What Is Intent Data and How Has It Transformed B2B Sales?

When it comes to B2B prospecting, speed is the name of the game. Once a decision-maker has discovered a need that requires a solution, the exec will do everything in his power to solve it as swiftly as possible.

Most B2B prospects go through a fairly quick buyer's journey. However, they do take their time to analyze the information they need to make the right decision, for they are aware of the incoming transformative consequences of a closed deal.

Knowing where prospects are in the buyer's journey, what content they are using as a backbone for their decision-making, and when they are considering your business can all be determined with the help of intent data.

An estimated 62% of the interviewed B2B marketers agree that intent data improves their nurturing and personalization workflows. Despite this, only 25% of B2B organizations are actively using buyer intent data to improve their targeting, meaning that those who integrate this data methodology early on will have an upper hand against their competitors.

Let's touch on the meaning of intent data, its most notorious applications and traits, and how it has transformed B2B sales for good.

What Is Intent Data?

Intent data is the collected behavioral information about digital users' web content consumption. It can be used to identify their most relevant interests and, if processed correctly, could lead to impactful insights that B2B marketing teams can integrate into their remarketing campaigns, inbound content, and follow-up strategies.

Decision-makers (like every other human with Internet access) leave a data footprint while performing an online query. Obviously, not all research will be related to solving a specific need inside their organization, but the type of content they click on, and the time spent on each, reveal some hints about their intent.

When buyer intent data tools are active, it is possible to track the consumption spikes of topic-driven content, which indicates a particular digital user is showing a level of interest in the type of product your company offers. 

Some examples of these content consumption interactions are:

  • Webinar attendance
  • Newsletter subscriptions
  • White papers downloads
  • Case studies reviews
  • Product comparisons
  • Message boards

That's when B2B buyer intent data comes in. With the proper settings, tools, and tactics, it has the potential to allow B2B marketers to peek into a prospect's purchase journey and establish their brand as a top choice.

B2B intent data

Benefits of Using B2B Intent Data 

While the most notorious attribute of intent data marketing may be the gaining of juicy insights into which companies are researching for the solutions you provide, there are other related applications of this data-driven methodology.

When mixed with data segmentation processes, which consist of dissecting and scoring account-related data through different criteria, marketing intent data strategies can support new business development teams with actions such as:

1. Boosts prospecting

How to use intent data correctly is intimately correlated to the process of identifying potential buyers in the earliest stages of their journey.

Online tools can activate alarms on the type of content your visitors are consuming the most, providing your sales development representatives (SDRs) the opportunity to target them with tailored approaches on how your product could become the perfect match for their situation.

2. Improves ROI

Return on investment (ROI) is one of the most important performance indicators for any new business development team. The use of marketing intent data strategies allows your search engine marketing (SEM) experts to qualify several attributes out of a lead, like their demographics, firmographics, industry, revenue, and buyer stage.

This means that your retargeting and remarketing efforts can be aimed at the higher tier of your target account list, granting your team a clear passage to prospects eager to close a deal.

3. Finds new markets

Targeting the audiences that are a familiar fit for your solution is always a safe bet, but intent data also helps you discover additional lead sources that could have been flying under your radar.

You should be vigilant of the spikes of unexplored industries. Chances are that new environments open an opportunity window for your product to become handy in ways you didn't imagine. Once these fresh markets are detected, be sure to create appropriate content for the newcomers.

4. Enables ABM campaigns

Account-based marketing (ABM) is the way to go with B2B prospects. Thanks to sophisticated intent data integrations, it is possible to map your prospect's journey and provide them with the content pieces that hold the answers to their questions.

Nurturing your leads with the proper articles, videos, webinars, white papers, and other relevant material that also feel tailored for their eyes will help your SDRs to pin out the purchase-ready profiles.

5. Cultivates your SEO

Present-day search engine optimization (SEO) is all about online authority. While backlinking and other programming tactics are still relevant to rank a web page, Google is openly prizing the sources of meaningful content that aim to solve the users' queries. 

Thanks to intent marketing data, you'll be able to fully understand the topics, formats, and styles of content your prospects hunger for. Use these hints as inspiration and propel your inbound marketing campaigns.

Intent data considerations

B2B Intent Data Considerations

Is all data considered intent data? The quick answer is “no.” Marketers (especially those working for B2B brands) should be very wary of the effects of data exhaust, also understood as the massive amounts of unprocessed data flowing daily toward your digital channels.

