TechTarget Prospect-Level Intent (Part II)

Continuing my coverage on TechTarget’s Prospect-Level Intent from yesterday

Prospects are scored and ranked within accounts and across all accounts based on “their recent research activity across the TechTarget network as well as their direct engagement with the customer’s content, website, and advertising.”

To assist with account planning and messaging, Priority Engine added Entry Points, a set of user-defined talking points based upon “a prospect’s recent technology and vendor interests mapped to the particular company’s strengths.”  Entry Points are also delivered at the account-level. They are defined by client teams to call out the topics most salient to company positioning and capabilities.  Client-defined Entry Points are visible within Priority Engine, Salesforce, and export files and are reflected in both the account and prospect rankings.

Prospect-Level Intent is also available within Priority Engine’s Connected App for Salesforce.  Sales reps can quickly fill sales cadences and call lists with high-priority prospects and focused prescriptive insights.  With a single click, Sales reps can add new prospect names to Salesforce, providing a direct path from buyer intent to active leads and contacts.  Prospect and account-level insights, including Entry Points and behavioral intelligence, are displayed within Salesforce Account, Contact, and Lead records.

When uploading Accounts, domains are used for account matching and duplicate prevention.  If a Prospect cannot be associated with an account record, it is uploaded as a Lead.

Account-level fields include account rank, domain, employees, industry, revenue, account address, and up to ten account entry points.  Other account insights include five account signals (e.g. Widespread, Sustained, Late Stage, Stakeholder, Cross-Vendor), an account active this week flag, and behavioral flags for marketing (e.g. visited website, engaged with content, clicked banner), ICP match flag, and their Account Star Ranking.

Contact-level fields include name, title, email, content downloaded, a prospect active this week flag, up to ten Prospect Entry Points, contact address, contact phone, LinkedIn URL, and Priority Engine Contact URL.

Ongoing Salesforce enrichment is not yet available but is on the Priority Engine roadmap.

Priority Engine also supports Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, and HubSpot out-of-the-box, with custom support for other platforms.

Prospect-Level Intent is available in both Priority Engine and the SMB Priority Engine Express subscriptions.  The Salesforce connector is included as part of a standard Priority Engine license.

TechTarget Prospect-Level Intent

TechTarget announced Prospect-Level Intent within its Priority Engine technology sales and marketing intelligence platform.  Prospect-Level Intent builds on the inherent strength of its second-party intent dataset.  The intent data is collected from over 140 enterprise technology media sites owned by TechTarget.  Because its readers have opted into the platform, intent data is associated with buyers and influencers at target accounts and derived from content carefully tagged by topic, buying stage, competitors, etc.

Unlike third-party intent, which is both anonymous and limited to account-level buying patterns, second-party intent identifies account-level activity and surfaces active members of buying teams, including technology decision-makers, economic decision-makers, administrators, or influencers.  Selected via TechTarget algorithms, Priority Engine prospects – individuals intensely engaged in specific research – are likely members of an active purchase decision.

TechTarget’s Prospect-Level Intent informs sales and marketing professionals when prospects are active in their market category or have downloaded content related to the company or its competitors, regardless of whether they are current or net-new contacts.

“Account-level surges do tell you what’s popular with a set of personas right now, but tell you relatively little about who might actually be making a purchase,” blogged Rebecca Kitchens, SVP of Market Development.  “News-based surges tell us something about the mood of the market, but explain very little about impending purchases except in the macro sense.  They may give you something to talk about with accounts, but they don’t tell you enough about actual buying motions to warrant aggressive prioritization.”

Kitchens warned against weak intent signals.  “Most content is designed to be broadly appealing to maximize eyeballs but provides only weak purchase intent at best.   Real-purchase intent is generated by high-quality content that applies to the research task at hand.”

Adds Andy Briney, TechTarget SVP of Products, “Many in the intent market have been wrongly focused only on accounts, when it is the people and teams at those accounts who actually buy…while TechTarget has always provided named, active prospects within accounts, these new enhancements empower revenue organizations with unmatched visibility into opted-in buyers in active buyers’ journeys to accelerate engagements.”

