Choosing an Intent Data Provider: 6 Questions to Ask Before You Buy
While intent monitoring is still a relatively new field, more B2B organizations are coming around to its unique benefits. In SiriusDecisions’ 2017 State of Account-Based Marketing Study, 33 percent of respondents said they plan to invest more in B2B intent data over the next 12 months. If your organization is looking to add intent data monitoring, you may have already begun the challenging — and often confusing — task of selecting an intent data provider.
As intent monitoring has gained momentum among B2B organizations, more data provider companies are coming onto the scene. For the would-be intent marketer, that’s good news and bad news. The good news is that you have a wide array of options to choose from. However, the growing popularity of intent data marketing has attracted some “wanna be’s” to market with offerings that only slightly resemble real intent monitoring.
As with any B2B marketing decision, education is the key to making the right decision. Once you’ve determined exactly what your organization’s needs are and put together a list of data providers, it’s a matter of asking the right questions. Here are six must-ask queries that will help you select the right intent data provider for your organization.
1. What types of intent signals do you track?
This might seem like a basic question, but you might be surprised at how loosely some providers define “B2B intent data,” while some others may track only one or two types of signals.
Remember, when your targets research a topic online, chances are they’re exploring multiple channels. The more types of activity you monitor, the more likely you are to identify accounts that are actively interested in your product or service.
So when you ask intent data providers “What types of intent signals do you track?” what you’re looking for is an offering that pulls in signals from a broad range of online activities, including:
- Search engine queries
- White paper and ebook downloads
- Website and blog visits
- Webinar registrations
- Social media engagement
- Digital ad and banner ad clickthroughs
2. Where does your buyer intent data come from?
Intent data providers can vary widely in the scope and quality of their data sources. Some content publishers, for example, monitor intent signals only from their own websites, while some providers may draw from a limited population of publishers and websites.
Look for intent data providers that pull data from a large pool of quality B2B media and publisher websites. Also ask about their partnerships — intent data provider companies, firmographic data vendors, and other third-party sources — and do your own research to make sure those providers reputable.
3. How “fresh” is your intent data?
Even if the data you receive comes from quality sources, it will be of limited value to your organization if it’s six months old. By the time the alert reaches your screen, the target could have already made the decision to buy from one of your competitors.
When you ask intent data providers about the timing for refreshing their database and delivering insights to you, you’re looking for data that’s as close to real-time as possible. The fresher the data, the greater your chances of capitalizing on the target’s active interest and getting in front of them at exactly the right time.
4. How do you verify the quality of your intent-based leads?
Just about every sales rep has experienced the frustration of having a lead pop up on his or her radar, only to find out that the person is no longer with the company. Or that the organization isn’t even close to being in your target market. Or that the “B2B lead” isn’t actually a business lead at all, but a student doing research for a paper.
Once you have your list of data providers, ask each one how they verify the quality of the leads you’ll receive. For example, you might ask specifically if they filter out non-business email addresses (such as those ending in gmail.com or yahoo.com). Or you might ask if they have a guarantee — if they send you an out-of-target lead, will they replace it? The answers to these questions will tell you a lot about the quality of the leads you can expect from the provider.
5. How will your solution integrate with my martech stack?
Once buyer intent data or intent-based lead starts flowing into your organization, it’s vital to get that information into the hands of those who can take action on it as quickly as possible.
Some B2B marketing teams have had the experience of finding and implementing the “perfect” intent data solution, only to find out that it doesn’t integrate with their CRM or marketing automation platforms. As a result, their team has to take time out of their busy day to do manual file uploads, delaying the process of sending the data where it needs to go.
Before you begin speaking with B2B intent data vendors, determine who on your sales and marketing teams needs to access the data, for what purpose, and then ask each vendor candidate how they can accommodate your needs. Remember to consider all the systems that will need access to your buyer intent data and/or leads, including:
- Marketing automation
- Customer relationship management
- Data management
- Demand-side platform (DSP)
- Display advertising
6. How is your pricing structured?
As intent monitoring is still a relatively new field, vendors still differ — sometimes dramatically — in their approaches to pricing. Some base pricing on the number of topics you want to monitor, others charge by the number of accounts you monitor, and still others offer a monthly or quarterly subscription with a yearly commitment.
Because vendors can take such widely varied approaches to pricing, it can be challenging to compare them. A good practice to follow is to determine at the outset what your budget will be, then ask each provider what they can deliver at that price point.
A final note on pricing: higher price does not always mean higher quality. Do your homework on each vendor you’re considering, check references and third-party reviews, and make sure that every dollar you spend is delivering the quality intent data and/or leads that your organization needs to succeed.
Intent monitoring is one of the most exciting development to hit the B2B marketing and sales world in decades. Because the market is still evolving, navigating the landscape of intent data providers and understanding the options available can be a challenge. As with most big decisions, knowing the right questions to ask — and the answers to look for — is the first step. By going into the process as an educated consumer, you can set your organization on the road to finding the perfect B2B intent data partner, one that can help you build an intent data program that takes your sales and marketing results to exciting new heights.
If you’re ready to learn even more — and to get some practical advice on adding intent data to your marketing strategy, download a copy of our ebook Quick Start Guide to Intent-Based Marketing, or check out these other intent data articles: