4 Reasons Why SaaS Companies Need Technographics

July 18, 2016 Sam Laber

"Technographics" is a fairly new term, but it is beginning to reshape the way we sell and market. Put simply, technographics is information related to any business's current technology environment. It includes data on both software and hardware technology stacks, and perhaps more importantly, provides insights on when changes may occur.

Technographic data is primarily collected by finding and organizing "technology signatures" as they occur across the Internet. For web and mobile software, these signatures are typically snippets of code that can be found upon lifting the veil on any website or app. Here are a few common signatures related to popular software products:

Once collected, businesses can start applying technographic data to various sales and marketing functions. No application is precisely alike, but here's why SaaS companies are raving about the potential of this data set.
 

1. Plugging data holes on private companies

Let's face it -- accurate data on private companies is extremely hard to come by. And unless your company is 100% focused on the enterprise, you're going to have to invest time and effort into researching private businesses that prefer not to reveal their current state of affairs.

In these cases, we mostly rely on our prospects to paint the picture for us, either through social media or via news clippings and press releases. Most of this data is imprecise and only somewhat reflective of our prospects' technology needs.

Let's take the private company, Patagonia, as an example. After 10 minutes of Google searches and social media checks, here's what data we were able to gather.

  1. Patagonia is a retailer, employing between 1000 to 5000 people. They are headquartered in Ventura, California.
  2. According to Wikipedia, the company made $600M revenue in 2013 through online, mobile, direct and channel sales.
  3. As of July 2016, the company is running a Periscope campaign on Twitter focused on #ProtectBearsEars, while simultaneously investing in research on the pollution caused by fleece jackets. 

All in all, not very helpful for someone trying to sell Patagonia software. I'm sure we could dig a bit deeper, but this is what we were able to glean. Now let's take a look at Patagonia through a technographic lens.

Technographic data pulled from our free Chrome Extension, Datanyze Insider

Here's 5 things we learned about Patagonia in less than 30 seconds.

  1. Patagonia cares about site speed and performance. They use Akamai, a top-of-the-line CDN, to delivery site content quickly and across international audiences.
  2. Patagonia is advertising on search (both Google and Bing), and retargeting visitors on Facebook. They are also running UGC campaigns through Instagram (using Olapic) and collecting reviews on their website (via BazaarVoice).
  3. Patagonia is HUGE on user experience. They use 4 different analytics tools to track behavior (Google, Hotjar, CrazyEgg and AvantMetrics), and use RichRelevance to deliver personalized shopping experiences.
  4. Email marketing is a big channel for Patagonia. They use Salesforce ExactTarget, an enterprise email solution, to nurture their audience.
  5. Patagonia is custom built on WordPress.org's open source library. This typically means they have a capable web team and developer resources to build customized pages.

See the difference? Technographic data helps SaaS companies think like their prospects and truly assess the sales opportunity at hand. Speaking your prospects' language and knowing their tools makes all the difference. 
 

2. Redefining total addressable market

One of the first questions companies ask after releasing a new product is "Who would want to buy this?". Most of the time, the answer is somewhere along the lines of: "tech-savvy enterprises" or "e-commerce companies with lots of traffic". But how do we find these companies, and what data points should serve as indicators for whether or not an account is qualified?

Let's take the second hypothetical -- "e-commerce companies with lots of traffic". Using a traditional approach, we might buy lists like the Internet Retailer 500 or use Alexa's Category filter to find the highest-trafficked shopping sites. This gets us started, but I'll bet there are more than 500 companies that fit the bill...

Now let's use technographics to determine our target market. We'll start off with the assumption that all e-commerce sites are using an e-commerce platform. If we look for every website with an e-commerce platform, we get 1.8 million results. This is way too broad, so let's narrow it.

If we sell to e-commerce, we know which products are built specifically for high volume shops. This includes platforms like IBM WebSphere, Oracle ATG Commerce, Demandware and SAP Hybris. Let's also narrow things by Alexa Rank to look across only the 100,000 top websites in the world.

Now the list looks a bit different. 921 e-commerce companies with budget and traffic.

Using technographic data gives us the ability to properly assess (and in some cases reassess) our target markets, ensuring that each account is qualified from a technology buying perspective. When we layer technographic and firmographic data together, we can be even more precise with whom we target and how.
 