TechTarget has over 20 million opted-in technology decision-makers and influencers.  Depending on the category, around 70% hold technology titles, with the remainder being buying committee members from other departments also engaged in technology decision-related research.   With rapidly evolving changes in tech decision making, TechTarget data capture prospect functions and roles reflecting a wide range of players often not predicted by historically focused models.

TechTarget is so confident in the value of its intent data that it now labels Priority Engine as “The industry’s only opt-in, Prospect-Level Intent™ data.”

“At the end of the ABM process, it is all about having stronger relationships with the customer.  And delivering improved customer experience is achieved in two ways: By caring to do so and then having the insights necessary to cut away noise and speak directly to customer’s needs.  Prospect-Level Intent is the best way to do this.  In study after study we’ve done, we find that when the properly trained salesperson or whoever’s doing the outreach uses the insights successfully, they will get better response and conversions — ultimately leading to more pipeline.”

John Steinert, TechTarget CMO

A redesigned Priority Engine user interface “provides faster access to buying team contacts within the context of their buyer journey, making it easier for sellers, marketers, and ABM teams to act on Prospect-Level Intent.”  The UI also offers a customized view of top prospects based upon a firm’s ICP and research activity, helping define account rating and list ranking.

“You have to make it easy for [sales] to be able to quickly assess what they need to do in order to take the next best action with the accounts and prospects that they’re going after in their territory – it’s all about enablement,” said TechTarget CMO John Steinert.  “Having that [data-based] connection with marketing allows sales to easily do this and take the easiest, fastest path to revenue easily leveraging precise data and intelligence.”


Continue to Part II

Priority Engine Email Alerts

TechTarget, which gathers second-party, opted-in intent data, released IT Deal Alert Priority Engine Email Alerts.  The overly wordy offering helps “enterprise technology sales teams quickly identify and take action on the best opportunities in their territory.”

TechTarget research found that firms that “target active prospects with timely, relevant outreach generate twice as many opportunities.”  Active prospects are more likely to respond to sales rep outreach, accept meetings, attend meetings, and convert to opportunities (see TechTarget graphic on the bottom).

Priority Engine Email Alerts are delivered weekly and customized for each recipient.  Alerts may be set up by sales rep territory or ABM account lists to monitor “relevant buyer activity” at target accounts.  Sales reps can then click on the alerts to view account reports, contacts, and purchase intent insights (e.g. buying stage, competitors under consideration, relevant topics).  

TechTarget offers both first and second-party intent, so reps know about both technology research conducted on TechTarget’s 140 B2B Technology media sites and on their company’s website (first-party intent is supported via a KickFire OEM deal).

As TechTarget Account profiles include detailed intent data, reps are better able to qualify opportunities, tailor their message, and avoid landmines set by potential competitors.  Ideal Customer Profile Accounts are labeled, helping reps prioritize key Accounts.

“Sales reps are busier than ever and can easily miss opportunities, especially if they don’t have the right data in front of them,” said TechTarget SVP of Products Andrew Briney.  “Priority Engine Email Alerts deliver the best opportunities in their territory directly to their inbox with all the intelligence they need to close more deals faster.”

In their investor presentation in November, TechTarget laid out a series of future enhancements including timeline views of territory activity, contact-centered call lists, SFDC single sign-on, opportunity timelines, leveraging data on customer website visitors, and individual-level qualification and ranking.  Several items, including alerts, territories, and Salesforce syncing, have already been released.

TechTarget will also be launching a Priority Engine Express service for SMBs and resellers this quarter.

Priority Engine Enhancements

Priority Engine improved its Buying Team contacts and added contact card display.

TechTarget announced a set of enhancements to its Priority Engine sales intelligence service.  New features include improved Salesforce sync, refined Buying Team display, contact hygiene, and LinkedIn profile hyperlinks.  Improved Salesforce synchronization gives “sales reps easier access and dynamic visibility into active accounts in their territory, with even more accurate and actionable data on the buying teams within them,” said the firm.

Priority Engine now supports sales territories based on Salesforce account assignments, uploaded account lists, or firmographic rules (e.g. Industry, Geography, Size).  As accounts are added or reassigned within Salesforce, territories are automatically maintained, allowing Priority Engine to dynamically showcase activities within the territory.

