b2b intent data

April 14, 2022

Uncover Top Customer Insights with B2B Intent Data

Written by Karli Stone

Your prospects have a problem and you have the perfect solution to fix it.

But sadly, bringing on new clients isn’t as easy as telling that to buyers.

The journey your buyers take on the road to purchase is changing rapidly.

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 entire sales and marketing strategy, right?

*Enter Intent Data*

Intent data gives you a clearer view of the buyer journey that you can leverage to your company’s advantage. With a better understanding of customer needs, you will establish a stronger sales pipeline and gain a powerful competitive edge.

This blog will teach you everything you need to know about intent data. We’ll go over how you can use it to cue you in to your potential buyers’ most subtle purchase signals to achieve new heights of sales success!


What is Intent Data?

Whenever you search for something online, visit a webpage, read a blog post, scroll through an Instagram page, or do virtually anything, you are communicating interest.

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 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. These signs can then be used as a tool to determine prospective buyers’ next steps.

Types of intent data and how to collect it

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. It is activity that you pick up from your own audience across your digital properties.

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.

Anything from customer surveys to tracking website activity and taking notes on customer interactions is collecting first party intent data. You likely already have a few tools in place to help you collect it (i.g. analytics tools, sales engagement platforms, your website’s backend)

But it can be rather one-dimensional. Second and third party intent data can help you get a broader picture of your prospective customers…

Second Party Intent Data

Second party data is someone else’s first party data put up for sale.

For example, an auto parts chain could reach out to a car dealership that has a significant overlap in target audience. The car dealership could then arrange to sell its data to the auto parts chain for an agreed upon price.

Second party data could include data from many of the same sources first party data comes from, such as website activity, mobile app usage, social media data, or customer surveys.

Although it has a relatively limited scope, it is a great auxiliary way to expand your market reach because it acts in a very similar way as your own first party data. And, since you’re going directly through a trusted partner, you can rest assured that you still have the competitive advantage of being one of the few organizations with access to this data.

Third Party Intent Data

Third-party data is purchased from an outside broker that did not play a role in collecting the data. It gives you insights from digital touchpoints outside of your organization, such as competitors’ websites, content platforms, social media, Google searches, etc.

Third party intent data opens up a whole world of buyer information! It offers scalable and personalized information that helps marketers access new prospects.

(Bonus: The data is often already distilled into audience segments, eliminating your need to sort and analyze it)

There are different methods to collecting third party intent data, but the most reliable (and most ethical) way to do this is through data providers.

Independent data websites or tools 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.

Using B2B Intent Data

Intent data’s biggest pull is the ability it gives sellers to anticipate buyer needs and contact them earlier on in the buying process, before any 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 continually wasted on bad-fit accounts. Forrester Research has found that less than 1% of B2B leads ever become paying customers!

Intent data can 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 best-fit customers, intent data makes it possible to create optimal messaging.

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

It gives you a deep dive into your target accounts.

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 loaded with relevant advertisements and marketable content.

Optimize Your Website

Intent data can also be used to optimize your web content.

Maybe your most frequent visitors on your site are 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, because that’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 customer stories more cohesive and interesting, or even conduct more interviews to add to the site!

When you optimize your website with data insights make sure you are placing most of your marketing efforts on the visitors who have the most purchasing intent. It will result in higher conversion rates.

A Brief Intent Data Case Study

Intent data is a dense topic. It might be helpful to see a process in action…

Dodge Data & Analytics, a North America construction intelligence company, had enormous success implementing intent data into their marketing campaigns.

Dodge Data’s marketing department had a campaign to generate more demand, but their Performance Marketing Director noticed that they were having trouble breaking into high-value accounts.

So they decided to invest in data.

They gathered first-party intent data by monitoring account engagement and trigger sale plays, for both known and unknown accounts. When engagement spiked, they would alert the account executive to help them reach out at the right time with the right messaging. They completely re-personalized everything from display ads to website messaging and sales scripts.

The results?

Dodge Data was able to re-engage 30-40 visitors per day.

When sales teams reached back out to these accounts, they noticed prospects were warm and receptive. Equipped with first party intent data, marketing and sales teams found much more success communicating with strategic accounts. They were able to quickly identify prospects’ pain points and contact them with the perfect messaging at just the right time.

This is just one example of the thousands of businesses that have upped their game with intent data, and with thoughtful, data-driven implementation, you can too!

Buyer Intent Data Tools

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

Look for data tools that can:

  • 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 and reports. 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 customer insights!

Karli Stone headshot Karli Stone

Karli Stone is a 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.