3. Providing unrivaled competitive intelligence

SaaS is competitive. There are 3,874 software products for marketers alone, so how can you keep tabs on your specific competitive ecosystem? Traditionally, salespeople don't know what they're up against until they get to the meat and potatoes of a deal. The last thing you want is to have another provider driving the requirements in a competitive situation. You have to be aware of an evaluation as soon at it starts.

Using technographics, we are able to glean two valuable data points -- the date on which a piece of software was added to a website and the date on which it was dropped. Let's use Patagonia again as an example. Here's a look at Patagonia's technology changes in the past month.

On July 12th, Patagonia dropped Zendesk from their website. This could mean that they've either ended a trial with this particular vendor or stopped using the software all together. Regardless, they could be in the market for a new support platform.

On July 11th, Patagonia added Disqus to their website for comments. This might mean that they are putting more focus on content and, in particular, user engagement with this content. This could potentially be an in for content marketing software providers looking for that next big logo.
 

Renewal Tracking

SaaS companies in industries with annual contracts can also use this data to know when certain prospects are coming up for renewal with their current provider. For example, knowing that Patagonia started using Akamai as their CDN in January means that they could be up for renewal come that time next year. Wouldn't be a bad time to touch base if you work for another web infrastructure provider.


4. Optimizing inbound like HubSpot and New Relic

What happens when you add technographic data into a marketing automation platform? Think of all the ways in which marketers use traditional business data points (company size, revenue, industry, location) to segment, score and route new leads through the funnel. Now, think about a routing process driven by an understanding of every lead's firmographics AND technographics. This is how companies like HubSpot manage their massive inbound funnel.
 

Step 1: Lead enrichment and scoring

When a visitor converts to a lead, it kicks off a few processes underneath the hood. Most marketing organizations will use a lead enrichment tool to collect various firmographic data points. These data points then contribute to a "fit score" -- typically a numerical value that estimates how qualified the lead is to make a purchase.

As we mentioned before, firmographic data is not always helpful in determining fit, especially for private companies. Enriching leads with technographic data helps us paint a more complete picture upon conversion and possibly identify a competitive situation before it arises.
 

Step 2: Segmentation and routing

Once a lead is enriched and scored, you'll want to make sure it gets the right treatment. If you sell to large e-commerce companies and your lead's website isn't using an e-commerce platform, you might want to move it to the unqualified pile. If a lead has recently added an expensive e-commerce platform, then maybe you pass it directly to sales for faster follow up.

When HubSpot sees that a lead has added a particular technology provider, they instantly send an alert to the sales rep responsible for the account. According to HubSpot, these leads are 3X more likely to become sales opportunities.
 

Step 3: Personalized nurture paths

If you're not providing value, you're just noise. Marketers are perhaps the first to blame for cluttered inboxes, because most of the stuff they send is not tailored to their prospects' needs. New Relic's Director of Marketing Operations, Isaac Wyatt, understands the issues associated with blanket messaging, and uses firmographics and technographics to create personalized nurture tracks. According to Isaac:

"...understanding the technology environment of our customers helps us create a highly informed, more personalized, and value-driven experience for them at every point of engagement."

-Isaac Wyatt, Director of MarOps, New Relic

Peter Mollins

Let's say you sell e-commerce software, and you want to create more personalized nurture tracks for every new lead. In this case, you may want to consider 3 separate tracks:
 

A competitive track

This track would be reserved for leads that use a competitive technology provider. It would highlight the benefits of your solution over the rest and supply leads with third-party validation from industry reports, customer reviews and case studies. It would also focus on shaping the buying process around the specific requirements your product fulfills.
 

A complementary track

This is a great track for companies whose solutions roll up to a commonly used platform (think Salesforce, Marketo, WordPress or Magento). Think of BlueHost, a company that defines itself as a "hosting platform for WordPress sites"; or Full Circle Insights, a multi-touch attribution platform for Salesforce. This track would explain how easy it is to integrate your product with the well-known platform.
 

An educational track

Leads that aren't currently using a technology provider in your space may be a good candidate for an educational track. This would provide top-of-the-funnel content for leads that might not be ready to begin an evaluation process. That way when they do decide to look for solutions, your name will be atop the list.
 

Conclusion

For SaaS companies, technographics is quickly becoming the new firmographics. As buyers continue to raise their expectations on sellers, the need to understand every prospects' current toolset is crucial to sales and marketing success.

About the Author

Sam Laber

Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.

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