What is intent data and how to use it in your B2B sales and marketing efforts

byKylie Bolton

The number one challenge facing B2B sales and marketing teams is figuring out where in the customer journey a prospect is and what they intend to do next.

You may already be collecting data on potential customers when they fill out forms on your website, but there is also a way to collect data from your potential customers’ engagement online.

This is where intent data comes in and provides your team with consistent behavioral signals that can track your potential or existing customers’ web activity during the buyer’s journey. 

If you are here, you are possibly looking to use intent data to effectively grow your lead pipeline. In this article, I will discuss what intent data is, how you can use it, and where you can collect it. 

 


What is intent data?

The trail of actions that your potential customers leave behind when they research online, read relevant blogs and reviews, and compare vendors is extremely valuable. By tracking buyer intent data, you will be able to see visits made to your website, and in some cases visits made to pages across the web. 

Buyer intent data is made up of two components:

a) topic data: what a potential customer is searching for

b) context data: when, where, and how they search for it.

The more people research, the more information you can obtain such as their current and historical activity, pages and keywords researched, what company they work for and where it is located.

Intent data is the missing puzzle piece in data-driven marketing and sales because the type of intent signals and the strength of these signals indicate a prospect’s readiness. Not only are you gaining a deeper profile of every potential customer’s needs, but also discovering whether they are actively considering your product.

Once you identify target companies, you can monitor them consistently, and prioritise those spiking on relevant topics over equally qualified accounts that do not show intent.


What sources of intent data are there?

There are two sources of intent data, each displaying benefits and limitations.

First-party intent data 

Most marketers are used to first-party intent data because it is information collected directly from your audience or existing customers. You can generate this data when people visit your website or engage with your online content and because it is from direct and deliberate interaction, it is not anonymous. 

This data can be sourced in-house via your CRM system, social platforms, actions or interests demonstrated across your website or apps, subscription data, relationship management systems, website cookies, or email tracking. 

The benefits of using first-party data include:

a) Your team will have full access to this data, meaning full authority over what is collected and how. 

b) it is high quality and accurate and therefore a valuable asset 

c) information that comes directly from your audience is relevant to your business. 

The downside is that it has a limited scope because you cannot tap into prospects that are not on your site, but interested in a similar solution to yours.

Third-party intent data 

As the name suggests, this data is collected from outside sources and then bought by your company. In other words, it is external data and compiled by a company that did not originally collect it and does not have a direct relationship to the audience. Instead, the data is pulled from multiple websites and platforms where it was generated.

Once collected, this data is categorised and segmented based on factors such as behaviours, interests, demographics, industry, and so on. You can then purchase segments of this data on a large scale.

The benefits of using third-party intent data include:

  1. a) Scale: You can monitor a considerable amount of companies, websites, and numerous keywords around the clock. 
  2. b) Analysis: Once target companies have been identified, you can track them over time, reveal spikes in behaviours and prioritise those spiking on relevant topics over equally qualified accounts that do not show intent.

The downside is that you will not be aware of how or for what purposes this data was collected. As a result, the data could be irrelevant to your needs and its quality will be unknown. Lastly, when putting this data to use, you will be marketing to anonymous people.  


Signs of buyer intent

The type of intent data your team needs to observe will depend on your objectives and the source of your data. Here are common signals that most B2B sales and marketing teams consider invaluable.  

  • Tracking indicators via your own internal data:

By collecting data on who visits your social media profile and your website or blog, you can gain insight into who is interested in your brand. 

You also ought to be aware when someone visits your product pages as this could suggest that they have an interest in your solution or product and would like to learn more about your offer. Visits to your landing page are equally important but suggest something different. Whether a lead has been redirected to your landing page by a sales rep or is clicking through pages to gain a deeper understanding of your company, you should be aware of them and delve deeper into their interests. 

Another indicator is when your product is rated on rating platforms. In sales, people give ratings when they are extremely satisfied or unhappy with a product. The latter signals gaps in your offer, while the former indicates that an existing or prospective customer has noticed your product and it made a good impression.

  • Tracking indicators by sourcing intent data off-site:

By sourcing intent data externally, you can learn about your target customers’ searches off your site such as when they use high-intent keywords or click on ads that use terms such as software, consulting, reviews or providers.

Your team will also be notified when someone visits web pages where the content demonstrates an interest in topics of high intent such as products and their features, comparisons, demo requests, reviews, and pricing.

Additional data to track is when someone downloads resources such as case studies and comparative information on vendors, or when high intent events are registered for and attended.

  • Pay attention to frequency, engagement, and recency for both data sources

Becoming more observant of your prospects keyword searches, their cookies and browsing history, and their firmographic, technographic, and demographic information reveals further intent signals such as

a) Frequency: spikes in the amount of relevant content being consumed, time spent on relevant pages, and how often a lead views essential information such as case studies.

b) Recency: how long ago a prospect engaged with relevant content so you can reach out before your prospect reaches a buying decision or disregards your product.

c) Engagement: how a potential customer engages with relevant content and the actions they take online.

After successfully collecting your data, it is time to put it to good use across departments, from sales to marketing teams. Let us delve deeper into why you should be using intent data. 


What are the benefits of intent data for sales?

  • Lead scoring and prioritisation of leads

B2B companies that establish a large number of outbound leads do not always have the time to reach out to everyone. Lead scoring, which is the process of ranking and prioritising accounts, comes in handy in this instance.

This process can be optimised with intent data. For instance, if a lead interacts with your pricing page, this will indicate a greater interest in buying than a lead that is simply viewing your product overview page. Your sales team can reach out to a prospect once they have obtained a particular score.

