Big data drives marketing strategies in every industry. But with big data flooding in every day, marketers are still learning how to make sense of it all and use it in the cleanest and most productive ways.
The data you work with should help you refine your targeting strategies and develop actionable insights for your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Ideally, it connects you with customers who are ready to purchase your solution. Enter intent data.
Intent data provides high-quality information about buyers and accounts already in the buyer’s journey. Sales Hacker* magazine calls intent data one of the “hottest topics in the B2B sales and marketing space.”
Intent data: what is it?
Your potential buyers are out there right now searching for the products and services you provide.
They’re consuming content and speaking with competitive representatives. Intent Data captures the information of target customers who are already inching their way through the buyer’s journey. Exactly what information intent data provides you depends on the source.
“Intent data at its core helps predict the likelihood of an organization being in-market for a specific solution at a given time.”Tukan Das, VP of Product Management at Foundry
Businesses can track B2B buying intent across multiple different sources both online and offline. Software vendors rely on three sources of intent.
First-party intent is information you collect about your audience from your digital properties (website, blog, etc.) that indicates an elevated interest (or intent) to purchase. This data includes: pages visited, email interactions, content downloads, and form fills.
Second-party intent data is when a company sells their first-party data. They collect information on their users and then package it for other companies to buy. G2 is an example of a second-party intent data provider. This data includes: contact name, company, job title, email, and phone number.
Third-party data is intelligence mined from up to millions of sources, websites, publisher networks, public forums, SEC filings, data co-ops, Ad networks, social networks, etc. The data collected isn’t specific. Usually, this data includes only the knowledge that someone at a company has engaged with specific content, it’s up to you to guess who.
Foundry’s third-party intent
At Foundry, we take a fundamentally different approach to identifying intent signals. We crawl and mine the public web to provide you with detailed contact level signals. Our team will tell you a contact’s name, company, job title, email, Linkedin profile URL, phone number, and what tools they/their company uses. On top of that, you also know what signals and keywords they engaged with. These insights enable you to market and sell to them efficiently, and personalize your outreach.
We know B2B buying behavior is extremely complex so we cross-reference intelligence from multiple sources to capture buying intent. It goes way beyond just content consumption on the Internet, some of the strongest intent signals are actually latent or indirect. If we notice a company hires a new Director of Culture, that might be a signal of intent for an employee engagement company. Or if we learn from an SEC filing or podcast recording that a company is going to double down on IT security and compliance for next year, that could be a good lead for a cyber security company. On the whole, intent data is here to take the guesswork out of prospecting.
Getting the most out of your intent data
Treating intent data leads the same as every other lead is a mistake. Ask yourself how you can use these insights to supplement what you’re already doing to make your strategies more effective.
Leverage intent data for a competitive advantage. You don’t have to wait for potential buyers to visit your site and give up their contact information before generating a lead. With intent insights, you can craft email and ad campaigns based on what you know your target audience cares about and engages with at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
With information about companies and the contacts within companies who are already actively searching for solutions, engaging with relevant content, and moving through the buyer’s journey across the entire web, marketers don’t have to guess what messaging will resonate.
Intent data provides a whole picture of buyers including what they care about, the languages they speak, how they prefer to receive information, and what prompts them to act or buy. Then you reach out at the perfect time with the content and solutions they’re seeking.
Intent data revolutionizes marketing strategies like inbound marketing because you’re moving from a place of reactivity to joining your target customers when and where they are on the buyer journey.
Actionable marketing strategies:
- Custom ad audiences: Use contact-level intent data for more targeted and efficient ad campaigns by creating custom audiences and target leads already in the buyer’s journey. On average, a person needs 7 impressions to make a buying decision. Intent data shows you prospects who have already had a few impressions. You can then step in when the lead is warmer and have a higher chance of getting in the door.
- Content strategy: Use intent data to see what keywords, topics and channels your ICP is actively engaging with so you can tailor your content marketing
- Marketing nurturing: Segment and customize marketing nurture by intent signal and keyword for more meaningful and personal marketing touches. By the time a prospect reads your message, they’ll feel like you’re speaking directly to them – which you are.
Use intent data to supplement lead scoring models, prioritize sales leads, and improve personalization. Your current scoring models rely on user behavior on your own website, third-party data will arm sales representatives with a more accurate score of prospects. Then, they target leads early in the buyer journey and personalize the prospect’s experience based on their behavioral intent.
Actionable sales strategies:
- Personalized pitches: Use intent signals to create personalized outreach based on the terms, competitors, events, and content that a prospect is engaging with. This helps boost conversions because your outreach is tailored to what the prospect cares about and isn’t just a generic sales email.
- Prioritized leads: Focus on the warmest, most relevant leads. Leads sourced through intent tend to move through the pipeline faster. Since these leads typically fit your ICP and are showing interest in purchasing, you know they should be reached out to first. Most intent data providers also offer lead-scoring models based on levels of intent.
