What to Look for in Intent Data that Drives Results

COVID-19 is pushing companies to embrace digitization, and marketing and sales — the two key B2B revenue drivers — have been undergoing a transition. The pressure to innovate and think out of the box to generate revenue is real, and intent data can be your secret weapon. This blog explains what to look for in intent data that drives results.

What are the benefits of intent data?

Intent data is a collection of behavioral signals from buyers that can be used to interpret and react to purchase intent. Currently, typical sources of intent data include email engagement, social media interactions, online chats, content downloads and product trials.

When you google something or visit a website, you’re expressing interest in a particular topic. Since you’re reading this article, it suggests you’re interested in the topic of “intent data on some level.

With the help of intent data, B2B sellers can:

  1. Prioritize inbound leads based on engagement
  2. Nurture leads with personalized campaigns
  3. Identify potential customers you may have overlooked
  4. Map out relevant online experiences for your audience

Topic Data and Context Data

The kind of data that tells the customer’s interest in a particular topic is called topic data. You can leverage these capabilities more fully when you tie topic data to the buyer’s context for a full intent picture.

But topic data alone doesn’t constitute a full intent picture. B2B sellers also want to know more context around the person taking an action, such as do they belong to a buying group?

Context data could be insights about a person taking action on your website. For example, as a reader of this blog on intent data, professional insights about you might be that you’re a marketing professional or an industry analyst. Your profession throws more light on why you’re reading this blog. It builds on the story.

Maybe you’re in the process of evaluating a product that uses intent data, or you’re writing a report, or you’re just a curious soul in search of knowledge. Context data varies from general information like the name of the prospect’s company and official role, to granular insights like expertise, level of thought leadership selected, and how close they are to your ideal buyer.

Unless you have the right context for where a buyer is on the purchase journey (if they are there at all), you may waste resources on prospects who are sending you the right behavioral signals, but lack the intent  to buy from you. You can’t sell your product to someone who’s on your website just for casual research.

Now the question becomes…

What to look for in intent data that actually drives results?

To leverage the full potential of intent data, you’ll want answers to these five questions.

  1. What intent signals are captured?

When your audience researches online, there’s a good chance they’re exploring across multiple channels. If an intent provider just tracks a few types of signals, that data won’t give the complete picture. So, it’s of utmost importance to monitor various channels to increase the probability of identifying in-market accounts interested in your product or service. 

The very first thing to ask is “What types of intent signals are they tracking?” Intent signals a broad range of online activities that include:

  • Search engine queries
  • White paper and ebook downloads
  • Website and blog visits
  • Webinar registrations
  • Social media engagement
  • Digital ad and banner ad click-throughs

The more intent signals you track, the better picture you have of that buyer.

  1. What are the intent data sources?

How does your intent data provider source their data?

Intent data providers differ when it comes to the scope and quality of their data sources. Some content publishers monitor intent signals from their own websites, while other providers may track data from a limited set of websites.

The key is to find intent data providers pulling data from a broad spectrum of B2B media and websites. Research the partnerships they have with intent data provider companies, firmographic data vendors, and third-party sources. 

  1. How fresh is the intent data?

Data has a shelf life. If you think you have quality data, but it’s six months old, it has little value for your organization. By the time you reach out to the target, they will have already decided to buy from one of your competitors.

The key is to look for data that is as close to real-time fresh as possible. When you investigate intent data providers, ask them when was the last time they refreshed their database? The fresher the data, the better your chances of leveraging it and reaching your target at the right time.

  1. How’s the quality of the intent-based leads?

Quality is similar to freshness, but it has a lot to do with accuracy, too. Most sales professionals have experienced the frustration of contacting a lead only to find out they no longer work with the company, or the B2B lead isn’t a business lead at all, but an industry analyst doing research for a report.

That’s why it’s important to ask data providers about lead “quality.” Probe in detail how they verify the quality of their contacts. (For example, True Influence uses TripleCheck verification.) Ask specific questions about how they filter out non-business email addresses. One other way to ensure a better quality of leads is to ask for a guarantee. If they send you a poor quality lead, will they replace it? (True Influence just happens to guarantee our data 100%. No questions asked.)

Answers to these questions provide you with some idea about the quality of data you can expect from a provider — and decide if they’re the right fit for you.

  1. Will the intent data solution integrate with your MarTech stack?

What’s the point of having the “perfect” intent data solution if it can’t integrate with your CRM or marketing automation platform? Unless and until your marketing and sales teams take action on intent data swiftly, you won’t get the desired results. For that to happen, it’s important to have good processes in place. 

Before you talk to intent data vendors, have an internal discussion with your sales and marketing teams. Find out who will access the data and for what purpose. Based on that, talk to the vendor and share your needs. Keep in mind the whole marketing ecosystem that includes:

  • Marketing automation
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Data management
  • Demand-side platform (DSP)
  • Display advertising
  • Retargeting

If your intent data vendor provides data in line with the five parameters mentioned above, great results are possible. You will find intent data that drives results. Let that sink in, then head over to this blog: “How Intent Data Activates the Marketing Cloud” for ideas to take the next step in intent-based marketing. 

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