When B2B buyers face a problem, they typically do online research to find a solution. Your prospects are actively searching online for solutions to problems that your company solves. The problem is that you don’t know who is searching and when.
So, you engage in “spray and pray” marketing, spreading your messages far and wide, hoping to attract a tiny fraction of people who are currently in-market and looking for a solution.
That’s incredibly wasteful.
Why not focus your marketing on accounts that are actively considering or evaluating a product or service like yours? That’s what intent data makes possible.
Intent signals can help you focus your marketing campaigns to create a bigger pipeline of sales opportunities. By attracting more of the right people, it can help you close more sales and grow your business.
If you haven’t considered investing in intent data, this article will outline why you should. It will also help you avoid several common mistakes in leveraging it.
What is intent data?
Intent data is a type of sales intelligence that shows which leads or accounts are actively researching on third-party websites. It uses behavioral signals to tell which products and services they’re interested in, based on the web content they’re consuming. Examples of buyer intent signals include:
- Multiple visits to a product page of your website within a short amount of time,
- The download of eGuides, white papers or other premium content that are focused on helping them solve a specific problem in their business, or
- Registering for a webinar.
The ability to identify which companies are most likely in the market for a solution today has made intent the fastest growing data category in marketing. By the end of 2022, more than 70% of B2B marketers will utilize third-party intent data to target prospects or engage groups of buyers in selected accounts, according to Gartner.
First-party vs. third-party data
There are two types of intent data you need to be aware of: First-party data is what you’re already collecting (but probably underutilizing): website traffic data and email and social media statistics.
Third-party data is where the biggest opportunity lies. It is purchased from data providers that collect and aggregate online research activity from a data-sharing co-op that includes thousands of B2B websites, media publishers and other sources. It can help you find additional prospects who are already searching for products and services that are similar to those you offer.
If they’re in the early stage of their buying process, they may not yet be aware that they have a problem that needs to be solved. In this case, you can provide them with content that educates them on problems they ought to be aware of and the range of solutions they ought to consider (including yours, of course).
How to get started using intent data
The easiest way to get started using intent data is to make better use of the data you’re already collecting – in other words, first-party data. Start by reviewing your website data. Which web pages and content are getting the greatest number of views? Is there a pattern in the topics that are represented in that data?
If so, run some experiments around your most popular topic. Create several new blog posts on the same theme. Do they perform as well? If so, start to align more of your social media content, PPC and search ads around it. These channels generate a wealth of data that can help you to measure how well your topic-focused campaign is performing. If you’re successful in attracting more prospects to your website using this approach, expand your paid promotion efforts to remarketing, which should generate a greater number of repeat visitors.
Armed with data that indicates which topics resonate with your target audience, you should become more purposeful about new content creation. In addition to the education-focused topics you usually write about, consider creating blog posts, white papers and other content that are focused on the specific customer problems or pain points you’ve identified via your experiments.
Build gated assets, such as premium reports, ebooks and webinars, around your focus topic. Use this tactic to grow your email list.
Expand to third-party data
Popular sources for third-party data include Zoominfo, Bombora and Hotjar. To purchase data from them, you must specify the criteria for the audience data you want to purchase. To avoid data overload, we recommend that you keep your list of criteria tightly focused on the needs of your target audience.
Be sure to do your due diligence when selecting a data provider. ZoomInfo recommends asking these questions:
- Does the data map to leads, accounts or both?
- How broad is the coverage and how granular is the detail?
- Can the provider deliver context? That is, do they provide a breakdown of how the scores are calculated?
- Does this data integrate into your existing marketing system, CRM and scoring model?
- How frequently do you get data updates?
- Can this data be integrated into your existing marketing system, CRM and scoring model?
Also, ask the data providers you’re considering if their policies are compliant with GDPR and other data privacy standards. If they’re not, strongly consider avoiding them.
Before you use any purchased data, we recommend that you corroborate it with your first-party data in your CRM or marketing automation platform. Make sure you tag it when importing it so you can track its source. Keep in mind that because most third-party data is “scraped” from public web pages, its quality can vary widely.
Next: Examples of B2B intent data in action
In part two of this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into the ways you can use third-party intent data to enhance your marketing campaigns. We’ll also share several examples of B2B companies that have used it to be more successful.