By incorporating first-party behavioral data into your existing model, your team can rank your prospects in order of intent so you can prioritise your leads. On the other hand, third-party data would give your team additional information about the path your lead takes when they are not on your site

Ultimately, Intent data aligns your sales and marketing team by ensuring your marketing team scores leads meticulously and predicts their purchase intent so sales can then take over and prioritise whom to contact based on their readiness to purchase.

  • Identify buyer interest early in their journey 

Timing is crucial in B2B sales so arriving late to a deal should be avoided at all costs. Then again, spending too much time on deals that you sensed would never result in a purchase is also less than ideal. 

With intent data, you are more likely to a) get in front of your target customers while they are still searching for a product or solution, b) intercept them before they start comparing vendors to demonstrate your company’s authority in the industry, and c) frame their analysis by getting your sales rep in the driver’s seat and steering the conversation.

  • Retain existing customers and upsell them

What is great about intent data is that it is not only geared towards increasing target accounts but retaining existing ones. The challenge with reducing churn is that the customer journey is not linear and even after a purchase has been made, customer challenges still need to be monitored by the customer success department.

Intent data directly monitors signals that would often go unnoticed and deal with questions such as, are your leads’ actions suggesting an interest in upselling and cross-selling? 

By using intent data, your team will be more aware of a) who requires support or additional attention, b) it could reveal gaps in your product offering and reveal more information about customers expectations, and c) when gaps become known, you can steer future product development and increase customer lifetime value. 

  • Improve lead quality and reduce conflict 

Pinpointing and nurturing prospects is one of the most resource-intensive activities in B2B sales and marketing. One of the reasons is that sales and marketing often disagree on their lead’s quality, readiness, maturity, and when to make contact. 

Intent data makes prospecting simpler and decreases the amount of time spent on this process by decreasing the steps involved. By arming your sales team with verified intent-based leads and real contacts that are reachable, your team can rest assured that your prospects are well researched. 

Having an increased awareness of who is viewing what and how your sales and marketing team will be able to engage with leads as early as possible and tailor their messaging.


What are the benefits of intent data for marketing?

  • Design your website to reflect changes in your buyer persona

Your ideal customer profile (ICP) is not a stagnant, unwavering persona. For instance, changes in an industry could result in prospects becoming more or less of a fit for your solution. Fortunately, intent data arms your team with the tools to constantly monitor changes in your target audience and make necessary alterations.

Your website, for instance, is your digital storefront, so why not make consuming your content easier by tailoring particular pages to specifically target frequent visitors that display strong signals of intent. For instance, you could improve access to relevant case studies and insights.

Based on your intent data, you could also make provision for your anonymous web visitors and incentivise them to take a specific action by serving customised content and leading them to your value proposition.

  • Accurate account-based marketing campaigns 

Effective account-based management (ABM) campaigns are built on personalisation. With buyer intent signals you can further narrow down your targeted list so your team can direct its resources strategically to a set of target accounts that show purchase intent.

The benefits include a) being able to segment and target your ideal customers, even if they had not been on your radar initially and b) putting strategic ABM campaigns in place that provide consistently relevant content to leads that are ready to purchase. 

  • Better targeted and relevant content

Having better insight into the companies that are interested in your solution is great but knowing the questions that they need answering while they are still researching is even better. 

Where better to answer these questions than in your landing pages, email newsletters, ad copies, and blog posts?

Your content marketing efforts will be more aligned when you use intent data to understand common challenges and issues people experience when considering your solution. 

An added benefit is that these insights ensure that your content is not based on your expectations, but rather addresses your target customers’ expectations, matches the terminology they are using, and consistently measures how effective your content is. 


How does hubsell offer intent data?

Due to popular demand, hubsell has introduced first-party intent data to monitor the behaviour and intent of contacts our customers reach out to. hubsell is able to do this by placing a code on a customer’s website, which ultimately alerts our team when their links have been opened. For instance, when a contact has opened their email, hubsell will be notified.

This is only the first component of intent data, where somebody clicks on a link, hubsell can analyse their actions and intent. Some things hubsell can learn when our customers’ pages are opened includes, what is monitored, which contact opened the page, from which campaign, whether it was an email or LinkedIn acceptance request, and so on. 

hubsell takes it a few steps further and uses browser cookies to collect information such as how many pages a contact views, which pages they visited, how long they spent on each page, if they came back to the website and how often, as well as when they fill in a form. 

The results are often dramatic and worth the time and money because hubsell uses this intent data to further segment, analyse and even change the course of a campaign. Actions are no longer based on predictions, but on the intent received from contacts. 

A primary benefit of the first-party intent data hubsell offers is the ability to engage your target audience with personalisation at the right points in the customer journey. Whether it be in pre-sales, or during account management where customers may need to reconnect with prospects that have gone quiet after a demo. When you know your users’ usage you can use that knowledge to guide your next propositions with them.


Conclusion

Intent data is extremely valuable on its own, but when paired with other customer data types such as demographic, firmographic, descriptive, and engagement metrics, it provides your team with a holistic scoring model. Instead of trying to guess what is on your prospects’ minds, or looking at past situations to predict the future, intent data can predict which accounts have the highest chances of buying your product. Intent data provides a chance for your sales and marketing teams to really know your target audience, leads, and existing customers. Marketing will have data-based insights to guide their work and your sales team can spend less time chasing dead ends and enjoy a shortened sales cycle.

New readers

For those that are unfamiliar with hubsell, we provide an end-to-end B2B leading solution with on-demand generated B2B data and multi-channel personalised outreach automation software to generate sales qualified leads.

Book your discovery call today to see how you can scale your opportunity generation.



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