To prevent confusion, be sure your marketing experts are capable of identifying the following intent marketing data characteristics:

Recency

This first trait refers to the correct recognition of how recently a prospect profile engaged with the content on your website.

If your team took more than a week to contact the lead that requested a follow-up action, it is almost certain that they already went with one of your competitors. So be ready to strike first, strike fast.

Frequency

Frequency means the ability to filtrate and point out what user is constantly visiting your website for a limited time.

If you can detect that a user is going over your case studies, white papers, and pricing page, there is a good chance that they are considering your proposal for their buying journey. This is a great time to reach out and confirm the user's intent.

Engagement

This is probably the most evident indicator. It relies on the level of interest displayed by a particular user toward a certain section or content piece inside your website.

Engagement reactions can go from passive, like subscribing to your email nurturing campaign, to very active, such as a back-and-forward interaction with a chatbot inside your web page. It all comes down to what applications you have on-site and how able you are to trigger a solid follow-up strategy.

Consider all these indicators to be certain that you are working with B2B intent data. While it might be a bit tricky to identify all the traits at first glance, once a data-based culture is grown into your organization, they will be very easy to find.

Types of intent data

What Are the Types of Intent Data? 

Intent data marketing relies on activity indicators like HEM, cookies, device IDs, and many more to track online visitors' movements inside and outside your website. For this reason, intent data can be divided into the following categories:

First-party intent data

Internal intent data is also known as first-party intent data, and it refers to all the data collected directly from your website. Depending on what data-processing integrations you decide to work with, your team will be able to collect gated content, IP addresses, submitted forms, and other first-handed information from your visitors.

Once visitors enter your website, you should be able to monitor the time they spent on-site, what sections were clicked, what topics or articles were seen, and analyze their behavior to identify their interest level, buyer stage, and more.

The most basic levels of first-party data research can be reached through analytics tools, marketing automation platforms, or backend coding of your website, and while the quality of first-party data is unbeatable, it is also limited.

Only a fraction of B2B prospects that are actively searching for a solution will reach your site (even with active sales and marketing efforts), and about 15% of them will be ready to actively engage in a buying decision.

Also, a big share of wandering visitors prefers to do their research anonymously, meaning that your intent data marketing reps will have a hard time identifying the business or individual with an IP identification of previously submitted forms.

For these reasons, it is highly recommended to pair first-party and third-party data into your lead generation strategies.

Third-party intent data

On the other hand, external intent data or third-party intent data involves information that is collected across the web. It provides a wider view into an account's interest across the web and can highlight a particular intent over particular topics and sites relevant to your product. 

In most cases, B2B prospects that are looking for a solution to their needs will go over several websites, blogs, webinars, case studies, and product reviews before even thinking about requesting a proposal.

A key action regarding this type of data is that it offers the opportunity to collect information from your competitors' websites, allowing your company to outsmart them by offering a more sensitive, personalized, and engaging experience.

Then again, if your marketing strategies are solely focused on third-party data, it is very likely that the users that are actively looking for a solution inside your website will not be treated with the attention and care they need.

When first- and third-party data insights are merged, they can provide a complete picture of what a prospect account craves, as well as their business drivers, ambitions, issues, and, most importantly, their likelihood to buy from you.

B2B intent data

How to Collect B2B Buyer Intent Data

Now that the types of B2B intent data have been narrowed down, it's time to go deeper into the best ways to obtain each.

While there are numerous options for raw data collection, like peeking at customer information pools or buying suspicious target account lists, you must keep in mind that this is very sensitive information, and not every prospect will appreciate a cold call out of the blue.

For this reason, the following data collection strategies will help you gather all the information you need in a safe and trustworthy matter for both your prospect and your organization:

First-party intent data collection

You are the ruler and your website is your kingdom. Everything the light touches is your property, but the grounds are so vast that you'll need to make a list to classify all your goods. That's pretty much how internal B2B intent data collection works.

Through the right analytic tools living on your website, you'll be able to track all the activities performed by a visitor. This so-called activeness could be divided into two groups: unconscious and conscious.

The first group includes all the data footprint left behind without the awareness of the users. Sure, they might have accepted your cookies, but they won't be thinking too hard about how many clicks they made inside your website. 

Examples of the unconscious actions performed by your possible clients may include:

  • Amount and type of the most consumed content
  • Number of times it was consumed
  • Amount of time they spent on your page
  • What sections they visit the most
  • What their scroll speed was, etc.

This type of data can be gathered through tracking pixel technology. Some pixels will even be able to identify anonymous traffic and create live profiles of your online visitors, so be sure to work with the one that best suits your needs.

