eBook: How to optimize your ABM strategy with intent data

We know intent data can seem a little intimidating. In this eBook, we’ll show you how to implement intent data and use it to create effective account-based marketing campaigns.

It’s no secret that B2B buyers are changing.

Today’s B2B buyer is better informed than ever before, which comes with a growing preference for self-service buying experiences (i.e., opting to research products on their own as opposed to connecting with a salesperson). In fact, when surveyed, 87% of B2B buyers said they would prefer to self-serve all or part of their buying journey – meaning by the time a buyer fills out a contact form from your website, they are likely in the final stages of their decision-making process.

All too often, this results in low inbound numbers, poor-quality leads, and unhappy sales reps.

With such a large number of B2B buyers opting to conduct product research on their own, it is more critical than ever for sales and marketing teams to connect with buyers earlier in their search to shape the narrative of their product, market, and expertise to sway buyer’s decisions.

But how do we find, connect with, and influence these buyers?

In this eBook, we’ll discuss:

  • How to find your engaged audience
  • How to prioritize them
  • How to build an intent-based marketing campaign to focus your efforts on high-value accounts that are more likely to purchase.

What is intent data?

Intent data is information about your audience that indicates an elevated interest in your product or service (i.e., increased intent to purchase). To build a modern account-based marketing (ABM) campaign, the most reliable and easily accessible source of intent data is your website. However, because intent data can be found in a wide variety of places both on and off your website, it’s essential to find an ABM platform that captures intent signals from various sources, such as:

  • Website visits and pageviews
  • Gated content downloads
  • Online searches
  • Industry-specific content consumption
  • Inbound form fills
  • Review site engagement
  • Webinar attendance
  • Social media posts
  • Message board participation

Integrating intent data into your ABM strategy will allow you to better understand your engaged audience, give you insight into what content, topics, products, etc., they are interested in, and what messages will best resonate with them.

“The B2B buying journey is extremely complex, with many decision-makers exhibiting multiple buying behaviors across digital channels. Because most of these actions happen anonymously, B2B marketers often struggle to make sense of these actions. The promise of intent data is to uncover actionable insights from buyer’s anonymous actions to help the marketers identify and engage in-market accounts and decision-makers with the right message and timing.”

Tukan Das, CEO of LeadSift

Building your ABM target list

Building your target account list is the first step in any good ABM campaign – it shapes everything from the copy and design of your messages to the specific channels used to reach your audience. However, because your messaging is highly specific, it is critical you get your messages in front of the right audience.

Here are a few key use cases for intent data in building your ABM target lists:

Prioritize your engaged accounts

As marketers, we often have limited time and resources to work with, so prioritizing which accounts to target is key to achieving the results we want. To that end, prioritizing accounts based on their interest will allow you to identify in-market buyers and reach out to them at the perfect time in their buying journey.

To illustrate this, let’s imagine that your company sells lead generation software.

Company A matches your ideal customer profile (ICP) but has shown no signs of increased digital activity around lead generation software.

Company B, on the other hand, does not match your ICP as well as Company A, but you can see that individuals at this company have visited your website, downloaded some of your gated assets, looked at your profile on review sites, have shown increased searches for lead generation software, and there is an open job posting at this company for three BDRs.

Which one of these companies would you rather target with your marketing outreach?

Probably Company B, right? Even though they have not filled out an inbound form or engaged with a sales rep, it is relatively safe to assume they are in the market for your products. And because of this, spending ad budget to get your message in front of them makes sense and will likely have a much higher ROI than if you had targeted Company A.

Review and revise your ICP

If you’ve run an ABM campaign before, you know how crucial it is to build a well-thought-out ideal customer profile (ICP). You likely already know your target audience’s firmographic profile – company size, industry, revenue range, etc., and have used it to segment and target your audience.

But the fact is, your ICP is just a best guess – how do you know your ICP is accurate? What about the companies that match your ICP but don’t convert? Or those that you may have never thought would find value in your products?

Your ICP alone may not tell the full story. However, by looking at a breakdown of the companies showing buying intent on your website, you’ll be able to see which companies are searching for, engaging, and resonating with your content. This will allow you to sanity-check your ICP against the real companies in the market for your products, which will drastically improve your targeting capabilities and the effectiveness of your messaging.

Discover new market segments

Finding a new market segment for your product is like finding buried treasure (or, more realistically, like finding $20 in your pocket).

An intent-based firmographic analysis of your website traffic will show you the companies that match your ICP, but it will also show you companies outside your ICP showing buying intent for your products.

Maybe your ICP is focused on companies in the Aerospace industry, but you start seeing spikes in website traffic, searches, and social media engagement from Automotive Manufacturing companies. Or historically, you have targeted small to medium-sized organizations, but recently you have seen increased interest from enterprise companies. This is a good indication that these previously unknown market segments are in the market for your products. From here, you can create new ABM campaigns that speak directly to how your technology will solve their pain points.