Managers and directors can view individual rep account lists or multiple territories at once.

Priority Engine territories may be defined by SFDC, list uploads, or firmographic variables.

TechTarget acquired contact hygiene vendor Oceanos in 2018 and has begun to leverage it in Priority Engine for contact data enrichment and update to its 20 million opted-in contacts.

“Priority Engine helps sales and aligned marketing teams reach and engage more of the right prospects at in-market accounts to improve response and conversation rates,” stated TechTarget

TechTarget also adjusted its contact selection algorithm to improve its buying committee display, “vastly improving the fit of 3rd-party supplemental contacts in Priority Engine.”  A new contact card provides a detailed contact profile within the Buying Team list view.  Previous and Next buttons allow the sales rep to quickly view individual profiles.

Priority Engine also deployed improved persona logic to determine which DiscoverOrg contacts to display for accounts.

Within account views, Buying Teams now list emails, direct dials, and LinkedIn hyperlinks.

“Priority Engine has long provided essential intelligence to help sales teams fuel pipeline and close more deals.  These new enhancements are the first in a series of releases specifically designed to make it even easier for sales pros to access better data and powerful insights to maximize opportunities with active accounts in their territory.”

TechTarget VP of Products Andrew Briney

TechTarget collects second-party intent and opted-in contacts from readers of its 140 technology research sites.  TechTarget sites are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, and Japanese.  Priority Engine supports English, French, and German UIs.

Of the 20 million contacts, 18 million are technology decision-makers or influencers and 2 million work in other functions but are researching technology.  9 million of the contacts are North American, 5 million are located in EMEA, 5 million in APAC, and 600,000 in Latin America.

Priority Engine pricing is customized based on market access and customer feature/function requirements.  Typical individual subscriptions begin around $100K. Designed specifically for the needs of small companies, the Priority Engine Express (PEX) offering – currently in beta release – starts at $36K.

There are over 600 customers for TechTarget intent data products, with 51 added last quarter.  Priority Engine Express will be generally available in 2020.

TechTarget Priority Engine Express

TechTarget Confirmed Projects

TechTarget is taking a soft launch approach to their new Priority Engine Express service for small software vendors and VARs with an early 2020 launch date.  CEO Michael Cotoia said the firm is building a platform which is “simple, streamlined, and scalable.”  Cotoia noted how smaller firms differ in sales and marketing requirements and capabilities from TechTarget’s enterprise clients:

Our smaller customers lack a lot of resources.  They don’t have a marketing automation [platform] many times.  They don’t have an integrated nurture campaign.  They need to understand and have a very friendly user interface, and they’re also very focused on identifying and using this solution as a sales use case with their inside sales reps and even their outside sales reps.  So what we’re really focused on is doing a very simple user interface, focus very much on a sales use case, and understand that we can help them build different types of lists and customized lists; for example, an ideal customer profile list, which is really going to focus on exactly their sweet spot so we can get them the right updates at the right time. They don’t have the resources; they don’t have the complexity.  If they need it simple, they want it towards sales use cases, and we’re learning a lot from that.

TechTarget CEO Michael Cotoia

Cotoia said that TechTarget is taking a market feedback approach to Express development.  As they engage with small customers, they are pausing during the sale to gather feedback to better understand what smaller firms are looking to do.  As they bring on early Express users, they are “tweaking, modifying, adjusting and getting ready to go into 2020.”  Cotoia called the initial feedback in this new market “very positive.”

TechTarget began building an SDR team two years ago to provide a team of appointment setters for their outside sales reps.  “We built that with a vision that we’re going to be looking at additional products that we are going to roll out,” said Cotoia.  “We want to make sure we have the resources on the bench” who are trained in the TechTarget methodology and ready to support new opportunities such as Express “so they are ready to make and take action when we see fit.”

TechTarget has raised the price for Priority Engine since it was launched a few years ago.  “We believe we have pricing power,” said Cotoia.  “We’ve had a couple of pricing increases year-over-year, and we believe we are in the best position to deliver real and observed purchase intent, make it very clear who’s in-market, by which technology segment, by which region and help our customers rank, prioritize and mobilize their sales and marketing efforts again, and we hope that creates some pricing leverage.”