- Segmentation: Match prospect’s intent information with the right sales rep to ensure they have the best chance of conversion. Knowing what they’re looking for as well as their individual interests allow you to match them with the most qualified sales representatives.
Creating a positive customer experience is critical to your future growth. Use intent data to help customers address pain points and get the most out of your product. This ensures their loyalty, reduces churn risk and identifies customers that would welcome an upsell or cross-sell.
“Finding intent-driven undiscovered leads. The data was strong. In more than one scenario we found current clients who were researching potential competitors. This allowed us to connect with them in a timely manner from a customer relationship-building perspective. Which opened doors for upselling.“Customer quote on G2
Actionable customer success strategies:
- Reduce churn risk: Identify when current customers are engaging with competitors. Intent data provides an early warning system to alert you to existing clients that are looking at other options so you can step in and formulate a strategy to keep them.
- Identify upsell opportunities: Intent data gives you a window into which offerings or expanded versions of your solutions that customers are engaging with. When you can make customers happy by identifying their needs and providing services they can use to succeed.
“Happy customers are also willing to add services or upgrade their existing package.”Noted in survey by McKinsey
How to get started
Define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Who do you want to sell to? Once you define that, then you can use intel data to determine what leads are relevant to your ICP.
Audit your internal scoring criteria to determine which criteria trigger specific actions. Your marketing and sales teams should agree on lead definitions and the prospect journey. Marketing usually focuses on website engagement, social media interactions, content engagement, and similar behaviors. Meanwhile, Sales focuses on company size, industry classification and other demographics. By aligning your departments and teams, prospects are less likely to slip through the cracks.
The following lead criteria are widely used:
- Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): A MQL lead has been identified as more likely to become a customer based on their engagement with your content, including visiting your website or downloading resources. They’ve expressed interest, but they aren’t ready to buy yet.
- Sales Accepted Lead (SAL): A SAL is ready to be handed off from marketing to sales. We know this because they have engaged with content in a predefined way as well as fit industry, company size, job title, etc. to be a fit for the sales process. They are ready to move to the next stage in the sales funnel. The sales team will do more research and look at more data.
- Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): A lead that is ready to talk to a sales rep. An SQL has shown purchasing interest in the solution you offer. The goal is to complete the sale
Develop specific content for each stage of the funnel. This could be segmented by persona, industry, geography, company size, or intent signal.
Extract the core topic themes from each stage. Use this information to set up your intent triggers.
Gather actionable insights and craft your campaigns to match, including email, ads, and SDR outreach.
As with any marketing and sales strategy, it’s important to track how well intent data is working. Use the following metrics to continue adapting your strategies.
- An increase in qualified leads
- Higher close rates
- Shorter sales cycle
- Increased revenue per new customer
- Improved pipeline velocity: Number of SQLs X current close rate X average revenue per new customer / total sales cycle days. Increasing your pipeline velocity is one of the secrets of revenue growth.
Intent data in practice
“Intent marketing is the life-changing magic of giving people what they want.”Wordstream
Intent data helps you understand your prospects better so that, suddenly, an account you would have otherwise ignored comes front and center to your attention. Consider these segments of prospects and how Intent Data helps you use your resources and efforts more effectively.
- Company A DOES have the pain points you solve for, and they ARE aware of your solutions A high intent and high account score
- Company B DOES have the pain points you solve for, and they ARE NOT aware of your solutions. A high intent and low account score
- Prospect C DOES NOT have the pain points you solve for, and they ARE aware of your solutions. A low intent and high account score
- Prospect D DOES NOT have the pain points you solve for, and they ARE NOT aware of your solutions. A low intent and low account score
With intent data in the picture, you don’t treat these accounts the same. Prospect D scores low in intent and account, and it’s not likely they need your services right now. Divert resources going towards Prospect D and put them to prospects who are farther along in their journey.
With first-party data, you know that over 90 days, only three people from Company A engaged with your site resources and shared their contact information. You would mark Company A’s representatives as “lower intent” and low priority, and you’d likely move your marketing resources elsewhere.
Second-party data provides a window into Company A’s behavior off your site. Company A is visiting your competitors on a regular basis and probably is in need of your solutions, they just aren’t aware of you. Second-party Intent Data scores this lead with “high intent” and worthy of a sales development representative’s (SDR) attention. In this case, you’d reach out to Company A with the segmented resources you’ve prepared and, hopefully, turn a prospect into a client.
Success happens when you get the right person at the right time when they need a solution like yours. Intent marketing makes that possible.
Get your competitive edge by integrating Intent Data into your current marketing, sales, and customer service strategies. As you do, keep these key points in mind.
- Intent Data leads are not the same as every other lead.
- Intent Data gives you valuable context about buyers you previously had no insight into.
- Develop an efficient process for actioning Intent Data to avoid wasting valuable insights.
- Use Intent Data to supplement what you are already doing to make it more effective.