Customer intent is the fulcrum of every customer-centric marketing approach. Unsurprisingly, B2B intent data has emerged as a precious resource for sales and marketing teams.
According to Gartner, over 70% of B2B marketers use intent data as a part of their strategies. And for good reason. While customer data tells you what an average buyer looks like, customer intent data takes it a step further. It helps you gauge the expected journey of your target accounts and make strides in generating quality leads.
Here’s how to use B2B intent data to track and understand a buyer’s journey and build a qualified pipeline.
What Is B2B Intent Data?
83% of B2B buyers spend time on research before they make a purchase. They read blogs, check out reviews, examine case studies, and watch videos. B2B buyer intent data reflects where these buyers are in their research phase so that you can understand where they are in their buyers’ journey.
Note that B2B intent data is collected before a buyer takes an action, such as making a purchase or reaching out to your sales team. This data helps you prepare yourself because it provides you insights into two key areas:
- How engaged is a particular customer with your product?
- How strong is their purchase intent?
Here is an example. Suppose, a buyer is reading reviews of your product (or similar products) on G2. This indicates that they are either in the final phase of their consideration stage or the decision stage. Your sales team can then send them emails to schedule a demo call to further showcase how your product can meet their needs.
In essence, using intent data, you can achieve:
- Improved targeting
- Better timing
Additional Read: Improve the B2B Buying Experience with Buyer Intent Data
Where Does B2B Buyer Intent Data Come From?
You can collect intent data yourself (first-party intent data), purchase it from external sources (third-party intent data), or use both methods.
First-party B2B intent data
First-party intent data is internal intent data collected via your company’s tools. Some examples of first-party intent data are:
- Lead forms on your website or app, where visitors input names, emails, and contact numbers.
- Actions which are taken across your website: ebook downloads, whitepaper requests, newsletter subscriptions, return visits to product pages, etc.
- People who follow you on social media
- Email communication
- Responses to customer surveys
- PPC ad clicks
- Data that is collected through website analytics tools, CRM tools, and other marketing automation platforms.
Second-party intent data
Second-party intent data is data sourced from another organization’s first-party data. For example, review sites like G2 or TrustRadius collect first-party data that B2B marketers can purchase and use to understand buyers’ intent. Apart from review sites, companies that conduct customer surveys in your industry can also provide second-party data.
Third-party B2B intent data
Third-party data is “external” intent data which is sourced from third parties. This data is collected by data platform providers and data aggregators.
Third-party intent data does not indicate buying signals like first-party intent data. Rather, it consists of information about buying and research activity occurring on other channels across the web. This gives you a broad view of your market, highlights customers’ interests, and helps you identify and target key accounts.
How To Use Intent Data To Build A Qualified Pipeline
Intent data can accelerate in-pipeline opportunity management for account-based B2B marketing strategies. Here are four ways sales teams and marketers can join forces and build a qualified pipeline through intent data.
#1 Prioritize Accounts
The most common dilemma sales teams face is whether or not they should focus on a given account when similar qualified accounts exist within the pipeline. By providing your sales team with intent data, you can help them gauge a sales lead’s inclination to buy and determine whether it is a fruitful opportunity.
#2 Precisely Target Buying Teams
Even though you target accounts, you are still selling to people within the purchase teams of those accounts. So, identifying this team is one of the key objectives for your sales team. And if you have insight into the whole buying team and know what they are researching, you will be able to reach people who are engaged and willing to make a purchase. Doing so will help you avoid wasting time on false positives, i.e., accounts that are engaged with you but show no intention of buying.
#3 Define An Opportunity
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems fail to accurately capture what new opportunities look like. In other words, they provide only limited visibility into your buyer accounts. But, with intent data, you can identify active parties within a buyer group.
If a particular buyer group shows that multiple people have recently researched topics relevant to you, it is a viable opportunity for you. Thus, intent data helps sales teams define opportunities, identify them early on, and start pursuing them. Additionally, when your sales reps understand your buyers’ needs, activities, and interests, they can manage their time better and communicate more effectively.
#4 Beat Your Competition
B2B intent data analytics include information about your prospects’ interests in your competitors. Thus, your sales team can personalise their conversations and counter competitor threats early on.
For example, if you see buying groups actively researching a specific competitor’s offering or a niche that a competitor is trying to target, you can infer that these buying groups are considering these factors and shortlisting your competitor. Now, you can strike when the iron is hot. Your sales team members can get ready to present comparison materials, and late-stage information, and position your product accordingly.
#5 Re-engage Stalled Accounts
Stalled accounts don’t always need to stay on the back burner. Monitoring stalled accounts using third-party B2B intent data can unveil hidden insights and direct your attention to account activity that may otherwise be hidden.
If a stalled account shows high interest in your product, you can re-engage them with better offers and more precise targeting, depending on the stage where they fell off your pipeline.
Which Type of Intent Data Should You Use?
While third-party data is excellent for analysis and prediction, it does not accurately indicate purchase intent. On the other hand, first-party data shows strong buying signals but lacks the volume and scope offered by third-party data. Meanwhile, second-party intent data shows strong buying signals about accounts that are in the middle or towards the bottom of the funnel but does not reveal top-of-funnel activity.
Thus, it is best to use a combination of first-party, second-party and third-party data. Ultimately, the full potential of intent data is unlocked when you fit all the pieces of the puzzle together and offer a highly targeted and personalized customer experience.