Yesterday, I discussed TechTarget’s strong Q2. The above discussion was held in their Q2 2019 earnings announcement.

TechTarget Posts Strong Q2

Priority Engine provides rich company data including intent data (buying stage, competitors under evaluation, top trends), contacts, social links, and firmographics.

TechTarget posted a strong second quarter with revenues up 9% to $34.3 million.  Growth was led by their Priority Engine technology sales intelligence service which added 38 new customers in Q2 and grew revenue by 44%.  

Long-term contracts now comprise 33% of revenue.

TechTarget expanded its Total Addressable Market (TAM) from 1,500 Enterprise IT vendors to an additional 5,000 IT vendors consisting of small software companies and regional VARs.  The firm has been executing a soft rollout of Priority Engine Express to this expanded universe.

“We are still in the learning stage but the early feedback is that this customer segment is embracing the value proposition,” the firm told shareholders.  “We are increasing the number of salespeople dedicated to this product in the near-term and remain on track for the full product roll-out in 2020.”

“We added several enhancements to Priority Engine in May including Personalized Account Rankings that reflect organic research with TechTarget and direct engagement with the customer to improve marketing and sales effectiveness. Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) creation and filtering directly within Priority Engine to efficiently find, track and convert identified best-fit customers. Enhanced Qualification Intelligence showcases the key attributes that make accounts high priority targets, including buying stage, ICP match and if there is a confirmed project. Improved Engagement Signals show you precisely when accounts visit your website, click on your banners and/or download your content. Indicators of New and Recent Activities give sales users new reasons to call and help them engage the buying team with highly tailored outreach.”

TechTarget Q2 2019 Shareholder Letter

TechTarget provided Q3 revenue guidance between $33 and $34 million and annual guidance of $133 and $134 million.

The firm is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month and used the opportunity to credit its employees.  “We are incredibly grateful to our dedicated team of employees who are smart, innovative, motivated, passionate and hard-working. This team makes us look good and creates a win-win scenario for customers, investors, partners and the communities where we operate. We are especially proud of the transition that the Company has been able to make over the past 5 years from an online media company delivering quarterly marketing campaigns to a purchase intent data company selling annual subscriptions. We think most people would agree that is not an easy transition to make. We are very confident that our best days are ahead of us as we are now a leader in the fast growing data intelligence market.”

TechTarget added Christina Van Houten to its Board.  She currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for Mimecast Limited, a public email management company, where she is responsible for driving corporate development, product management, and market strategy.  She previously held senior positions at Infor, IBM Netezza, and Oracle.  Van Houten has “more than two decades of extensive, focused experience in marketing strategy with some of the world’s largest firms as well as significant corporate and business experience.”  She has an MBA from the Booth School (University of Chicago) and a BA from Georgetown.


Continue to Part II on Priority Engine Express and the expansion of their target market to include small software vendors and value-added resellers.

TechTarget Priority Engine Adds KickFire Visitor Intelligence

TechTarget Benefits
TechTarget Benefits

TechTarget Priority Engine has begun integrating first-party intent data with its proprietary third-party intent intelligence.  First-party intent data enhances account rankings and insights.  According to TechTarget, “Marketing and sales teams will now be able to leverage this new intelligence to get to the right accounts and prospects faster, increasing conversions and accelerating pipeline.”

Priority Engine launched three years ago with TechTarget’s firmographics and third-party intent derived from its 140 enterprise technology media sites.  The new data includes Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) matching, vendor website engagement, and customer content and advertising across the TechTarget network.

First-party website intent is available through a partnership with KickFire.

New account intelligence and tools include

  • Personalized account rankings based on first and third-party intent data
  • ICP definition and filtering
  • Enhanced qualification intelligence including buying stage, ICP match, and confirmed projects
  • Improved engagement signals such as account website visits, content downloads, and banner clicks
  • Recent activity indicators.

“TechTarget has always focused on delivering ROI,” said Michael Cotoia, CEO, TechTarget.  “These new updates now make it even easier for our customers to close deals faster by helping them find the prospects that are directly in their sweet spot.”