Building a predictive ABM orchestration machine

This is where the rubber meets the road, and you start to see the real difference intent data can make in your campaigns.

Here are some key strategies you can incorporate into any ABM campaign to reach more high-value target accounts with messages that resonate.

Tailored sales and marketing outreach based on interest

One of the main strategies behind ABM is creating tailored messages specific to your target audience. Intent data allows you to take the next step in this process by giving you visibility into who is actually interested and interacting across multiple marketing channels. Armed with these insights, you can decide how to best nurture your prospects through multistage campaigns with messaging relevant to them. By integrating intent data, you can get a more complete picture of your target account’s actions and a more decipherable buyer’s journey. You can then plan marketing and sales outreach based on the specific intent action.

For example, if you identify a company visiting a specific product page on your website, watching a YouTube video in your industry category, and researching competitors, you can target them with messaging relevant to their stage in the buyer journey and provide additional product-specific resources to help them in their search.

Enhanced display ads

When planning and executing multichannel orchestrations, most marketers begin with account-based advertising. Depending on your campaign goals, you can utilize social or display ads to reach your high-value accounts. However, when it comes to leveraging the power of intent data to implement highly targeted ads at scale, you’ll want to use display ads.

Display ads serve as a way to keep your brand top of mind for an entire buying group. According to Gartner, “Buying teams can average from 14 to 23 people, depending on the size of the spend”. With so many decision-makers who must approve a purchase, it’s important to surround all of them with consistent brand messaging. With an ABM platform, you can layer intent data over your target account list to ensure you’re reaching each contact within an account, and target them with relevant ads at every stage of the funnel.

Dynamic retargeting ads

Regardless of how good your website is, undoubtedly, not all of your website visitors will immediately convert into viable leads. Our research has shown that only around 3% of visitors will fill out a form on their first visit. This leaves a significant portion of your in-market buyers to leave your site and be swayed by competitors.

Retargeting ads are one of the most effective ways to recapture visitors that have visited your website and left without filling out a contact form. However, running a retargeting campaign can quickly become expensive if you’re not careful.

By integrating intent data into your ABM platform, you’ll be able to run dynamic Google retargeting campaigns, which allow you to adjust your ad bids based on the level of interest a user has shown and win more ad placements for high-value accounts. This will ensure you’re only spending your ad budget to only show your ads to interested companies that are more likely to reconvert.

Measuring campaign success

Once you have your ABM campaign running smoothly, unfortunately, there’s no time to sit back and relax. Your customer’s needs, competitors, and even the market itself are constantly changing, and you must adapt to these changes to stay competitive. However, most of us don’t have unlimited budgets to work with, so we must be selective about where we place our marketing dollars.

This is where the final step of intent-based ABM comes into play – measuring your campaign’s success and impact on your target audience.

Here are some key metrics to keep in mind when evaluating the success of your ABM campaigns:

Website traffic analysis

Your website is your best salesperson – it never sleeps, never takes a vacation, and is often the first resource your target audience looks to when searching for more information about your products.

One of the best metrics you can use to tell whether or not your ABM campaign is working is to look at a firmographic breakdown of your website traffic to see any changes in high-value traffic volume to your site.

A good indicator that your ABM campaign is working would be to see an increase in traffic and engagement from companies on your target account list or companies that closely match your ICP.

Content engagement

To build and iterate on an effective campaign, you have to know what specific content your target audience wants to consume.

Maybe they prefer webinars, long-form blog posts, infographics, or charts. Looking at the engagement (views, downloads, etc.) for each type of digital asset across your website will give you valuable insights into what content is resonating the most with your target audience.

Channel effectiveness

From Google to Facebook, online shopping to email, your target accounts are all over the internet.

If you are running a well-orchestrated ABM campaign, you are most likely running display ads, email, social media campaigns, etc., to get your message in front of your audience’s eyes. Much like knowing what content is converting the most buyers, it is equally important to look at each touchpoint to determine which parts of your ABM process are working and which aren’t.

Did more accounts convert after they saw a targeted display ad? After a specific marketing email? Through a social media post?

Insights gathered from intent data will allow you to determine which channels are driving high-value traffic and converting the most. This data will allow you to either move your ad dollars to the channels that are working or determine which ones are underperforming and fix them.

The future of ABM

Account-based marketing is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean it won’t change over time. As B2B buyers change over time, our ABM practices must evolve as well. To stay competitive in the modern B2B buying landscape, we must constantly push ourselves to stand out from the crowd and drive interest in our products.

Integrating intent data throughout the ABM lifecycle will allow you to run more optimized, personalized, and effective campaigns to fill your sales pipeline with high-quality leads and bring your team into the next generation of B2B marketing.