Want to Know What’s on Your Buyer’s Mind? Find Out with Intent Data.

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz around intent data.

Data has always been a valuable tool for marketers. But, over the past few years, intent data specifically has gained popularity in the B2B world. Gartner claims that, by the end of 2022, over 70% of B2B marketers will be using third-party intent data to target buyers. Why?

When used correctly, intent data allows you to zero in on your most rewarding leads and provide a more precise and frictionless buyer experience. It’s a surefire way to accelerate growth. Not a deal you want to miss out on.

So, how exactly can you make intent data work for you?

To find out, I sat down with Kate Athmer, VP of Growth at Bombora — the leading provider in B2B intent data. Today, I’m here to share with you her tips on how you can use intent data to up your marketing game.

What Is Intent Data?

For the sales and marketing folks reading this, you’re probably familiar with intent data as a signal that someone is interested in buying your product. And, on a basic level, that definition is accurate. But there’s more to it than that.

Intent data comes in two different flavors: first-party and third-party.

First-party intent data deals with data you collect directly from touchpoints your company has with leads and customers. It can be anything from what people are doing when they come to your website, to data collected on a call or through ad engagements. Through repeated interactions, your teams can gauge buyer intent and determine the best way to move forward with the buyer. You’ll mostly see growth and product marketing teams leveraging this kind of data.

Third-party intent data focuses on what’s happening across the internet. Kate likes to describe this as “lead scoring the internet.” In other words, third-party intent data gathers information about your buyer when they’re not on your website. Are they searching for specific topics? Or reading specific content? This involves analyzing your buyer’s behavior on other websites to see if they might be interested in your product.

What Can You Do with Intent Data?

In short, intent data gives you a sneak peek into your buyer’s mind. It helps you figure out what your buyer wants and how you can deliver it.

So, let’s say you’ve got your intent data. Now what?

Sorting through all that information can be overwhelming at first. Here are the four use cases that Kate suggests to everyone who’s getting started with intent data:

1. Narrow Down Your Target Account List

At the end of the day, the big question for marketers is: “Will this help me drive revenue?” It’s important, especially for companies with limited resources, to start off by using intent data to support sales.

Sales teams are often strapped with a long list of accounts and only a few sales development reps (SDRs) to work them. With intent data, your SDRs can hone in on those accounts with a strong interest in your product. This is also a good way to pilot intent data. Try it out with a few SDRs and, once you’ve booked that first big meeting, you’ll have no trouble getting everyone else on board.

2. Target Buyers with Your Ads

What if you don’t work directly with your SDR team or you’re just a marketing agency?

If you’re looking to do marketing really well, you can use intent data to target potential buyers in your display and social media ads. Intent data separates the people who are ready to buy from those who are just browsing. Using this information, you can prioritize who will see your ads and tailor your messaging to those buyers. This way, you’ll be making the most of your advertising budget.

3. Sell the Right Product to the Right Person

Nowadays, B2B companies aren’t selling a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, a lot of companies sell multiple products that solve for various pain points.

If you belong to one of those companies, intent data can help bring the right product to your buyer’s attention. Start by creating topic buckets around particular products (like keywords, but better!). Doing this allows you to direct a buyer to the product they’re looking for based on their topic of interest.

Topic buckets give you the power to personalize the buying experience — whether that involves messaging and content or providing a quick track to sales. It’s a big step towards making the buying experience faster and more frictionless.

4. Support Your Customer Team

In our 2021 Marketing Leadership Benchmark Report, we found that 42% of marketers now see customer experience as one of their top priorities. While it’s important to hook in new buyers, it’s equally important that you cater to your existing customer base.

Arming your customer team with intent data means giving them visibility into the customer’s concerns. For example, if your customers are researching your competitors, your reps can jump in to address their issues. Intent data also allows your team to upsell products related to customer interests.

Mistakes to Avoid When Using Intent Data

As these four use cases show, intent data is unbelievably useful. But that also means there’s a lot of room for error.

According to Kate, the biggest mistake a marketing team can make is buying intent data and expecting the sales team to automatically be head over heels for it. Just as your marketing team needs to be sold on the impact of intent data, so will your sales team.

By starting small, your sales team will be able to experience the power of intent data firsthand — and that’ll be the best pitch for using more of it.

Once you’ve got your SDRs sold, you can focus on fully implementing intent data. Here, Kate notes that the more you incorporate intent data into your existing sales process, the better. You don’t want to overload any of your SDRs with information or force them into studying a new platform. Your sales team also doesn’t need to understand exactly what the data means. Ideally, the intent data will already be factored into the sales process so that SDRs are automatically surfacing the accounts with the most buyer intent.

Starting out with intent data requires time and effort. Usually, it takes a month or two, but the actual amount of time it will take depends on your sales processes and the tool you decide to use. Keep in mind that your use of intent data will be unique to you — so, it’s important to try things out to see what works best.

The Future of Intent Data in a Cookieless Internet

There you have it: all the ingredients you need to get started with intent data.

But you might be hesitating. After all, most marketers are currently concerned about the transition to a cookieless internet. What does this mean for intent data?

While there’s bound to be a lot of change, the good news is that intent data is not generated using cookies. Plus, B2B companies are used to advertising to specific accounts, using information from sources other than third-party cookies.

Kate’s biggest piece of advice is to look for a sustainable advertising tool. Bombora, for example, provides advertising solutions that people can use in conjunction with their intent data. They’re also working with 4,000 publishers to come up with new identification solutions in the cookieless world.

“We’ve been preparing for [the cookieless internet] for years. When it happens, we’ll be ready.”

Being prepared is the key to adapting in this changing digital space — and intent data may just be the first step you need to succeed.

Final Thought

Intent data doesn’t have to be complicated.

There are people who use intent data throughout every part of their sales and marketing strategy. But they’re able to build upon all that data because they have a dedicated data science team. For growing companies, even that little extra bit of data is enough to have a remarkable effect.

B2B customers now expect a frictionless and personalized buying experience, and marketers need to cater to that. Intent data is an important tool to have if you want to deliver on those expectations while achieving rapid growth. Just be sure to get your data from sustainable sources. Then, you’ll be able to see for yourself how intent data makes your marketing better, your brand stronger, and your selling smarter.

Check out our ebook Embrace a Data Strategy Your Customers Can Trust for more ways to develop a top-tier first-party data strategy.