October 5, 2022

How is Intent Data Collected? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Written by Karli Stone

Where does buying intent data come from? How do data companies find and collect it? Is B2B intent data a true indicator of purchase intent?

These are all common questions in the intent data space. After all, intent data is a relatively new and emerging product category and many companies are still trying to understand how it fits into their lead generation strategy.

So, before even thinking about investing your dollar in a new data provider, you should feel comfortable in your understanding of intent data and feel assured that these intent indicators are being collected accurately and ethically.

In this blog, we’ll give you the basics of buying intent data and uncover the mystery of exactly how data providers find buyer signals and convert them into tidy bits of information that propel your sales forward.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is buying intent data?
  • How is intent data collected?
  • Buying intent data collection FAQs

A recap: what is buying intent data?

Let’s say, for example, that you sell gym memberships…

A big part of your job is hunting for prospects who are looking to get fit and join a new community. You could start by cold calling every prospect on your target list, but joining a gym (and nearly every other purchasing decision) is all about timing. What if you were able to identify the contacts who are eager to join a gym right now? You’d save time, waste fewer resources, and close even more deals.

By leveraging intent data, you can.

Intent data (often called buyer intent data or purchasing intent data) is a collection of behavioral signs – specifically web content consumption – that help sellers determine a prospect’s purchase intent. It is a set of signals that reveals which leads or accounts are actively researching on first and/or third-party sites.

When people have a problem, all they need is a device and some wifi to find answers and solutions. Looking for a dog walker? Need to find top-rated running shoes? Searching for new software? Google’s got you.

That’s why buying intent is so powerful. Sellers can target buyers that are already searching for solutions like theirs, getting them that much closer to a sale than if they were targeting blindly.

There are two main types of intent data that sellers can use to determine buying intent:

First-party intent data is insights from your own users and prospects. It includes the data collected from your website and platforms (think: form fills, website tracking, chatbots, etc).

Third-party intent data is insights and signals from digital spaces outside of your own gathered by external providers. A third-party intent signal might look like a contact commenting in a web forum on a topic that’s related to your industry or engaging with a video in your product category. These signals help you identify new prospects before they reach your site (or your competitor’s).

How is intent data collected?

The logistics of collecting first-party data are pretty straightforward. But how do these third parties collect these magical intent numbers from all across the web?

Well, intent data is collected in several different ways:

  • Data gathered from website traffic (e.g. users or accounts who have visited relevant websites and therefore have shown intent)
  • Data based on online advertising engagement
  • Data based on content consumption
  • Data that reflects relevant online research across search engines, forums, blogs, social channels, etc.
    Data from software review sites (e.g. pages visited, reviews written)
  • Any of the above layered with valuable contextual information like new job hirings, press mentions, funding rounds, referral sources, etc.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the B2B intent data collection process with these frequently asked questions from sales teams:

Buying intent data collection FAQs

What counts as an ‘intent signal’?

The answer will differ a bit depending on the provider, but an intent signal is always an overt action that communicates buying interest.

Intent data provider, LeadSift (a Foundry company), crawls the web every few hours to find signals like buyers liking or commenting on a social post, interacting within a forum, viewing articles, reading blogs, following new accounts, and more.

“We look for any and all activities,” says Sreejata Chatterjee, LeadSift Co-Founder and Chief of Product, “We’ll then take those intent signals and give you a score, which will show you how hot the accounts are.”

Various “signals” are weighted differently and aggregated up to an account. For example, a buyer who requested a demo from a competitor would have a much higher intent score than a buyer who liked a social post that’s related to your product.

As the signals get hotter, it means that potential customers are reaching the end of their buying journey. This tells sellers they should target them with bottom-of-the-funnel messaging. Buyers showing only one or two intent signals are just starting their journey (if at all) and, in this case, it would be valuable to apply top funnel marketing strategies.

Is buyer activity in related topics still registered as intent?

If you sell revenue intelligence software, you’d want to know if a potential buyer is researching “operations automation” (even if it’s not your exact product topic).

Progressive providers like LeadSift have a whole taxonomy of topics that includes up to 50 related companies and keywords for each intent topic. They also allow users to create custom triggers, keywords, job titles, etc. that they would like to be notified on. This gives sellers expansive, personalized insights across dozens of topics that are heavily related to their product and industry.

And, again, the strength of these signals are typically scored differently. Direct engagement with a competitor or a new round of funding would be scored higher than a simple keyword engagement, for example.

What is the accuracy of intent data?

Intent data providers (or, rather, good intent data providers) use zero guesswork.

Every intent signal you receive is something that did happen. Someone posts something, they pick it up and alert you.

Now the effectiveness of that intent signal is ultimately determined by you – the data receiver. To get the results you want, it’s important to have a solid strategy for using intent data that focuses on contextualizing it and putting it into action.

You can check out this blog for more information on ways to use B2B intent data.

After it’s been collected, does it go stale?

Like all data, buying intent insights decay over time.

That’s why it’s important to choose a data provider that frequently crawls the web for the most current info and regularly enriches existing data.

Is all of this GDPR compliant?

Speaking of choosing the right data provider, it’s also important for data regulation purposes. Collecting intent data as a practice is absolutely within general data protection regulations (GDPR), but like with everything, there are companies with poor practices.

Make sure you ask the right questions when choosing an intent data provider to ensure that your company is teaming up with only the best.

In Closing

96% of Americans shop online at least once each year, and of those 314 million people, 89% of them do extensive research before making a purchase. Using intent data to put your product directly in front of prospects early in their buyer journey is not only important, it’s necessary.

By teaming up with an intent data provider, you can receive all the buyer intelligence and key insights you need to sell confidently and convert at scale.

Karli Stone headshot Karli Stone