Intent represents one of the most significant paradigms shifts from the past few decades. So the following question begs to be addressed: Why, oh why, aren’t more B2B companies tapping into this breakthrough capability – one that could be the keys to the castle? Intent signals let us know when it is appropriate to send valuable mid-funnel content to prospects in a given target organization and differentiate ourselves from the competition. Marketers gain a competitive advantage when empowered by intent signals and find it easy to position themselves positively long before competitors are aware or involved. Intent signals help marketers get closer to the thoughts, wants, and needs of their target prospects.
Although it truly boggles the mind, there is an upside to a slow-but-steady intent adoption rate. The lack of action by some B2B marketers represents a potential windfall for others. Although intent is being adopted by more and more B2B companies, there’s an ocean liner full of otherwise savvy marketers that are simply missing the boat on leveraging the information that intent provides.
Before we get into the competitor-crushing pay-off of this blog, let’s review a few intent-related facts. For a start, did you know that intent can fuel every stage of the buyer’s journey? Take a gander at the chart below for a better illustration.
Did you also know that nearly all pre-purchase research is done online? According to Forrester, 68% of today’s B2B buyers prefer doing business online versus with a salesperson, and when they engage with sales, they want that experience to be in a more problem-solving, consultative manner. This is not a shocking reality, but it is sending shock waves through B2B sales forces. In fact, Forrester predicts that 1 million sales reps will be displaced by 2020.
Demand Gen Report’s 2018 Content Preferences Survey revealed that buyers are becoming more discerning and selective in the content they decide to consume. A majority (88%) agree that content producers need to focus less on product specifics and more on the value that can be brought to their business.
- 49% of B2B buyers said they now rely more on content to research and make purchase decisions;
- 64% said they prefer podcasts at the top of the funnel, while 48% said webinars were valuable to them in the mid-stage of their buying journey;
- 66% of B2B buyers strongly agree that companies should make it easier to access their content.
One last tidbit: all this raw data, fueled by intent, is comprised of web searches and content consumptions, which are then analyzed.
How is all this information analyzed, you might ask? Well, it isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a dizzying, comprehensive, and exhaustive process that has the very real potential for delivering staggeringly positive results. By using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing, True Influence provides their customers with better and more targeted outcomes. The process begins with the collecting and aggregating of online research activity from information garnered from millions of websites. True Influence builds its own database – True Influence Data Repository – with billions of behavioral insights (and more than 250 million new signals added daily), associated with over millions of companies and specific individuals. Next, the information is aggregated using a regression analysis to look for surges that register above normal activity levels. True Influence also matches contact records (names, titles, email addresses, phone numbers) and curates the information for accuracy.
In a nutshell, what does all this technology and analytic wizardry really mean for the marketer? When curated and assessed properly, this information gives marketers insight into the intent of a prospect. In other words, intent signals are a valuable method of identifying prospect interest in a solution early on. If someone is spending a lot of time researching the prices of widgets, the information would suggest that the organization is interested in getting some new widgets. If a widgets marketer or their colleagues in sales know this, they can move to get in front of the organization before their competitors do.
“By looking at the data that prospects throw off as they research problems and new ideas, B2B marketers can tap into this data bounty to reveal hidden information about buyers’ interests, business relationships, and backgrounds even before they visit their websites or provide any identifying information.”
Definition of Intent:
It’s interesting to note that although all this data has existed for some time, up until now it has been nearly impossible for marketers to use it directly.
Now that intent signals have been productized with a marketer-friendly user interface and a built-in mechanism for identifying surges in interest (the proprietary True Influence Relevance Engine), B2B marketers finally have access to the power of intent. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen; Elvis has left the building.
Intent Signals typically support three different types of sales and marketing use cases:
• Early Warning Indicator of Buyer Intent
In other words, which accounts are actively in-market and researching your solution.
• Pursing Current and Potential Customers
Acquire prospects (by any means possible); Develop and Retain existing customers (bring out the big guns of cross-sell and upsell opportunities).
• Account Prioritization
Priority goes to companies that are in acive interest and purchase mode. (Note to self: Duh!)
How B2B Marketers Use Intent Signals:
In a June 2019 survey conducted by True Influence, responders were asked to provide information about their current use of intent in their marketing and sales efforts. Provided below is an overview of their responses:
The average increase in pipeline traffic: About 26% of the survey responders indicated that they achieved an average of 26% pipeline growth, with 81% being the highest and 0% being the lowest.
Examples of buyer activity: Content downloads (i.e. whitepapers and case studies), product reviews, website visits, events, webinars, and technical or industry publications.
Top 10 Competition-Crushers That Use Intent Signals
1. Tap Into Intent Signals When Developing Content
Personalized and relevant content that meets your prospects’ intent will perform to a much greater extent, especially if you introduce topics that will solidify your position as an industry expert and engage your current prospect (and, hopefully, future customer).
2. Never Make A Wrong Turn When Applying Data-Driven Marketing Techniques
Creating relevant content for every stage of the buyer’s journey and your sales funnel is among the best ways to acquire targeted traffic. An important guide to follow is that content marketing should ultimately be about one simple thing: solving your customers’ problems.
3. Right Message, Right Time, Right Prospect (Rinse. Repeat.)
As every marketer learned on the first day of marketing school: align your message at the right time with the right message for the right prospect. Intent hits the ball out of the park with all three criterions.
4. Hedge Your Bet
Use intent signals to determine the companies, locations, and individuals that are actively in-market for the solutions you represent. Intent can provide the buying unit as well. Intent helps get you the net-new leads who fit relevant target profiles and drive spending decisions, including the buying group.
5. You May Be On The Lookout For Prospects, But Never Forget Who Brought You To The Dance
Intent signals aren’t just for the acquisition of new customers. They can also be applied to track the movements and actions of your current accounts, targeted or otherwise. You need to show your current customers a little love, too.
6. Try Not To Think Of It As Digital “Stalking”
An excellent strategy to test is to find prospects based on existing accounts who have a “digital body language” like the one that fits your ideal customer.
7. If At First You Don’t Succeed…
Retarget prospects you may have already approached previously, but who weren’t quite ready to buy. Just don’t overdo it.
8. Just Say No To Intent-less Joe’s
Accounts that are showing surge activity on a particular topic must be given top priority over accounts that may be equally qualified, but are not showing intent
9. “X” Marks the Spot
Use intent to deliver more targeted ads to both known and unknown prospects.
10. Why Fry When You Can Buy?
As presented in this blog, creating a repository of verified and qualified contact records is arduous at best and torturous at worst. If you do not have the manpower, technopower, or automation resources, then don’t burn yourself out: third-party intent signals are available through vendors such as True Influence. However, make sure to ask the right questions when assessing the attributes of the right vendor, such as:
1. What precise information is available for purchase (i.e. name, email and physical address, company name, and buying group)?
2. How is the data collected?
3. Is there a contact verification protocol?
4. Where precisely does the data come from?
5. What marketing or CRM systems can the data integrate with?
6. What technologies are involved in collecting information (i.e. AI, machine learning)?
7. Are there intent or contact guarantees in place?
After reading this blog, we hope you’ve concluded that your marketing strategy should begin with intent, as it makes a tremendous amount of sense. Intent makes achieving bottom line goals not only possible, but probable, as well as providing a distinct competitive advantage. As a bonus, intent signals can be utilized for a variety of purposes, from strengthened demand generation initiatives to content development to anticipating buyer intent. Intent can help establish you and your company as an industry leader while differentiating and elevating your brand from the pack.
For more information on intent signals, please visit www.trueinfluence.com or call 1-888-301-4758.