What Is Intent Monitoring, Anyway?

If you haven’t heard of intent monitoring, you might be rolling your eyes at the thought of adding yet another trendy buzzword to your vocabulary … only to have it fade into obscurity as quickly as it appeared.

 

Not so fast, my friend.

 

In short, intent monitoring is the closest thing to a true game-changer that the B2B marketing world has seen in a long, long time. Read on to find out what it is, why it’s revolutionary, and why you can’t afford to ignore it.

What Is Intent Monitoring, Anyway?

Since the dawn of B2B marketing and sales, teams have struggled to answer the question “How do we find out who’s really interested in our solutions?”

 

Finally, they have an answer that works. Intent monitoring platforms offer insights into what prospective clients are thinking by picking up on the intent signals they create through online activities. When business users research topics related to your products or services on the web — through search, webinar registrations, white paper downloads, etc. — the platform flags the organization as a prospective target. As a result, marketing gets a feed of quality leads whose actions have confirmed a degree of interest in your solutions. And once an organization is on your radar, you can monitor for “spikes” that indicate they might be approaching a buying decision. That’s your sales rep’s cue to swoop in with some outreach and capitalize on the opportunity.

 

If you’re like most B2B marketing and sales professionals, the light bulb is starting to come on as you begin to see the potential for this powerful technology. Let’s dig a little deeper.

How B2B Marketing Data Has Evolved

B2B marketing and sales teams are no stranger to data. For years, organizations have been using firmographics (company size, industry, etc.), demographics (job titles, level in the organization, etc.), plus submitted data like online form responses to determine which businesses to target, when, and for which products.

 

While all that data is relevant, it’s missing one vital component — it offers no clue as to which organizations are actually in market for what your company is selling. Every sales person has had the experience of finding “the” perfect prospect … only to learn that they bought your competitor’s product a year ago and are quite happy with it. (Cue the “dying Pac-Man” sound effect.)

 

When prospects go online to research topics, they leave powerful clues about what’s on their minds. It’s unlikely that a prospect who recently bought your competitor’s product would be doing much research on the product category or the problem it solves. But prospects who are actually in market, either ready to buy or ready to switch, are likely to be doing online searches, attending webinars, downloading resources, etc. — all of which leaves trails for your intent monitoring platform to capture.

Intent Monitoring versus Predictive Analytics

As B2B marketers sought solutions to their challenges, predictive analytics emerged as a promising solution. Predictive applications analyze past performance and apply statistical models to predict the likelihood of future outcomes. While these solutions can offer some valuable insights, they also have their limitations. For one thing, they rely on past data, which may or may not be a valid predictor of what will happen in the future. Predictive analytics also depends on a complex web of statistical models and algorithms, any one of which could become inaccurate or obsolete at any time.

 

Contrasted with predictive analytics, which relies on past data, intent monitoring delivers information on what is happening now, what business users are currently doing online to pursue answers to their problems. Because it’s based on present-day data, intent monitoring also eliminates the need to rely on complex algorithms, so it’s far simpler to implement and integrate with the rest of your marketing stack.

Intent Monitoring in the Real World

Sure, intent monitoring sounds good in theory, but does it actually work in real-world applications? Just ask a couple of our clients. (Spoiler alert: The answer is “yes.”)

 

When Bulldog Marketing shifted to an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, they used intent monitoring data in a pilot project and yielded an open rate of 39% and a clickthrough rate of 22 percent — both far above the industry average — as well as a pipeline worth $6.8 million in revenue.

 

Extreme Networks needed a solution to find more buyers who were in market for the company’s networking solutions, and they decided intent-based telephone-qualified leads. In less than 7 months, sales team set more than 125 appointments — a result that no other provider could match.

How to Evaluate an Intent Data Provider

Since intent monitoring is still a relatively new technology, choosing the right partner can be a confusing task. Matt Senatore, Service Director, Account-Based Marketing at SiriusDecisions, suggests that you evaluate your candidates on four key criteria:

  • Partnership: Ask detailed questions about how the provider will work with you. The right partner will take the time to understand how you will use the data and offer specific guidance to help you achieve your goals.
  • Data: Find out as much as you can about the data the provider will deliver, including source(s), timing, publisher sites they work with, etc. Senatore also advises asking how the the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affects the provider’s  ability to collect, store, and use data.
  • Integration: Ask the provider how their solution will integrate with the rest of your current marketing stack, including your marketing automation, customer relationship management (CRM), data management, and other platforms. Remember, a solution that doesn’t integrate can generate a lot of additional work for your marketing and/or sales team.
  • Pricing: As with many new technologies, pricing for intent monitoring services can vary dramatically from provider to provider. Some base pricing on the number of topics you monitor, others on the number of accounts. Instead of trying to “compare apples and oranges,” Senatore advises setting a budget and asking providers what they will deliver at that price point.

 

For more details on these criteria, check out Senatore’s blog post Four Factors to Consider When Evaluating Intent Data Monitoring Providers.

Top 10 Applications for Intent Monitoring

By now you’re probably starting to see intent monitoring as a solution that can benefit your organization on multiple levels. Here’s a quick list of the top 10 ways B2B marketing teams are using intent data to drive ROI:

 

  1. Outsourced Lead Generation: Import ready-to-work leads generated by an intent monitoring platform.
  2. Prospecting: Receive a steady stream of intent-based prospects week after week, month after month.
  3. Account Prioritization: Determine a baseline level of online activity around selected topics and be alerted to “spikes” that indicate a buying decision could be forthcoming.
  4. Topics for Content Marketing: Discover the topics your targets are researching, particularly the long-tail search terms that are so vital to your SEO, content marketing, and lead generation success.
  5. Improved Digital Campaign ROI: Watch for spikes in current prospects’ activity and using this intelligence as the basis for retargeting.
  6. Advanced Nurture Streams: Create a more customized approach to nurturing based on what your data tells you about the target.
  7. Renewals and Competitive Threats: Monitor your own customers’ activity and set up alerts for specific behaviors such as researching your competitors.
  8. Sales Intelligence and Cross-Selling: Monitor current customers’ activity for spikes in product and service categories related to the ones they’re already using.
  9. Market Exploration: Use B2B intent data to discover untapped markets that are ready to be developed.
  10. Competitive Intelligence: Monitor your competitors’ online behaviors to get clues on plans for acquisitions, infrastructure improvement, or category expansions.

 

For more details on the applications for intent monitoring, download a copy of our e-book Quick Start Guide to Intent Monitoring.

The Time Is Now

While intent monitoring is still relatively new, it’s been around long enough to prove its effectiveness as a B2B marketing asset. Organizations that have incorporated B2B intent data in their marketing stack have gained a huge advantage over the competitors who will inevitably follow.

 

If your organization is looking for a solution that takes your marketing effectiveness and sales enablement to the next level, now is the time to add intent monitoring to your sales and marketing strategy.xt

 

“We are seeing tangible sales results from InsightBASE–results that are making a significant improvement to our outbound sales and marketing efforts”

Todd Speicher

Sales & Marketing

Bulldog Solutions

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