What is Intent Data, and How Can You Include It In Your Campaigns?
Written by James Self
Nov 6 2018
We outline what intent data is, plus how and why to include it within inbound and account-based marketing strategies for strategic advantage.
What is Intent Data?
How do you know if and when a B2B prospect is actively considering, or looking to purchase your product or solution?
For higher ticket items, often only a small fraction of your potential market is in an active buying mode at any one time, so it’s important to be able to pinpoint that purchase intent, and target your engagement appropriately.
Intent data provides a strong link to timely engagement. In short, intent data is information collected about a company’s digital activity, that provides some insight into their purchase intent and online research behaviour. Connecting a range of 3rd party data sources, with data tracked over time to map a buyer journey, intent data enables marketing and sales teams to gain perspective on buying motives, topic searches, challenges, intent velocity and other key account intelligence.
This may not sound new; at some level, intent data has been around for a while, and many larger enterprises have implemented some level of intent data usage into their business. However, technology and strategies are evolving; intent data is becoming more granular, moving from ‘topic’ overviews to ‘keyword’ insights. This in turn, has improved our ability to add additional context, timing and relevance to account-based analysis of intent insight.
For example, we can now identify where an account is in their buyer journey based on the keywords and content they’re researching. This can also help us to uncover sentiment (positive or negative) around a topic - giving a much more comprehensive overview than more traditional profile and behavioural data.
Why is intent data important?
In increasingly competitive landscapes, where businesses seek to improve operational efficiencies and margins, having insight into when good-fit accounts are ‘in-market’ for your product and solutions puts you at a clear competitive advantage.
For larger more complex sales, where intent can be tracked over a period of at least a few months before purchase, intent data allows sales, marketing and account teams to achieve some level of understanding about what target accounts are researching, often before the account has engaged with your content, sales team, and most importantly, your competitors.
Internal intent data, or first-party data, details the insight a company captures on its website, such as through a marketing automation platform. This information can be highly indicative of intent; for example by knowing the content an account is looking at, links clicked or time on page, it’s possible to identify interests, buying stage and more.
External intent data, or third-party data, is data collected by publisher networks, typically via cookies, user registration or at the IP level. This insight shows much wider intent and interest - such as wider content a target account may be reading or downloading, site searches and more.
To enhance campaigns, ideally, third-party partner intent data should be layered with your own internal intent insight; from sales insights to account research. Layering this information helps to develop a clearer, more comprehensive picture of target account business drivers, goals and challenges, which can be combined to deliver a more comprehensive perspective on propensity to buy.
Once you have this clarity on account’s intent and insights, you can then start building out propositions, campaign messaging and execution strategies - targeting the right accounts, with the right message, content and offers, at the right time.
For example, with this insight, campaigns can benefit from:
Lead prioritisation: Sales teams can quickly identify and prioritise active, good-fit leads based on their probability to purchase.
Accurate outreach and nurture: If you can identify that a prospect is at a particular buying stage - or facing a specific point or issue in that buying stage - you can trigger specific actions to engage and nurture with the right message, at the right time.
Precise, tailored, personalised messaging. Across a campaign’s content assets, insight can inform you of your account’s interests and intent, to enable more accurate, personalised messaging around a specific account’s challenges, topic interests and more.
Enhanced ad targeting: Considering intent insight can enable greater ad targeting, with more accurate messaging, to specific target accounts.
With the level of insight that intent data provides, marketing and sales campaigns of all varieties, Account-Based Marketing or otherwise, can be more relevant, timely, and effective; to return greater results.