What to Look for in Intent Data that Drives Results

COVID-19 is pushing companies to embrace digitization at an accelerated rate, and marketing and sales — the two key B2B revenue drivers — have been part of the transition. The pressure to 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. There is a difference in the data.

What are the benefits of good intent data?

Intent data is a collection of behavioral signals from buyers. 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.

B2B sellers use intent data to interpret and react to purchase interests. With the help of data, you 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 audiences

Topic Data and Context Data

Topic data covers the searcher’s interest in particular subjects, like “network security” or “online payroll tools”. But topic data alone doesn’t constitute a full buyer picture. B2B sellers also want to know the context around the person taking an action, such as do they belong to a buying group? What’s their role? Information like this often holds the key to winning an account.

Other 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.

These pieces of knowledge become part of a more complete intent picture when you tie topic data to buyer context. (A marketing cloud is one way to ingest, then view data and set it in motion.)

Unless you have the right context for where a buyer is on their purchase journey (if they are there at all), you will likely waste resources on prospects who send 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 this question arises.

Know the difference: Good intent data drives results

To leverage the full potential of the intent data you invest in, get answers to these five questions.

1. What types of intent signals are captured?

When your B2B audience researches and actively engages online, there’s a good chance they’re exploring across multiple marketing channels. 

Intent signals come from 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

If an intent provider just tracks a few types of signals, their 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. 

One of the first things to ask a data provider then is “What types of intent signals are you tracking?” The more intent signals tracked, the better picture you have of buyers’ true interests and roles.

2. What are the intent data sources?

How does your intent data provider source their data? This is another key question.

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.
Best practice is to find intent data providers pulling from a broad spectrum of B2B media and websites. Research their partnerships with intent data provider companies, data marketplaces, firmographic data vendors and third-party sources. (True Influence recently announced a partnership with the Snowflake Data Marketplace to make intent data more widely available.)

3. How fresh is the intent data?

Data has a shelf life. If you think you have accurate contact data, but it’s actually several months old, there’s little value for your organization. While the provider may have abundant information about that prospect, if the data isn’t fresh, the buyer may have already moved on to your competitor by the time you reach out.

The key is to look for data that is as close to real-time as possible. When you investigate intent data providers, ask how often they refresh their database. The fresher the data, the better your chances of using it to reach your targets at the right time.

4. 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. Another way to ensure better lead quality 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%.)

Answers to these questions will give you important feedback about the quality of data you can expect from a provider — and decide if they’re the right fit for you.

5. Will the intent data solution integrate with your martech stack?

What’s the point of having the “perfect” intent data sourcing solution if it can’t integrate with your CRM or marketing automation platform? Unless and until your marketing and sales teams can take action on intent data swiftly, you won’t get the desired results. For success, it’s important to have good processes in place. Data handoffs and normalization should be easy, not constant challenges and roadblocks. 

Before you talk to intent data vendors, have internal discussions with your sales and marketing teams. Find out who will need access to the data and for what purposes. Based on that, talk to the vendor and share your needs. Keep in mind the whole revenue generation ecosystem, which could include:

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

If your intent data vendor provides data in line with the five parameters mentioned above, great results are possible. 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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