The goal of integrated marketing is to align a variety of messaging and communications strategies across multiple channels, all while remaining centered on the customer. So now imagine you know a lot more about the research behavior of that customer. What does that do to your integrated marketing strategy? That’s where intent monitoring comes in.
In-market contacts send clues about their state of readiness, and intent monitoring tracks their research behavior to capture these signals. Since B2B buyers engage with five to seven content pieces on their journey, imagine how valuable it is for a B2B marketer to know what those pieces are, and bring that data into context and action via a platform like a Marketing Cloud. The path to successful integrated marketing suddenly gets clearer with these insights about buyer interests and journey stages.
Eight Ideas to Bring Intent into B2B Integrated Marketing
#1 – Use intent monitoring to prioritize B2B demand generation
Intent tells you what’s going on in your buyer’s head, so your mix of B2B marketing tactics, channels, media, and activities can work together as a unified force targeting the known interests of an in-market buyer. That’s not to say they’re ready to buy this week. That buyer may be just starting, and they may not even be sure what the right terms are yet. Intent monitoring gives you the means to prioritize those contacts for the most appropriate demand generation approach based on where the buyer is now.
#2 – Use intent to drive sensible marketing automation and sales enablement
Intent data as a standalone application might not be enough to trigger the right marketing automation and selling activities for the best demand generation results. For example, you may feel your contact data is already at a high-quality level, and when they hit a certain value, you flip opportunities from Marketing to Sales without delay. That’s a good process in theory, but it has flaws. In some cases, if you’re not applying location-specific contact data and just going by account, you may miss opportunities or create needless churn. When a contact flipped to Sales isn’t even in their territory (that is, no location data), it’s a waste of time on both sides – Sales and Demand Generation.
It’s also wasted energy to send Sales a contact that’s really still at a high level in the funnel. Because these false-start engagements get off wrong from the beginning, disconnects happen, and they rarely get right again. In effect, you have to start all over with that contact, assuming it’s not too late already. In those situations, the problem isn’t with the data, but with an internal process that needs refining, and that’s fixable. An experienced intent provider should be able to help you make those course corrections.
#3 – Intent monitoring pairs well with lookalike modeling
B2B marketers sometimes combine intent with look-alike modeling to identify the accounts in your addressable market most likely to buy. When lookalike modeling still gives a set of accounts too large for lead development teams and sales to address, intent monitoring helps prioritize outbound marketing and sales on subsets of highly likely targets showing high interest in relevant topics.
#4 – Use intent monitoring as an early warning system for at-risk accounts
Even if you’re concentrating on a small set of accounts (as in ABM) all possible buying behaviors must be spotted in time for Sales to react, position, and get ahead of competitors. With intent monitoring, you have a better chance of noticing when target accounts (including current at-risk customers) seem to be entering or accelerating a buying cycle.
#5 – Avoid these mistakes when qualifying B2B contacts by their search topics
Many B2B marketers depend on intent monitoring to help ABM teams detect possible interest by targeted accounts on specific topics. Problems happen when marketers don’t evaluate search topics in the context of the funnel. By forwarding leads interested in any of your topics, regardless of where they fall in the journey, you may send contacts that have already moved on, or are still too early for that level of engagement.
What a buyer looks for at the beginning of a complex buying process is different than what they’ll seek later. What buyers engages with informs you about where they might be in their search, and you can set up the appropriate response. For example, If you ask Sales to engage with contacts who are just at problem exploration, that’s really when Marketing should be in the lead. Top- and mid-funnel contacts typically haven’t figured out a solution. They’re looking for ideas, but not necessarily sales engagement.
Ask your intent provider to coach you through adjustments you might make to optimize processes to support integrated marketing and sales. An experienced intent provider can help you plan and select topics by funnel stages. This partner should work with you to match and set up different audiences to trigger the most appropriate next steps.
#6 – Prioritize in-market accounts for relevant engagement at scale
The pool of all potential prospects for many solutions or services is just too deep to be within reach of most marketers. No one has the budget, nor is it even wise to go after everyone just because they could possibly be a fit. Even B2B marketers in specialized industries must narrow their focus and put efforts towards prospects ready for engagement on some level.
Intent monitoring helps B2B marketers identify the most relevant contacts at scale and use marketing automation platforms (MAP) to reach them. Sometimes marketers use MAP systems and processes to scale demand generation, assuming the intent data stream has the versatility to integrate with MAP. Automated follow-up is a common application of intent monitoring. It can trigger appropriate, timely delivery of digital assets, including display ads.
For a deep dive into developing account relationships, look for ideas in this SiriusDecisions Research Brief: Intent Data Monitoring for Sourcing & Prioritizing Accounts.
#7 – How Intent Helps Overcome the Challenges of First-Party Data
By knowing the content assets, search terms, websites, and other resources prospects will likely use, intent offers a top-down approach to identifying accounts that display interest relevant to your goals. This can complement the first-party data that businesses already own about their prospects, and you can build more effective integrated marketing processes around this holistic view.
The top-down vs. bottom-up approach also reveals the limitations of first-party contact data – that is, the data your business owns. First-party data provides a view that’s confined to what you think you know about buyers’ choices of search terms and resources. SiriusDecisions recommends some steps in the Research Brief to deal with this, including working with intent monitoring providers to identify additional signals that correlate with in-market behavior.
#8 – When new words happen: Understanding the buyer search for innovation
Sometimes it takes time for a vocabulary to build out around breakthroughs and innovation. Current examples would be artificial intelligence, cloud computing or machine learning. As new technologies and trends emerge, spotting the right search terms and using them as demand generation cues can seem next to impossible, because the topic is so fresh. Buyers themselves sometimes aren’t sure what to search for when researching new concepts and paradigms. The terms they use may still be fluid and hard to pinpoint. It’s often difficult to find the most appropriate search terms and content, so buyer signals can be misleading or harder to detect.
To solve this, some intent platforms “triangulate” data to capture the most meaningful signals and put search behavior into the right context. A large topic database to track against also increases the likelihood of capturing the appropriate signals.
See What Intent Can Do for Your Integrated Marketing
If you’re interested in more about intent and integrated marketing, see this blog for our CMO, Kay Kienast: “Integrated Marketing Cloud for Better ROI and CX.”