Other recent product enhancements include opted-in “Project Insiders” and “Confirmed Project Details” that have been validated by project insiders.

Priority Engine has been deployed at over 400 customers including Oracle, Citrix, IBM, HPE, and AWS.

TechTarget Confirmed Projects

TechTarget's new Confirmed Project details are collected by their research assistants.
TechTarget’s new Confirmed Project details are collected by their research assistants.

TechTarget added a set of Confirmed Projects to their Priority Engine service.  Projects include company information, project location, project contact name, purchase criteria, and purchase details.  Purchase criteria include top purchase drivers, product feature criteria, and vendors under consideration.  

Purchase details include capabilities being considered, key factors in choice of vendor(s), deployment method, departments where the purchase will be used, and anticipated benefits.

“The integration of Confirmed Project intelligence within the platform provides an expanded view of the Total Buying Team as well as new deal insights and angles – all in one place – to help Sales teams win more meetings, opportunities and deals.  The addition of Confirmed Project data provides a much deeper layer of intelligence on project criteria, specific vendor shortlists and key purchase drivers which enriches and expands insights available within Priority Engine to give sales teams more points of entry into live deals.”


TechTarget Press Release

Confirmed Projects are displayed alongside TechTarget intelligence including Owler company overviews, TechTarget buying teams, DiscoverOrg contacts, and HG Data installed technologies.

TechTarget Confirmed Projects are displayed within Salesforce Account i-frames.
TechTarget Confirmed Projects are displayed within Salesforce Account i-frames.

Confirmed Projects are collected by TechTarget’s “team of skilled in-house research assistants who are responsible for calling active prospects from high-ranking Priority Engine accounts.”  Prospects exchange project intelligence in exchange for TechTarget research.

TechTarget intelligence is accessible from “any browser and imported directly into Salesforce.”


“We saw rapid growth in the use of Priority Engine to fuel inside sales efforts in 2018 as more and more of our customers’ sales teams are using the insights we provide into prospect interests, research focus, vendor considerations, and tech installs. Using this data, leading sales teams have seen up to a 4x increase in opportunity conversion. The addition of Confirmed Projects within Priority Engine will fuel this growth even more.”


TechTarget SVP of Products Andrew Briney

Priority Engine raised revenues 29% in Q4 year-over-year and “bookings remain strong.”  The firm signed an additional 32 customers in Q4 and the firm raised Priority Engine prices by 10% in January 2019 after raising them 20% in January 2018.  The price increase was across all Priority Engine solutions.  As price increases are recognized over the life of contracts and renewals are overweighted to Q4, much of the 2018 price increase will show up in 2019 revenues.

“People that signed up prior to the beginning of the year were protected in their previous year’s pricing, but then we added other add-on bundles and solutions, because…we are integrating a lot of our branding lead generation offers into Priority Engine,” said CEO Mike Cotoia.  “So there is an up-sell capability and opportunity for our customers to…create a greater share of voice percentage within the markets they care about.”

“Our customers continue to increase their commitment to becoming data-driven sales and marketing organizations. This is creating opportunities to strengthen our partnerships with our customers by further embedding our purchase intent data into their systems to make their sales and marketing efforts more intelligent, competitive and efficient.”


TechTarget Shareholders Letter, February 6, 2019

TechTarget admitted that the data subscription business differs significantly from their traditional quarterly marketing campaigns.  Over the past two years, they have learned that service requirements vary greatly by size.  Larger firms “who have sophisticated systems and ample resources” can immediately leverage intent data for awareness campaigns and fueling sales outreach.  Enterprise accounts have revenue renewal rates “well over 100%.”  However, smaller firms require more handholding and renew at less than 100% of revenue.  To assist SMBs, TechTarget has assembled a unified customer success team to offer post-sales service and support.  “We believe over time that this will increase our revenue renewal rates with this customer segment. “

TechTarget described a strong IT spending environment with multiple catalysts for growth: AI, security, data analytics, and cloud migrations.  In the US, accelerated depreciation of capital expenses through 2022 gives “companies a short window to invest in technology with favorable tax treatment.”

