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In the past, marketers had to rely on a customer’s body language and willingness to interact in order to identify a prospect’s intention. Nowadays, it’s a little bit more complicated than that. Sales processes have become more intricate; we now have more digital channels, more touchpoints, more stakeholders and fewer & fewer personal interactions. Meaning that it has become increasingly difficult to identify a buyer’s actual intentions. Fortunately for us, we live in a time where technology can be used to determine the prospect’s likelihood to buy even without any prior interaction.

How so?

Well, it’s all thanks to intent data.

What is intent data?

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Intent data can be defined as a set of behavioural and contextual signals that show the prospect’s readiness or likelihood to buy.

Data has always been the de-facto backbone of all marketing efforts and strategies; it provides critical insight that can be used in the decision-making process of a business’s growth journey. That’s nothing new. However, during the past few years, intent data has explicitly become a trending topic within the B2B marketing space. According to Gartner, more than 70% of B2B marketers are expected to utilise third-party intent data to target buyers by the end of this year.

The role of intent data for lead generation

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One of the most significant challenges marketing professionals face is figuring out which prospects to prioritise and focus their time, attention, and resources on. Regardless of how effectively they have defined their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), only 15% of those prospects will be ready to buy immediately. This means there’s an exceedingly high miss rate if you’re targeting all of your ICP accounts at once.

This is why intent data is so crucial.

It enables marketers to focus on the most rewarding leads and deliver a more accurate and frictionless buyer experience where marketing aspects can be catered to meet the buyer’s needs and requirements.

The types of intent data

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There are a variety of intent data platforms and services available today that can assist B2B marketers in understanding, accessing, and acting on intent. When combined with your specific campaign emphasis, this data may be utilised to pinpoint which prospects and organisations are most likely to buy from you or at least hear you out.

You’re undoubtedly aware now that when we browse the web, we all leave rather hefty digital footprints that represent our interests, personality, challenges, and, in many cases, desire to purchase a specific product/service or even a significant curiosity in a related subject. Intelligent intent platforms generate prediction layers from billions of behaviour data collected from thousands of places by monitoring and storing such information from the web, ad networks (bidstreams), independent portals,  Publisher Co-Ops and social media channels.

You can also collect intent data from a variety of sources; website cookies, activity trackers, social listening tools, data aggregators, and ABM tools. Based on its source, intent data can be divided into two main categories:

  1. Internal (first-party) intent data: This is all the data that is directly gathered across all your digital properties, such as your website, email and social media platforms. You would already be collecting first-party intent data if you have an email marketing program (i.e. newsletters), email tracking, website cookies, marketing automation or social listening tools. 
  2. External (third-party) intent data: This refers to any information that is collected from interactions on any other websites. Since it’s difficult to rely on internal data alone, many businesses usually outsource data collection from other licensed external providers. 

A majority of marketers state that in order to capitalise on intent or behavioural insights about prospects effectively, B2B marketing teams should be using a combination of both first-party and third-party intent data in their marketing approaches to be as productive as possible.

The benefits and challenges of using intent data for lead generation

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It should come as no surprise that utilising data-driven sales strategies can provide several key benefits to your business. Here are a few of the most common advantages of integrating intent data into your lead generation process:

  1. Increased brand exposure 

Intent data is valuable because it enables your business to open up to an audience that has never been approached before, which means that more people are aware of your brand, thereby growing your lead pool effectively.

2. A hyper-personalised customer journey

Hyper-personalisation is a highly recommended approach by 62% of marketing experts as it provides positive results. Intent data offers insights into what your buyers are actually interested in, which allows you to create personalised and enjoyable customer experiences for them. This, therefore, gives room for much higher conversion rates.

3. Helps with lead prioritisation and nurturing

The information provided by intent data gives businesses an idea of which prospects are likely to convert and which won’t due to the dynamic approach it uses. This means that marketers are able to effectively allocate their efforts and time on the right prospects. In fact, 62% of B2B marketers agree that using intent data improves their nurturing and personalisation workflows substantially

4. Better ad targeting

Assmilaing intent data into your marketing tactics can do so much, especially when it comes to running ad campaigns. By helping you to understand a prospect’s online behaviors and related interests, intent data makes it possible to create hyper-targeted ads that are more likely to resonate with the audience. Statics show that ads served with intent signals alone have 40% greater purchase intent lift and 30% greater consideration lift. 

5. Increase in ROI/sales

A study conducted by Insights For Professionals saw that marketers utilising intent data observed an impressive 99% increase in either their sales growth or ROI after incorporating intent data into their marketing and lead generation strategies.

Along with all these significant benefits, there are certain obstacles and limitations that come with using intent data:

  1. It can be hard to procure the necessary data due to regulatory and technical constraints.
  2. Both first and third-party data have costs involved; it is either the price set by the data supplier or the cost of installation (which may be costly, especially the external data sources).
  3. Data quality (particularly third-party data) may be a common issue as there is no way of checking quality before actually seeing it in action.

Mistakes to avoid

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As you can see, intent data can be extremely beneficial for the growth of businesses, but that does not mean that there is no room for error. 

According to Kate Athmer, VP of Growth at Bombara (a leading contributor of B2B intent data), the worst mistake that a marketing team can make is purchasing intent data and assuming that everyone on the sales team is simply going to love it and be able to use it strategically. She states that if managers want to see success after the incorporation of intent data in their sales strategies, then they should attempt to start small and allow the Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) to become familiar with it first. She also mentions that it’s better to incorporate intent data into a process that the sales team is already using and acquainted with rather than forcing them to study a new platform altogether. 

Ultimately, it’s essential to understand that when it comes to intent data, a lot of time and effort needs to be invested within the sales processes in order to bring out the best results.

Final thoughts

The success of B2B sales and marketing is strongly reliant on data since the dawn of time. However, just using the basic data to reach out to prospects is insufficient to stand out in the modern marketing landscape. Every skilled marketer and sales professional should understand the potential value of B2B Intent data and its ability to aid in the achievement of broad corporate objectives. A great grasp of client demands backed up by data intelligence will not only provide you with a competitive advantage, but it will also assist you in building a strong and consistent funnel for the sales team to take over.

Intent data is perfect for you if you are looking to become more efficient in engaging with your buyers on a deeper level. Relationships developed using intent data have a greater success rate because they are stronger and of higher quality than those developed through manual prospecting.

If you find yourself struggling to generate qualified leads and would like to integrate intent data into your business then feel free to reach out to us. At Team Rocket, we are experienced in using intent data for Outbound Email and LinkedIn outreach that can be used to assist you to reach your growth goals. Interested? Comment down below and we will get in touch 🙂 

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