B2B organizations continue to push the envelope and find better ways to act on intent data insights, and in turn, buyers are being reached quicker and having their businesses’ pain points addressed in real time.
Intent data, when harnessed by sales and marketing teams, is exponentially shortening sales cycles, and because of this, it only makes sense that intent data activation is a top priority within B2B organizations. Although intent data is a popular tool in the B2B marketing and ABM communities, it can be daunting. And coming from someone who used to get the intent data jitters, I can reassure you that it’s not scary, it’s actually quite fascinating and is very impactful for your ABM programs success.
To help boost your intent data confidence, let’s address some of the most frequently asked questions on intent data and get a better understanding on how to harness its full potential.
What is intent data?
According to an article from Bombora, “Intent data is information collected about a web users’ observed behavior – specifically web content consumption – that provides insights into their interests,”.
For B2B sales and marketing teams this shows which businesses, and sometimes contact level data showing specifically who is getting closer to a purchase decision. Furthermore, these signals will display a buyer’s intent towards a specific action making it easier for sales teams to follow up with more personalized outreach that caters to that specific account’s interest. These insights ultimately save valuable time and cost for B2B organizations.
What are the different types of intent data?
Intent data generally consists of 3 types based on how it was sourced: first-party intent data, second-party intent data, and third-party intent data. Each type of intent data has strengths and weaknesses, which is why a blended data source strategy works best.
What is first-party intent data?
First-party intent data is internal and derived from interactions that happen across all your own sales and marketing tools. Unmasked website activity, leads matched to accounts, and sales engagement in CRM are all examples of first-party intent. first-party intent data is highly reliable, and can clearly define who the customers are and if they are showing purchase intent.
What is second-party intent data?
Second-party intent data consists of first-party intent data signals from another company. Second-party intent data is most commonly associated with review sites. Vendors like TrustRadius and G2 collect first-party intent data on companies researching categories and vendors on their platforms, which businesses can buy as second-party data. Compared to third-party intent data, second-party intent data signals are generally further downstream, making the signals best for flagging accounts that are in their final decision stages. Learn more about second-party intent data from TrustRadius.
What is third-party intent data?
Third-party intent consists of and is collected from research and buying activity occurring on channels and properties owned by others, allowing for a broader view of your market. Examples of such places are searches, analyst white papers, event attendance, video views, and more. In comparison to first-party signals, third-party data signals typically occur earlier in the buyer’s journey, making these signals best for reaching leads early in the decision process.
How can I use multiple intent data sources together?
Multiple intent data sources can be leveraged together by sales and marketing teams. Sources that are more upstream such as third-party intent signals like reading an article about a specific intent topic, are best suited for top-of-funnel activities such as building advertising audiences. Sources that are more downstream such as comparing vendors on review sites can be best leveraged by activating SDR outreach. Layering multiple sources of intent data helps you to identify and target more of your total addressable market when they show intent.
How can intent data providers work together?
As Andrew Mahr said in our Demystifying Intent Data Webinar with TrustRadius, nothing drives progress forward like a customer’s desire for wanting more out of a product. Intent data providers are no different, if you have multiple intent data providers and want to get the most out of them, it’s time to talk to your rep. With a little push, you might be able to get your providers to fill in the gaps that give your business the most comprehensive view of the buyer’s journey.
Why advocate for your providers to work together? Because chances are each provider has their own speciality in the type of intent data, or in the way they collect their data. On another note, keep a tab of all the intent data sources your organization is already utilizing. You may be surprised how many teams in your organization have separate sources but fail to blend all the data together to get a comprehensive and cohesive picture of potential buyers.
“Sometimes organizations have five or more intent data sources as a deliberate strategy, however many times it’s multiple teams buying their own intent data platform and you end up with an unintentional blend of signals that can be brought together,” said Andrew Mahr.
How do I prioritize different types of intent data?
A good starting point is to look at the intent data source and compare how much coverage your SDRs have relative to the number of accounts the data sourced. If you look at one source of data tracking x number of accounts with a good ratio to your SDRs, you can have sales prioritize that outreach. Additionally, with intent you can refocus your targeting with channels like ads. With both sales outreach and advertising using intent data, you’ll want to balance the volume of intent signals with intensity of the signal.
