Intent data is becoming an increasingly important tool among B2B organizations and retail marketers. In fact, 62% of companies now use one or more intent data solutions. Yet, as a new product category, intent data can be complex.
Gartner describes intent data as information that shows a prospect’s level of online interest in a particular product or service. It includes prospects’ web searches, the pages they visit, and the content they consume.
Data gatherers find this raw information from a variety of online sources. The acquired details, however, do not follow a one-size-fits-all application. Some common sources are ad platforms, search engines, marketing content, internet scraping through bots, web traffic analysis, and third-party sources.
Evolution of Intent Data
A survey of U.S. marketers last year showed that 52% of respondents used intent data to deliver targeted ad content. It also found that 47% said they used it for email marketing. From both use cases, using intent data enables sales teams to get in front of potential clients sooner in their buying journeys. It also assists marketers in finding potential buyers who are unaware of their company.
A well-devised content strategy produces more reliable leads that increase sales and conversion rates. Intent marketing strategy gives researchers a competitive edge. Its goal is to target buyers with content they need to lead them to focus on your selling proposition.
The original notion behind this marketing strategy was to use behavioral data that provided a strong indication of a purchase based on human behavior, according to Charlie Allieri, COO at Intentsify, an intent-based marketing software company.
“It was originally called purchase intent data,” Allieri told CRM Buyer. “However, it has evolved over the years to online signals that mark a prospect’s level of interest in a particular service or product and the likelihood of it transitioning into a purchase.” This includes information surrounding a prospect’s web searches, pages visited, and the content consumed.
Utilizing the Different Layers of Data
One effective way to leverage intent data is to analyze what visitors to your website are doing, known as acquiring first-party data. Then, intent data is beneficial because marketing teams can effectively see what product pages visitors look at, what content they read, and how much time they spend on your site.
Another layer of intent data is found in second-party data — information abstracted from customer or prospect information a partner or business associate shares. For example, warehousing emails, phone numbers, software integration, etc., are easily pulled from CRM systems or bot searches.
Second-party data is often more significant than first-party data. It is also much less expensive than third-party intent data because you already have it in your own records.
Third-party data can fill in the gaps in your intent marketing strategy. Taking this approach to scope out potential ready-to-buy customers can be a bigger-budgeted item. To acquire third-party data, you must engage with organizations that sift through their own data connections of online information and app publishers.
One of the advantages of using third-party data suppliers is that the information can be linked to CRM data and send sales teams notifications when targeted accounts give off intent signals.
Technological Growth Bred Complexity and Reliability
With the dawn of digital transformation, the B2B buying process has become more complex. That resulted in much of the buyer journey happening through independent research online, noted Allieri.
“As a result, companies require deeper insight into their sales funnel to focus resources on the organizations most likely to buy. Intent data provides information about the entire customer lifecycle while aggregating different types of signals to bring clarity to the buyer’s journey map,” he offered.
This approach enables go-to-market (GTM) teams to prioritize their outreach efforts accordingly. Driving the operational efficiency of marketing programs has always been a key goal for business leaders.
“But now it is paramount to surviving ongoing economic turbulence. In short, businesses are adopting intent data because it works,” Allieri said.
Intent data provides immediate opportunities for B2B enterprises to streamline GTM and sales processes, and it helps them reach the right customers faster and boost bottom lines.
Understanding which prospects are more likely to convert — and what type of messaging would resonate most with them — allows marketers to focus their energies on those prospects that give them the best and fastest path to success.
“That value proposition ultimately is what drives adoption,” he said.
Accelerating Pipeline and Revenue Growth
The 2023 economy has changed the outlook for many B2B organizations, Allieri noted. GTM teams at even the largest enterprises are now only a fraction of their former size.
“A growth-at-all-cost mindset has shifted in favor of businesses driving greater efficiency and improving processes to maximize revenue. This has led strategy-focused teams to turn to buyer-intent intelligence and activation solutions to save time and money while driving measurable revenue impact,” Allieri offered.
With a next-generation precision internet data platform, GTM teams can prioritize their time. They can more effectively budget toward higher-value prospects that may be further down the buyer’s journey or a top-tier in-market account on the target account list.
