by looking at where the data is clustering?" asks Jessica. When it comes to understanding intent, Jessica understands that it’s a process of iteration. Through years of experience, Jessica knows to look for patterns and where the data is clustering, digs deeper to build a story from the individual data pieces. "So if you see the cluster of someone who really converts well, when within three days they downloaded an ebook, they sign up for a webinar. But they didn't attend...and did something else. But I'm not coming out with the hypothesis first. I'm actually looking at the cluster of data and seeing if I can tell a story amongst these 10 things, maybe I can link four or five of them together into a story."