It seems incredible that more companies aren’t using intent data to drive their sales and marketing initiatives. The fact that so few ever dig that deep to uncover the best possible leads puts you and your company at a decided advantage.
Today, we would like to take a look at a number of aspects of intent data and what it can do for future sales and marketing strategies. We will be examining all of the following:
- What is intent data? How is intent data sourced?
- How does intent data work?
- Alignment and collaboration between marketing and sales
- Competitive advantages
- Leveraging strategies
What Is Intent Data?
In the simplest of terms, intent data shows when a specific prospect is exhibiting online behaviors that show intent to buy. It expresses in two distinct forms: internal data and external data.
Two common examples of internal intent data are
- Your website’s contact form: The person making contact communicates intent by wanting to know more about the company, its services, etc.
- Local customer data: Data gathered about local customers via CRM or other marketing platforms is very valuable when attempting to understand intent. The data is used by marketing teams to focus attention on leads who are moving closer to making a buying decision.
External intent data is gathered via third-party providers and uses big data to compile information that is more concise. It is collected through shared cookies and is curated at the IP level. This data is the product of millions of visits to specific pages on hundreds of thousands of websites.
This kind of data provides specific, concise information on nearly endless metrics. Here are just a few examples:
- The number of times a specific document, file, or digital asset is downloaded
- The number of times a video is viewed
- How many people clicked through after reading a call to action on a landing page
- Keyword search statistics
How is Intent Data Sourced?
Intent data is compiled by vendors who collect data from B2B websites and content publishers, all of whom are part of a data-sharing co-op. Sure, the idea of knowing what sites a specific person visits, the terms they search for, and the brands with which they engage can seem a bit sinister on its face, but it is anything but. The data is gathered and stored for this purpose, then shared with (or sold to) sales and marketing professionals.
An agency that consultants on Salesforce, for example, would take particular interest in companies enter search terms like Salesforce implementation, Salesforce integration, or Salesforce consultant into the major search engines and who also visit sites that sell these kinds of services with trackable intent to buy.
Data is compiled and reported weekly in the vast majority of cases. Through the aggregation of literally billions of searches, site visits, downloads, click-throughs, conversions, and engagements, vendors can profile content consumption and identify surges.
This video from Bombora explains the process well:
How Does Intent Data Work?
Millions of people around the world use the Internet to search on millions of topics and deliberately engage with specific online content. You decide which details are most important and begin monitoring the specific engagements that match the designated criteria. The marketer provides all contextual intel including, but not limited to:
- Job titles of ideal prospects
- Company size and location
- Names and URLs of existing customer accounts
- Names and URLs of targeted accounts
- Names and URLs of direct competitors
- URLs for industry influencers and events
- Social handles of industry influencers and thought leaders
- Simple and complex search terms that relate to products, services, problems/pain points, and possible/desired outcomes
All of the above is built into algorithms that observe and make a note of relevant actions (those that indicate unique engagements among the millions of searches and engagements that happen every day). The compiled data lists full contact details including first & last names, phone numbers, email addresses, company names, prospect’s titles, locations, industry, and company size. It also shows contextual data that identify actions they have taken.
Examples of observed actions include general searches, competitor site engagements, industry influencer engagement, and inquiries related to major industry events. The data also breaks down actions by types and triggers. In other words, it shows not just what a prospect or customer did, but why he or she did it.
It is even possible to flag data that identifies current customers, target accounts, and repeat incidences of demonstrated intent. All of this amounts to having a list of real people taking real action to learn more about the kinds of products and services you also sell.
Intent Data As an Alignment and Collaboration Tool
Marketing and sales have always had a sort of love-hate relationship. Sales teams want more qualified leads who are ready to buy. Marketing teams want to spot early leads, engage them, and nurture them until they reach that point of readiness.
All of these things boost results and intent data benefits both sales and marketing significantly. It provides a common collaboration tool that connects sales and marketing, fostering collaboration, interpreting the data, and planning effective strategies for all types of contacts. Here are some common examples of how intent data is used collaboratively:
- Discovery of more active sales leads
- Reduction of churn and boosting customer loyalty
- Successful interaction with target accounts
- Early insertion for brand recognition and establishment of value
- Tracking relevant trends
Each of the above areas are of interest to both marketing and sales. Success in all of them moves the company forward and allows for productive, meaningful collaboration between teams.
Intent Data: The Competitive Advantage
Utilizing intent data has a number of advantages. One of the most important is its ability to help sales and marketing personnel target a number of buyers across an entire organization. One company can, and often does, consist of more than just one target market or persona under one roof. What matters to one executive or leader could be – and often is – different from another.
Intent data helps marketers customize content for each individual involved in the buying process. With hundreds of organizations using similar criteria in web searches, intent data helps steer the creation of highly targeted content upon which to build solid and successful marketing campaigns.
Effectively Leveraging Intent Data
Having a more direct connection between a buyer’s intent and original content gives marketers and sales professionals a huge competitive edge. In order to maximize the collection and quality of intent data is necessary that the gathered data correlate with a variety of demographic, geographic, and firmographic data. Without those correlations, it is difficult (read: close to impossible) to fully understand which specific behaviors match specific customer profiles.
When an understanding of the intent of a specific buyer persona has been established, both sales and marketing are in better positions to create relevant, useful content that carries the lead through each step of the buyer’s journey.
One of the easiest ways to leverage intent data effectively is to develop blog content, web articles, and other forms of written content that demonstrate a clear understanding of your target market. The content should address problems and pain points coupled with the particular discovered through gathered intent data. Doing all of this positions your brand as an authority and communicates an ability to deliver intelligent, trustworthy, credible content.
It is also highly advisable to distribute original content in a way that expands reach. This includes developing a publishing and syndication strategy around all targeted content. In short, develop and publish content that mirrors prospect intent and make sure it finds its way in front of its intended audience.
A lead generation plan that effectively utilizes and leverages intent data provides a decided advantage to any sales or marketing initiative. It sets your brand apart from even major competitors and increases the odds of eventually being recognized as an industry leader.
Build a direct, seamless content marketing strategy that mirrors the intent signals put out by prospects during all manner of online activity (searches, site visits, interactions with competitors, etc.). This will not just help generate better leads, but it will also have a positive impact on your bottom line. Integrating intent data will help make future marketing campaigns more successful, allowing your sales team to focus more attention on the accounts that are most likely to buy.
Disclosure: Martech Zone is owned by Douglas Karr, who is a partner in Highbridge, the Salesforce consulting firm referenced in this article.