“By leveraging these insights, marketers can develop highly personalized and effective campaigns that target accounts that are ready to buy and ultimately drive ROI,” Allieri explained.
Intent Data Use Cases Prove the Point
Used correctly, intent data can fuel many use cases across strategy, CX, marketing, sales, and customer success teams. It can also drive buyer journey mapping, target account list development, account prioritization, lead generation, customer churn prevention, and more.
Key Advantages of Using Intent Data for Sales and Marketing
Personalizing Customer Engagement: Intent data helps companies better understand their customers’ interests and behavior, allowing them to personalize their engagement with customers. By tracking online behaviors such as website visits, content downloads, and social media interactions, intent data provides insight into what customers are interested in and what they are looking for. This information can be used to tailor marketing campaigns and sales pitches and provide customers with personalized recommendations and offers.
Lead Scoring and Segmentation: Intent data can be used to identify potential customers actively searching for products or services that a company offers. By analyzing data on a prospect’s online activity and engagement with a company’s content, intent data can help prioritize leads and segment them based on their level of interest and likelihood to purchase. This approach can improve the efficiency of sales and marketing teams, allowing them to focus their efforts on the most promising prospects.
Improving Account-Based Marketing (ABM): Account-based marketing is a targeted marketing strategy that focuses on specific accounts rather than individual leads. Intent data is critical in ABM as it helps identify accounts showing a high level of interest in a company’s products or services. By tracking the online behaviors of target accounts, companies can personalize their outreach efforts and tailor their messaging to the specific needs and interests of the account. This can improve the effectiveness of ABM and increase the likelihood of closing deals.
For example, Intentsify’s Intelligence Activation platform pulls and analyzes intent data to equip organizations with the most precise intent on the market. Other second-generation intent solutions available today equally weigh manually selected topics and keywords.
Intentsify’s solution uses advanced natural language processing (NLP) to analyze website pages. It uses messaging to measure the alignment of that research to a unique value proposition.
This function automatically selects topics, keywords, and products to monitor and weigh them accordingly, offering businesses unique value propositions to reach qualified leads better, he explained.
Intentsify’s platform also provides URL visibility, which gives customers confidence in the validity of the signal.
Many existing intent data tools use finite topic and keyword lists and predefined models to generate intent signals. If marketers lack precise journey mapping, they run the risk of improperly targeting leads and ultimately wasting money.
That, too, can turn off a prospective customer. This approach provides a generic solution for all and does not account for the subtleties in GTM messaging that differentiate each B2B marketer, added Allieri about what makes this approach so effective.
As GTM teams are forced to do more with less, the need for precision is paramount. But when using a generic intent model, in which topics are often weighted equally and don’t dive into specific values based on the level of reference, it’s difficult to pinpoint who is poised to buy.
“This close-enough methodology skews insights and limits a team’s ability to scale performance across all marketing, sales, and customer success use cases,” said Allieri.
Today's Challenges Turned Into Opportunities
Varying types of intent data and intent-derivation methodologies present an excellent opportunity for B2B organizations, but these remain largely fragmented, warned Allieri.
Each intent feed only provides B2B organizations with a quick snapshot of prospective buyers’ research activities. Consequently, intent data silos prevent the full view of the market landscape.
Reaping the full benefits of intent data requires aggregating multiple feeds to provide broad coverage and verify the most vital signals. Although various intent sources monitor the same web properties, they use different scoring methodologies.
“So results may differ significantly. If two or more intent sources highlight the same signals, it is a substantially stronger indication of buying intent,” Allieri said.
Getting Started With Buyer Intelligence
Marketers can apply a variety of ways to begin incorporating intent data into their strategies. First and foremost, Allieri cautioned, marketers can prioritize which accounts are in-market for a specific solution.
Then they can leverage topic and keyword data to craft excellent messaging that speaks to a lead’s needs. This content can then be used in digital advertising, email nurturing, and more.
“Next-level buyer intelligence informs marketers which strategies and tactics to prioritize, enabling GTM teams to efficiently deliver exceptional, effective, and efficient full-funnel buying experiences that drive revenue,” he added.
Equipped with this information, marketing teams can better identify in-market accounts, implement targeted advertising, generate leads, and develop highly-customized content and messaging. These are complementary strategies that enhance traditional marketing tactics.