Today’s business world is driven by data, regardless if you’re in sales or marketing. If you’re a B2B sales-led organization, knowing what technology a prospective customer is using could give your organization a huge advantage. 

Every business runs on technology. The tools and applications companies use provides insight into their tech buying habits, how they work, the challenges they face and what tech they’ll buy next. For technology providers, technographics is your lens into this world. This data provides a competitive advantage for your business.

The question is, how do you find out what technology a company uses?

What are Technographics?

“Technographics” is a fairly new term, but it is beginning to reshape the way we sell and market. The tools and applications companies use provides insight into their tech buying habits, how they work, the challenges they face and what tech they’ll buy next. For technology providers, technographics is your lens into this world. This data provides a competitive advantage for your business.

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. Many technology companies still rely on firmographics data (company size, vertical, location) and demographics data (contact title, work history, social handles) to identify sales targets, to identify ideal customer profiles, total addressable markets and craft marketing messaging. 

But these data sets don’t tell much about how your prospects work, what tech they use and buy, or what keeps them up at night. Without this context, you’re forced to operate blindly. Companies don’t want to target and sell solutions to prospects who won’t buy. Technographics data solves these business problems.

What can we infer about a marketing team that recently ditched their marketing automation platform? Or a sales team that just invested in a CRM? Or a startup that just announced a $10M funding round and recently visited our website? These buying signals are central to the power of technographics and are reshaping the way technology companies sell, market and support. Technographics customer profiling helps teams identify the right companies to target.

How to collect technographic data?

Technographic data companies use several data collection tactics  The primary methods for collecting technographic data are scanning the web using a combination of web crawling, third party providers and natural language processing.

Domain Analysis & Web Crawling

Most technologies leave behind a footprint or “signature” that helps the crawler identify it from other elements of a website or mobile app. Technographic data is primarily collected by finding and organizing these “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 examples:

TECHNOLOGYSIGNATURE
WordPress< meta name=’generator’ content=’WordPress…’ />
Google Analytics‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
Marketosrc=’//munchkin.marketo.net/147′

By finding and cataloging these signatures across millions of sites, you can see which companies are using a given technology. And better yet — if the crawler checks each site daily, you can take note of when certain technologies appear or disappear. These technology “adds” and “drops” are important buying signals because they often indicate an immediate or upcoming technology change. Once collected, businesses can start applying technographic data to various sales and marketing functions. Imagine knowing exactly when one of your target accounts drops a competitor. You now know the right time to reach out, and the necessary context to have a meaningful conversation.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is an additional method for collecting technographic data.

What is Natural Language Processing?

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

For technologies that leave no footprint (think databases, CRMs and other solutions), natural language processing provides an alternative method for identifying deployment. This involves scanning and digesting the world of unstructured data — text from job postings, social media, press releases and more — to infer a relationship between a company and particular technology.

For example, a job posting for “Salesforce Admin” that appears on a company’s careers page indicates that this company is using Salesforce for its CRM. The world of unstructured data is vast, so this method calls for complex keyword targeting and an eye for detail.

Other collection methods like customer surveys and crowdsourcing can also produce results. These methods are typically used to supplement crawling and NLP because they are often challenging to keep updated.

Is there a difference between technographics and digital usage habits?

Technographic data are insights on specific technologies that a company purchases, adds and drops. Digital usage habits refers to the utilization of digital platforms and technologies. This can include social media platforms, engagement patterns and usage models that include time, location, duration, and demographics of users. Technographics data is primarily focused on applications and IT in both digital and non digital environments. For example, technographics providers can look at on-premise (digital and SaaS technologies) as well as premium off-premise technologies such as servers, CRMs, ERPs and other technology.

How Do I Use Technographic Data?

  1. Marketing
    • Inbound Marketing and Technographics: Add technographic data to any marketing automation platform to enrich inbound leads as soon as they submit a form. Once enriched, you can segment and nurture leads based on the technologies they use and trigger sales notifications when a technology is added or dropped.
    • Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Technographics: Combine technographics with predictive analytics to find new and existing accounts that look like your ideal customer profile (ICP). Technographics customer profiling helps your marketing and sales teams work in a data-driven manner. Identify which accounts are most likely to buy by responding to buying signals like technology changes, funding rounds and company news.
    • Technographics and Total Addressable Market (TAM): Use technographics data to better identify your total addressable market. Tech usage data can identify what companies use specific technologies and provide a profile of those organizations. You can then identify all other companies that meet the same criteria and combine it with firmographic data as well (size, revenue, location, etc.). Your total addressable market is more accurate and extensive when combined with data models that contain technographic data.
  2. Sales
    • Technographics and Sales Teams: Find and engage accounts that use competitive or complementary technologies. Want to destroy your competition? Find out who uses your competitor’s products and target them. Receive alerts and find out when someone adds or drops your competitors technology. Use data enrichment with CRM records so you can craft pitches that fit with every prospect and the solutions they use. Get notified when one of your accounts changes technology providers or exhibits other buying signals like raising a funding round or opening a new office. Combine technographic data with high-quality contact data to improve sales development efficiency.
  3. Customer Success
    • Stop Customer Churn: Spot churn risks ahead of time by identifying customers that are testing out a technology provider you compete with. Understand which customers are strong candidates for upsell based on buying signals like technology changes, funding rounds and company news. Combine technographics with predictive analytics to identify customers with the highest lifetime value.
    • 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. Business Intelligence
    • Gain Valuable Data Insights: Technographic data is highly valuable for business intelligence teams. BI teams can mitigate risks and help their business make smart decisions by gathering insights on technology deployments around the world or across verticals. With tech usage data, BI teams can identify the growth or reduction between different customer profiles and their tech purchasing behavior. This data can provide data-driven insights on whether a product or R&D team should invest in one innovation or pivot to a new direction. Adding this data to other data models allows their organization to have a better understanding of competition, customers, and market opportunities.

Technographics In Action

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.

Here’s 5 things we learned about Patagonia’s technographics after using an unnamed technographic data provider in less than 30 seconds.

  1. Patagonia cares about site speed and performance. They use Akamai, a top-of-the-line CDN, to deliver 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.  

Where can I find additional resources on technographics?

Where can I find additional resources on technographics?

Conclusion on Technographic Data

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.

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