Conscious internal intent data collection can be simpler, but you'll still need to craft luring CTA buttons, forms, surveys, questionnaires, and other integrations that will leave your visitor hooked and waiting for your email, call, or next content entry.

The success of conscious first-party data highly depends on UX and UI features, an organic website design, mobile-friendly optimization, site speed, and other assets that will make your user feel comfortable while exploring your landing page.

Third-party intent data collection

The harvesting of third-party intent data works quite differently because you don't owe the information you are pursuing. It almost compares to a stealthy operation in which you adventure yourself into unknown grounds, trying to snatch a precious treasure from the claws of a sleeping dragon. Thankfully, you don't have to travel alone.

There are numerous third-party partners and platforms that will be more than happy to fetch you the data you are looking for without breaking a sweat. There is nothing shady in this process (of course) because the dragon is fully aware that this data treasure is not his property, so everyone bold enough can come and claim its share.

These external marketing intent data providers are experts in researching the activity happening through thousands of data sources that include websites, social media profiles, media publishers, digital panels, browsing events, and other fountains of information.

They are also able to provide powerful insights on the most relevant industries, company characteristics, key stakeholders, decision-makers, and other persons of interest whose data would help your business development reps to create high-end target account lists.

B2B intent data

Top-Notch Intent Data Providers

The list of buyer intent data platforms, providers, or even partners goes wide and far. The best way to decide which components would be more fitting for your company depends on what you want to do with the gathered knowledge.

Here are some interesting choices for both first and third-party intent data providers that you may want to consider for your next campaign:

CIENCE GO Data

CIENCE GO Data is a sales intelligence platform that offers over 300 million lead records from all industries to its users. CIENCE real-world validates the quality, freshness, and accuracy of the segments in databases while providing hand-picked insights for third-party data integration processes.

Key features:

  • Introduces CRM data analytics pattern-matching
  • Assembles ICP targeting research and insights 
  • Submits daily entries of new contacts
  • Validates records, email accounts, and active phone numbers daily
  • Connects account, persona, tech, social, and partner level knowledge

CIENCE GO Show

CIENCE GO Show is perfect for first-party intent data gathering. It uses tracking pixel technology to generate a detailed profile of all your website visitors. Through our visual ID system, you'll be able to identify the anonymous traffic happening live on your landing pages and enhance your existing ideal customer profiles (ICPs).

Key features:

  • Shows employee size, revenue, industry sector, and more attributes
  • Filters the results through a customized criteria system
  • Provides anonymous traffic detection
  • Creates instant integrations into your revenue team pipelines
  • Applies proprietary real-time lookups

Bombora

Bombora's data platform aligns marketing and sales teams, enabling them to base their actions on the knowledge of which businesses are actively researching what products and the intensity of that research.

Key features:

  • Integrates with the market's leading B2B software
  • Implements industry-standard consent mechanisms
  • Provides a holistic view of the buyer's intent
  • Measures the target account reach
  • Creates custom segments based on marketing intent data

Zoominfo

Zoominfo maps your ICP against its database to uncover sales-ready prospects searching for topics and keywords related to your business.

Key features:

  • Identifies other team members related to the visitors
  • Helps the building of data-rich workflows
  • Detects signals that reveal ready-to-buy companies
  • Supports contact tracking
  • Analyzes the interactions across communication channels

Demandbase

Demandbase is an account intelligence platform that integrates third-party marketing intent data into advertising processes, account-based experiences, and sales intelligence analytics.

Key features:

  • Deciphers data context and minimizes irrelevant activity
  • Delivers rich keyword sets for content
  • Shows historical intent, rending intent, and keyword quality
  • Extracts intent from the web page content
  • Removes problematic keywords automatically

Leverage Intent Data to Drive More Sales

Understanding, processing, and applying predictive data strategies are quickly becoming a top priority for B2B data-driven companies that wish to remain competitive. Its many applications in the sales and marketing workflow have been proven to be a game-changer for business development efforts.

With the uprising of account-based marketing methodologies, high-end prospects are more aware than ever of how their data footprint works, meaning that they expect to be reached solely by the sales reps that possess real evidence that supports why their product might become the perfect solution they have been looking for.

Buyer intent data is not only the green light that tells sales development representatives when to hit the gas, but it also helps them understand how fast they should go, delivers insights on how to take each curve, and provides meaningful assistance throughout the whole race. So turn the intent data engine on and drive your company at the speed it was always meant to go.

 

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