“If you’re getting started with intent data, very often what we see people do is say ‘what’s my lowest performing ad campaign,’ pull some of that budget, and recycle the budget on an intent data campaign for better early results,” said Andrew Mahr.
How do I make intent data actionable for my sales team?
To get the most out of your intent data you need a combined effort between sales and marketing to keep everyone on the same page as well as a mutual understanding on what various buyer signals mean. This allows sales to follow up with the best action possible and enhance their messaging to buyers.
For sales to get the most out of your data, sales teams need to have conversations often to discuss the best plan of action when a buyer signal is received. Knowing the appropriate action for each signal helps smooth out and speed up the sales process. Frequent conversations on this process lead to more consistent results.
Next, you need to iron out your contact acquisition process. You have a signal, but knowing who to reach out and the process necessary to do so is important. Frequent this conversation within your sales team so your process is streamlined.
“Understanding that last mile, of who you’re actually going to reach out to, is very important to make these insights actionable and then also making them measurable,” said Mahr.
What metrics should I use to track and optimize my intent data?
When it comes to optimizing your intent data, the metrics you track are paramount to your growth and overall success. One important metric to track is the volume of intent data to sales coverage ratio. This logistical metric allows your team to allocate resources and fine tune your GTM strategy. Once you have a better idea internally what is realistic, your team can focus on the accounts most likely to convert.
Another metric sales and marketing should keep track of, is what % of our budget is being spent towards accounts showing purchase intent. A lot of ABM programs fail to prioritize their spend on the right accounts, but with intent data you can eliminate this obstacle by keeping track of your budget allocation. Spending around 50%-60% of your budget on accounts with identified purchase intent is ideal. Anything much higher like 90% per say, you will potentially miss out on new demand gen opportunities. Having a good balance in your budget between new opportunities and identified accounts showing purchase intent is ideal for most ABM programs.
It can be tempting to allocate more spend towards accounts giving you purchase signals that you can act upon, but it’s best to operate your ABM program with a blend of creating demand gen opportunities and acting on intent data insights. Although intent is powerful, it also has constraints, but nonetheless it’s easy to manage if you are tracking the right metrics.
How do you identify which contacts are consuming content?
Knowing which contacts are consuming your content is a huge advantage. More often than not though, intent data providers only provide account-level information on who is consuming content. But with Foundry Intent, you can identify the buying group consuming your content at the contact-level with data from your website, social media interactions, engagements across the public web, and research signals on global content and Foundry’s proprietary audiences from our publishing network, events data, and branded conversations with real people.
For more information check out the Foundry Intent information page.
How does sales use intent data for their GTM strategy?
Sales uses intent data in a lot of the ways listed above; as a measurement or tool to adjust and target accounts efficiently. Purchase signals help establish a baseline for your GTM strategy by first identifying which accounts are ready to buy, and what channels to best target identified accounts with. Sales will adjust which channels, language, and content will benefit an account based on their position in the purchase journey.
Sales team can use the intent data you’ve gathered to slim down your account list and give your GTM strategy a more targeted approach. A GTM strategy that is planned while taking your intent data signals into account, is going to be more time and cost-efficient. Your resources and focus are dialed in on the accounts most likely to convert, giving you an advantage right off the bat, and enabling sales to ignore unwanted noise.
How can I use intent data for account-based advertising?
For example, you may find a previously cold audience is now researching a selected intent topic or a competitor. With these insights you can be first to the conversation and make sure buyers are seeing relevant offers from your business. These early purchase signals go beyond direct website traffic and allow you to retarget cold audiences that are now surging with ads.
While it may seem like there is a lot that goes into intent data, I want to stress that it’s more so there is a lot you can DO with intent data. This may sound like an overly optimistic approach to intent, but in reality it’s the truth. Far too often intent data experts scare those who could benefit the most from intent data with big words that make grasping the initial understanding of intent data more complicated than it needs to be.
To harness the full potential of your intent data I’d like to challenge you to focus and explore all the ways you can actively influence purchase decisions with your data source. However, start small, keep your goals attainable, and have frequent conversations with your sales team and CSM at your intent data providers. As you slowly use your intent data in new ways, you will continue to learn from hands-on experience and become an expert yourself.