October 1, 2023

Buyer Intent: Definition, Examples, and Tools (2023)


Suppose you sell pizza ovens to restaurants.

One morning, you send your best sales rep to a restaurant at the other end of the city.

He's all set, armed with the details of your latest pizza oven technology. But when he arrives, he finds that the restaurant already bought a pizza oven from your competitor. He comes back disappointed and frustrated, and you realize you could’ve invested the efforts of your best sales rep on a prospect that’s actually looking to buy a pizza oven. 

Your sales and marketing resources are limited, and you can’t waste them by shooting in the dark.

And that's where buyer intent data comes in.

What is buyer intent?

Buyer intent describes how serious a person is about buying your product, which you determine by studying their behavior.

For you, this translates to how easy it will be to close a sale with that customer, how fast the sales cycle will be.

For example, suppose you run an online store selling shoes. If you start using an intent tracking tool, you could realize that customers who come to your website after googling for “shoe size guide” or “buy shoes online” have a higher intent (and likelihood) to buy than those who search for “how to clean leather shoes.” These are two vastly different buying cycle stages. One group is just now making the buying decision, while the other is already at the post-purchase stage in the buying process. Two different target audiences that’ll need a different type of nudge to make a purchase decision. Determining the touchpoints on a customer journey that turn interest into a buyer is how you’ll end up selling.

There are many variables that go into deciphering buyer intent, some more important than others.

In the last example, we've used just one data point, but there are many variables go into deciphering buyer intent such as how visitors find your website, what journey they took on you site (their behavior), how much time and how many times they’ve been on your site, their location, age, and gender (the demographics), their past engagement with your company… their purchase history, shopping cart activity, customer service interactions, and response to advertisements. Even their behavior on social media and their personality traits, values, and lifestyle choices matter (the psychographics). 

The point is that buyer intent is a great way to segment prospects into those who are likely to buy in the near future and those who aren't ready yet.

Where does intent data come from?

Intent data comes from a wide range of sources, including search engine queries, social media interactions, website activity, and online discussion forums.

Website activity metrics could include the number of clicks someone makes, how long they stay on a page, and where their mouse moves. All of this can be recorded and used to decipher buying intent. For example, if someone spends 20 minutes reading your product page and downloading eBooks, you can be sure they intend to buy.

(Keep in mind that just because someone has a high purchase intent doesn’t mean you have a guaranteed sale. It’s your job to use this intent data and reach out to them at the right time with the right messaging.)

Deciphering buyer intent from isolated data points is nearly impossible.

For example, suppose you’re tracking someone’s website activity and realize they are spending a lot of time reviewing your resource pages. Without other data points it’s nearly impossible to predict their intent. They might be an existing customer seeking support, or they could be a competitor reviewing your work.

Remember, every customer has a unique and convoluted buyer journey that involves different platforms, different devices, and different behavior — all of which can change with time.

What are the types of buyer intent?

Buyer intent can be classified in two ways: data source and customer behavior.

The first classification, source of buyer intent data, classifies buyer intent into:

  • First-party intent data, which comes from activity on your own website, your CRM, and any other data you collected directly. It can be captured with a tool like Google Analytics and is often the most accurate intent data you can analyze.
  • Second-party intent data, which is basically first-party data of another website. For example, the review site TrustRadius collects and analyzes the intent signals of its visitors. It then compiles this into an easy-to-understand format and sells it to other companies. 
  • Third-party intent data, which is collected from a wide range of sources, including cookies, ads, social media mentions, and databases of other companies. Unlike second-party data, third-party data is not limited to just another website. Instead, it’s based on a wide range of buyer intent signals from a wide range of sources, all of which are compiled, analyzed, and sold.

The second classification, based on the customer's behavior, includes:

  • Active buying intent, which is assigned to a prospect who is in-market and actively shopping for a specific product or service.
  • Passive buying intent, which is assigned to a prospect who is unsatisfied with a product or service they're using. However, they're not looking for or aren’t aware of a better alternative, so they’re researching how to solve the business problem.
  • Awareness intent, which is assigned to a prospect who is facing problems with a product they’re using, but it’s not painful enough to justify switching immediately. They’re browsing and learning about potential alternatives on the market.

What are the benefits of using intent data?

There are five main benefits to using buyer intent data. And you'd implement them in this order:

  1. Improve conversion rates

You can do this by displaying intent-based elements on your website.

For example, you can hook high-buying intent visitors with a more sales-oriented chatbot playbook that pops up at the right time and place. On the other hand, those with a low intent can be offered informational content like ebooks and whitepapers.

Of course, you need real-time intent data to implement this properly. Which is why we've developed Lift AI. It monitors and analyzes current behavior of your website visitors and helps you engage with those who behave similarly to your past buyers.

