Savvy organizations of all sizes harness any advantage to win a sale. Intent data is among the latest advantages being leveraged by business-to-business firms. This actionable intelligence can help generate leads, nurture prospects through their purchase lifecycle, drive sales, and reduce churn.
In fact, 82% of surveyed B2B and B2C marketers found the effectiveness of intent data at achieving objectives has increased in the past 12 months, according to Ascend2 and its research partners.
With buyers increasingly turning to online content to learn about products and services, intent data is changing the game for B2B marketers as well as the sales teams who receive their leads.
How Intent Data Differs From Behavioral Data and Interest Data
Behavioral data, interest data, and intent data all capture consumer behavior and are often used interchangeably. Yet, we see differences in the depth of consumer understanding they can each provide.
Behavioral data, which can be gathered from a variety of sources including the web, wearables, emails, help centers, and video calls, helps answer the question, “What is this person currently doing?”
Interest data is primarily gathered from actions people take online like sharing content, searching for information, clicking links and photos, and viewing web pages. It helps answer the question, “What is this person currently interested in?”
Intent data is largely gathered from online shares, searches, clicks, and views and can indicate a person’s potential intent to take a specific action. It helps answer the question, “What might this person do next?” These next steps are commonly used in the context of a purchase and are referred to as “buyer intent.”
While interest is an inherent component in intent, here’s how intent data is distinct from interest data:
- Intent data has a momentum of sorts, a motion, a sense that someone is going on a journey that could eventually lead to a sale.
- Intent data has a time component that can be interpreted by data science. You can learn a consumer will likely make a purchase or take a specific action in the near term, like within six months, for example.
- Intent data involves a level of intensity. You can think of it as “a ton of interest” or “weighted interest.” It’s not just that someone reads or shares an article about a customer data platform (CDP), for instance, but that they frequently read and share articles about it. Intent data strengthens the meaning of actions like sharing, viewing, and clicking.
- Intent data de-anonymizes website traffic at the company level or account level, often using a reverse IP methodology paired with other mapping techniques. You can learn that employees of a specific company might be browsing your landing pages, for instance. B2B buyers can interpret intent data as any form of interest data that is associated with an IP or company.
Sources of Intent Data for B2B Marketing
There are two primary kinds of intent data: First-party data and third-party data.
First-party intent data is the information you collect yourself from interactions users have with your company. Examples include:
- Sign-ups for your webinars, white papers, or a demo
- Time spent reading content on your website about how your product or service works
- The level of engagement with your emails
As with all first-party information, there are limitations. You only have visibility into how people are engaging with your own properties. In addition, you don’t have access to the intent signals of prospects who have not yet visited your website, app, or other assets.
Such narrow insights can be problematic in light of Gartner’s finding that prospects spend 50% of their time seeking information from third-party sources.
Third-party intent data is the information that data providers collect from users browsing the open web. These intent signals offer access to the broader view you need and can help you understand when audiences are taking actions like:
- Reading about your company on a third-party review site
- Searching for the pain points your category of service or product can address
- Viewing competitor content on social media
You can enhance the effectiveness of your intent data strategy by leveraging both first-party and third-party intent data.
Using third-party data that is captured in real-time adds even more power to the marketing strategy, and so does enriching intent data with intelligence that offers context about a user. This includes the type of company someone works at, the number of employees, and their job title.
Some Ways You Can Employ Intent Data
Intent data can help you achieve a variety of critical objectives. These include:
Find Buyers Who are in the Market for your B2B Product or Service
Someone reading reviews about CDPs, watching videos about mistakes to avoid when hiring a CDP vendor, and sharing content about CDPs on social media could be sending signals that they’re in the market for the software. Intent data can help you identify and engage prospects when they first begin their research, which gives you a head start on competitors.
Determine the Most Promising B2B Leads
Today it’s not only about the quantity of leads a marketing team collects, but also about the quality. Targeting the wrong leads is a top complaint people in sales have about their marketing team, according to a survey from Ascend2 and SharpSpring.
Intent data can help you evaluate and prioritize leads. You can analyze which actions represent intent and incorporate them into your lead-scoring models. For example, software vendors can assign points to users who visit a third-party review site about CDPs.
This use of intent data is catching on: 47% of surveyed B2B marketers say they are using intent data to better assess prospects who are actively researching a buying decision, a study from Demand Gen Report found.
Determine Where Active Buyers are in their B2B Purchase Journey
Someone searching for “What is a CDP?” is likely earlier in the research stage than someone searching for “What platform integrates with my existing Martech stack?”
Personalize Messages to Target B2B Audiences
When you can understand when someone is in-market and where they are in their purchase journey, you can target and retarget them with relevant messages—and do so at the time they’ve consistently demonstrated the most engagement.
- A CDP vendor can promote one white paper to buyers who are trying to understand the basics of the software and another to those researching tech integrations.
- If a potential buyer visited a CDP vendor’s website, that vendor can send retargeted ads about product features.
- If prospects sign up for an email list, the CDP vendor can segment emails and send content that’s relevant to where each buyer is in their journey.
Notably, targeting is a key ingredient for account-based marketing efforts as well.
Play Defense on B2B Churn
You can learn when existing customers are exploring the content of competitors. Armed with this knowledge, your account team can reach out personally or with content to address potential problems.
Improve B2B Content Marketing Efforts
Content that business users aren’t clicking on, viewing, or sharing is probably not meeting their needs. You can use intent data—including the keywords and phrases people are using in search—to better understand which topics and formats perform best with your target audience.
Bright Road Ahead for Intent Data
As you can see, intent data can provide B2B marketers with key insights that help them do their jobs better and keep their sales colleagues busy.
It’s playing an important role today and will continue to after third-party cookies fade away. The new, advanced solutions that are arising give us confidence about the cookieless future, and we know intent data-based solutions will continue to thrive and stay top-of-mind.