Most of us use the industry data field in our CRM and marketing automation. It’s an important piece of information. We often create segments and lists by using that industry information as one of our search and B2B segmentation criteria. But how often you end up with endless target lists that include companies that have nothing in common?
This post will cover how to use custom industry categories to create hyper targeted B2B segments. In other words, you’ll learn how to sell more by selling to fewer.
Let’s get to it.
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) was released in 1997, and it’s only updated once every five years. The current version of its European equivalent—NACE— was established in 2006. And, SIC codes, still widely used worldwide, are nearly a century old. Unfortunately, none of these standard industry classifications suits the rapidly changing B2B sales environment. Relying on those classifications for B2B segmentation doesn’t do the trick. It's broken.
But why? Why isn’t such a widely accepted taxonomy good enough for B2B sales and marketing? The answer is easy: the data is not accurate enough. It’s too generic. No one wants to sell and advertise to "All Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing (339999)" or "Software Publishers, Packaged (511210) or “Offices of Other Holding Companies (551112)”. Chances are, these broad and global categories don’t match your real target segments.
Take a look at these examples:
What does a company like Basware do? Looking at the standard industry codes, we know the company does computer programming activities. Same as Bankify. But in reality, we know those two companies operate in very different sectors. It only takes a look at their website to understand these belong to different industry categories. Today, the buyer expects a high degree of personalization, but how can you address these two very different companies' specific needs and pain points when you’re led to believe they belong to the same industry? That’s why B2B segmentation is broken.
Sales intelligence to fix B2B segmentation
Some CRM systems and marketing automation platforms provide their own industry classification. For example, when creating a new company in HubSpot, the system automatically fills in industry information by fetching data from their own insights pool. It helps a bit with B2B segmentation but still leaves too many question marks. Many of us require more detailed information than "computer software", "marketing & advertising" or "manufacturing".
Sales activities like prospecting and marketing tactics like website personalization require a more accurate B2B segmentation. Next, let’s see how salespeople and marketers can create concrete B2B segments without spending hours and hours researching their list of prospects.
Vainu Custom Industry categories
Earlier, we mentioned that just looking at a company website, one can easily guess its industry. The information is right there in the copy. Bankify writes the following on its home page:
Smart and human-friendly services to unlock the value of financial mobile applications.
“Financial mobile applications”. Those are some revealing keywords.
No person has the time to visit every single website and update the industry category of their target lists. That’s why at Vainu, we’ve built our own proprietary AI model that uses the real website content and extensive training data sets to predict custom industry values for each company. This way, you can update your target lists without lifting a finger, opening up a new world of B2B segmentation possibilities. Like this:
As you can see, there’s much more information than just computer programming activities. For Basware, Vainu Custom Industry creates meaningful categories such as “SaaS”, “Payments”, or “FinTech”. And, Bankify’s industry is “Mobile Payments, “Banking”, and “FinTech”.
Now, instead of targeting all software companies, we can create B2B segments based on categories such as SaaS, 3D Technology, FinTech, or Artificial Intelligence. Most companies have several Custom Industry labels, so we can also build powerful combinations. We can target only companies that are “SaaS providers building video streaming software” or “medical device manufactures that develop machine learning applications”.
With detailed industry categories, not only salespeople will find it easy to tailor their outreach according to this approach, it’s also simpler to discard companies that don’t match your ideal customer profile. Are you targeting SaaS companies but aren’t interested in those in the e-commerce space? If you have the data, you can easily exclude those companies—you can’t do that if you target the standard computer programming activities.
👉 To see the complete list of Vainu custom industry categories, click here.
Personalization at scale
That's the first step: fix the basics. Once your B2B segmentation is in order, you can design complex customer segmentation methods that yield better results. You can start digging into other methods such as segmentation based on customer needs, customer sophistication, and behavior.
Besides better resource allocation, advanced industry category data give the context you need to develop complex strategies, such as account-based marketing, designed for one-to-one or one-to-few approach—again, sell more by selling to fewer. If you still don’t know how to get started with ABM, we recommend you to read our Beginner’s Handbook to Account-Based Marketing.
Want to see how Vainu Custom Industry will fix B2B segmentation for you? Or do you want to know how the data can help you with account-based marketing? Request a demo at any time.