Intent data

December 9, 2021

Making the Most Out of B2B Intent Data

Written by Karli Stone

Your prospects have a problem and you have the solution.

But the buyer journey is evolving. 

In fact, studies show that sellers are finding less and less opportunity to influence customer decisions. When B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers.

During the rest of their buying journey, they are performing online searches, reading reviews and other relevant documents, and comparing the different options that will address their pain points. 

Now, what if you could get a bird’s eye view into their thought process? It would change your sales and marketing game, right?

This is the goal of intent data. 

Intent data can help you leverage customer insights to your company’s advantage. With a better understanding of customer needs and armed with this level of data intelligence, you will not only establish more of a competitive edge but also build a stronger sales pipeline.

Read on to learn more about intent data and how you can use it to cue you into your potential buyers’ most subtle purchase signals.

What is Intent Data?

When you search for something online, visit a webpage, or read a blog post, you are communicating a level of interest in those particular topics. For example, it’s safe to assume that people reading this blog post have an interest in “intent data”. If you, as the reader, were to visit even more web pages about intent data, it would be reasonable to infer that you are highly interested in the topic.

Intent data is built on this idea.

Intent data is information collected about a web user’s behavior – specifically web content consumption. It is a set of signals that reveals which leads or accounts are actively researching on first and/or third-party sites.

When buyers have a problem, they do research to find a solution. They do it before you even know what their needs are. After all, your ideal customers may not even be visiting your website to address their pain points. They are likely researching anonymously.

When you have access to intent data, you’re put ahead of this process.

Intent data gives businesses access to consumers’ behavioral signs, which they can then use as a predictive tool to determine prospective buyers’ next steps.

Let’s take a closer look at the two most common types of intent data:

First Party Intent Data

This type of intent data is what you most often imagine when you think about tracking buyer behavior: data from your own website and social platforms. You likely already track first party intent data through analytics tools, sales engagement platforms, or your website’s backend.

First party intent data can be valuable for identifying purchase intent and it can help your salespeople reach out to proactively address concerns and pain points. However, the issue with first party intent data is that it can be rather one-dimensional. It only provides a small insight into the B2B buyer’s purchase journey.

Third Party Intent Data

This is where third party intent data can help.

Third party intent data observes buyer research beyond your site. It gives you insights from digital touchpoints outside of your organization, such as competitors’ websites, content platforms, social media, Google searches, etc.

When used effectively, third party intent data can open up a whole world of buyer information. It offers the scale and personalized information that helps marketers access new prospects and encourage them into your pipeline at the right time!

Collecting Intent Data

Once you understand the types of intent data, it becomes easier to understand the ways you can collect it.

Collecting First Party Intent Data

More likely than not, you already have the practices in place for collecting first party intent data.

Anything from forms filled out from prospective buyers on your website to tracking website activity to taking notes on customer interactions is first party intent data gathering.

Collecting this type of intent data is cost-effective, easily accessible, and highly valuable. When you collect first party intent data consider combining buyer intent algorithms with your company records. This way you can utilize the data you already own to capitalize on your predictive analysis.

Collecting Third Party Intent Data

Now, for the trickier part.

When your prospects visit other websites, you have no visibility into their activity. When it comes to gathering third party data, different companies can have different approaches, most of which requires purchasing it directly from data providers:

  • Independent websites: Independent websites or portals gather customer data and pass it on to paying third parties. For example, G2 is an independent online B2B review site and is one of the many intent data providers out there. They track the type of products that their users are researching on their website and third party data vendors can pay G2 for access to that information to have access to this intent data.
  • Publisher Co-Ops: Publisher co-ops are a collection of publisher and website data. Participants pool their data together so they can all benefit from a larger, more holistic data set.

    For example, Bombora is an intent data co-op. They collect reliable firmographic intent data through a variety of publishers and partners. Publisher co-ops like these utilize natural language processing to interpret content and user intentions and scan billions of monthly content consumers.
  • Bidstream: Bidstream data is data collected by ad pixels on public sites. With this method, the intent data provider puts an ad on a public site hosting content, and scrapes the keywords on that site in addition to visitor information (excluding user’s personally identifiable information (PII)) to create a picture of who is visiting the site and what their motivations are. Although bidstream data straddles a bit of an ethical line (with growing concerns over its GDPR compliance), it is a clear way that intent data is collected.

We’ve established the value of third party intent data, but it’s important to remember that there is risk in gathering it poorly. Establish good and ethical operational practices when you collect intent data! Tracking user behavior without consent can result in heavy fines and your organization could potentially be paying the price for years to come.

Using B2B Intent Data

Intent data’s biggest pull is how it allows sales reps to anticipate buyer needs and contact them earlier on in the buying process, before any of your competitors.

So how do you use your B2B intent data to capitalize on its strengths?

Let’s look at some ways together!

Identify In-Market Accounts

Capital is constantly wasted on bad-fit accounts. Forrester Research has found that less than 1% of B2B leads ever become paying customers!

Intent data should be used to identify exactly who is interested in your product or service in any given market.

Monitor web-use activity to pick out the spikes in topic searches. Take into account the amount and types of content consumed, the number of consumers, on-page time, and scroll speed. Many of these underlying factors will point you to the in-market accounts that you should target.

Building Effective ABM Campaigns

By helping B2B marketers understand their potential customers, intent data makes it possible to identify best-fit accounts and tailor effective messaging towards them.

That’s why intent data pairs so well with an account based marketing (ABM) business strategy.

Intent data gives you a deep dive into your potential customer. What is their interest in your product? How will they use it? When are they actively considering? When are they willing and ready to purchase? All of this information can be used to build your best ABM campaign, fully equipped with relevant advertisements and marketable content.

Optimize Your Website

What you learn about your audience from intent data can also be used to adjust your website.

For example, maybe your most frequent visitors are on your site reading over your small selection of case studies. This tells you your site could benefit from adding more real-world examples about your product or service. After all, it’s what your prospects are interested in!

From here, you could create more pages dedicated solely to case studies, work with the design team to make your digital case studies more cohesive and interesting, or even conduct more case study interviews to add to the site!

When optimizing your website with intent insight, make sure you are placing your marketing efforts on your visitors who have the highest intent. It will result in higher conversion rates.

Buyer Intent Data Tools

Clearly, there is a lot of work you need to do to efficiently work with intent data. Doing it manually just isn’t going to cut it.

With the right data tool, you can get the most out of your intent data with much less time and effort. 

Prioritize intent data tools that:

  • Deliver thorough context into target accounts so that sales reps can proactively prospect and market to potential decision-makers. Look for tools with an expansive and reliable database that can give you verified contact information in the blink of an eye!
  • Seamlessly sync with your CRM and other existing data tools
  • Support steady sales automation. Tools like Apollo allow you to add prospects into automated sales sequences that can be personalized to fit your intent data insights!
  • Help you measure, learn, and improve your intent data implementation with analytics features. With Apollo you have hundreds of customizable metrics, dimensions, pre-built reports, and dashboards that allow you to answer every question you can imagine about your sales and marketing team!

Lucky for you, Apollo is a data tool that fits the bill. Get started for free today and let us support you in gathering and maximizing all that intent data!

Get started with Apollo

Karli Stone headshot Karli Stone

Karli Stone is copy writer and content creator living in Los Angeles, CA and a proud University of Washington grad. When she’s not wordsmith-ing, you can find her biking along Santa Monica Beach, following the Seattle Seahawks, or catching a flick at her local cinema.