TechTarget: Priority Engine Hitting on All Cylinders in Q2

TechTarget LogoTechTarget, which offers both IT media sites and technology sales and marketing intelligence, posted $31.5 million in Q2 earnings, up 18% year-over-year.  Growth was driven by their Priority Engine Technology Sales Intelligence service which grew revenues 60% year-over-year.  The firm noted that “revenue growth continues to be driven by our leadership position in purchase intent data and our customers’ transition to becoming data driven sales and marketing organizations.”

IT Deal Alerts revenue was up 21% to $14 million as the customer base grew from 500 to 600 clients.  The firm also signed more than 40 new Priority Engine clients in the quarter (to approximately 250).

The new Priority Engine enhancements, which were released in early May, have been “well received in the market place.”  New features included improvements to the user experience, a new Salesforce widget, persistent URLs, list assignments, user roles, and improved topic filtering.

Furthermore, Priority Engine is shifting the firm to a recurring revenue model with 34% of revenue now attributable to longer-term contracts.  Approximately 80% of subscription revenue comes from medium and large firms and 20% from smaller firms, “typically VC-backed start-ups.”  The revenue renewal rate for medium and large customers is “well over 100%,” said the firm in its earnings press release.  “Those customers are finding great value in our purchase intent data and are renewing and buying more from us at high rates.”

However, TechTarget has a higher churn rate on smaller customers due to common issues inherent to smaller firms such as “changing go-to-market priorities, budget or funding reductions, personnel turnover, etc.”  The issue of small customer churn exists for both their core services and longer-term contracts.  To reduce churn, the firm is taking three steps: improving the ease of use of products; expanding their Customer Success team which owns customer on-boarding, training and monitoring; and building a dedicated sales team responsible for renewing and upselling.  Splitting sales into hunters and farmers will allow the “existing sales team to hunt for new opportunities.”

TechTarget also announced the acquisition of contact data management firm Oceanos.

TechTarget Scoops up Oceanos Marketing

TechTarget LogoTucked into the tail end of TechTarget’s earnings release last week was notice that they had acquired Oceanos Marketing, a contact data management company.  Both firms are based in the Boston suburbs.  Oceanos brings “data quality and data management expertise that will help us improve our offerings and deliver better results to our customers.”

Oceanos began as a list broker in 2002, but has since evolved into a B2B contact aggregator and data refinery.  The firm aggregates 97 million active US contact records (as of August 2017) and retains millions of inactive names and emails to assist with hygiene.  Data is aggregated from over a dozen vendors and includes social data from FullContact and Pipl.  Oceanos provides data enrichment, TAM analysis, net-new contacts, and a set of data specialists to assist with projects.

TechTarget manages a smaller set of 18 million subscriber profiles, 16 million of which are technology professionals.  The Oceanos acquisition should allow TechTarget to improve both the quality of their subscriber dataset and expand coverage into non-technology positions.  As technology purchase decision making has expanded beyond tech titles, Oceanos provides significant lift into other job functions.  Oceanos contacts are mapped to 12 Job Functions, 109 Sub-functions, and 7 Job Levels.

Oceanos President Brian P. Hession identified their differentiators as their unique blend of technology, professional services, and data quality. With data quality being critical to ABM sales and marketing initiatives, the inclusion of real world project fulfillment through their program specialists provides Oceanos with data quality insights that are used to continuously inform and enhance the data quality processes. “We apply both technology and real-world insights to ensure the highest quality of data before we are releasing it. We are incorporating a continuous stream of data quality insights into our code to address the many nuances that a program specialist encounters manually on a dataset,” said Hession last summer.  “The way that Oceanos is going to be successful in the future is if we can assemble an internal contact database that is of the highest quality in the industry.  So there’s been a lot of focus on putting models on top of our contact data.”

“Social data plays a role in our data hygiene process and serves as a ‘signal’ within both our Data Quality Score (DQS) and ABM Usability Score. The social information is sourced from reputable partners,” said Hession.  “Oceanos does not scrape contacts across LinkedIn or, in that vein, any social media site. All of our contact records originate from carefully selected third party data providers.”

The acquisition cost was not announced but was deemed “non-material.”  Oceanos 2017 revenue was around $5 million.