  1. Improve personalization

The most perfect example of this is any B2B sales effort. For example, if you know a prospect is looking for a scheduling tool that focuses on personalized booking pages, you can open your sales message highlighting only that specific feature, and not talk about pain points that the prospect doesn't care about.

  1. Create targeted ads based on buyer intent

If visitors that displayed high buying intent don't engage with your message and leave your website - no worries! You can use the intent data to create specific ads and retarget them on other platforms.

  1. Guide content strategy

Intent data helps identify which keywords attract readers with high buying intent. With it, you can refocus your efforts on targeting high-intent keywords and creating the type of content that attracts qualified leads with the highest chance of converting. Relevant content can turn any content marketing effort into a sale.

  1. Build better landing pages

You can use intent data to create landing pages that focus on the exact information and qualities your audience is looking for. Doing this will help you spend more time explaining the features and benefits your audience cares about, leading to higher conversion rates.

  1. Reduce customer churn

Understanding customer intent through intent data can help you identify the right message, offer and timing to engage with customers. By leveraging the power of marketing automation, you can easily segment your customers into different groups and create customized marketing campaigns for each of them.

Where to get buyer intent data?

There are 4 main ways to get buyer intent data.

  • Website tracking tools — such as Lift AI — which track and analyze how users spend time on your website. The most basic version of this is Google Analytics.
  • Heatmap tools — such as Hotjar and Crazy Egg — which highlight the most popular spots on your landing page.
  • AI chatbots — such as Drift and HubSpot Chatbot Builder — which help identify user intent based on visitor responses.
  • Survey tools — like SurveyMonkey — which allow you to directly ask website visitors about their preferences and intentions.
  • B2B lead databases — like ZoomInfo — which collect intent signals and contact information of thousands of companies.  

You can have one or multiple tools that stack on top of each other.

However, the best way to get meaningful data on buyer's intent is to use an AI-powered tool that combines first- and third-party data to create a holistic and accurate picture of your audience's intent.

We'll discuss more about this later in this post.

What to look for when selecting a buyer intent data provider?

Not all intent data providers are the same, and there are four dimensions you should look into before choosing the one that'll fit your needs best:

  • Signal variety. Different data providers capture different signals to decypher intent. Pick a provider that uses as many signals as possible — including search engine queries, social media activity, ad clicks, and webinar sign-ups — to make accurate calculations. There isn't one tool that will cover everything and it's common practice to use multiple tools to get buyer intent data. It's important to know what every tool supports so you can create smart tech stacks yourself.
  • Data source. First-party data is the most reliable because it’s coming from your own website and is the most recent. You want a provider that can capture and analyze first-party data in real-time for the most accurate results (like Lift AI).
  • Data age. Old intent data is essentially useless. The more time that passes, the higher chances that your prospects have lost interest or made a purchase. Once again, real-time data is the best way to avoid this.
  • Data accuracy. At the end of the day, even if your data is up-to-date and comes from multiple sources with a strong signal variety, if it's not accurate, it won't help you. Using inaccurate data or even just the wrong data signals can impact the accuracy of your predictions. As a result, you may score visitors as having high intent that do not and vice versa. You want a provider that measures its predictions accurately and with repeatability. 

5 best buyer intent data providers in 2023

Now that you understand what buyer intent data is, its benefits, and what to look for in a data provider, the moment has come that we reveal the top 5 buyer intent data providers for 2023. 

1. Lift AI — For predicting on-site buyer intent with machine learning

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We made Lift AI as an answer to a simple question — with thousands of anonymous website visitors, how can you identify a good prospect?

Lift AI generates behavioral buyer intent data from monitoring users’ real-time activity on your website, which surfaces hidden buyers (and non-buyers) right then and there - even if those users are completely anonymous. 

This is in contrast to traditional providers that rely on “deanonymizing” visitors, which is the process of comparing a visitor’s IP address to a third party database of company and contact information. This may tell you “who” is on your website, but tells you nothing about the buyer intent of that visitor. Additionally, deanonymizing typically works for up to 30% of your website traffic, leaving the remaining 70% completely anonymous. 

Traditional intent tools also have a different idea of buying intent. They typically look at a few basic website engagement signals such as pricing page views and time on site, with each signal given an arbitrary score based on human hypothesis and anecdotal experience, then added together to form “intent”. However, this is often inaccurate, incomplete, and untimely. 

Instead, Lift AI assigns a buyer intent score to every website visitor based on their behavior, creating new first-party data for your website. It uses pre-trained machine learning to process many more signals, cross-referenced against each other in real-time to create dynamic buyer intent scores, which deliver much more accurate predictions of conversion probability. In fact, Lift AI has 85% accuracy in determining buyer intent, something existing tools (and humans) simply cannot do.

In other words, Lift AI identifies all visitors who are demonstrating buying intent in real-time, as determined by their behavioral similarity to billions of past buyers pre-trained into the model, and assigns them a score between 0 and 100 - ready for your tools and sales team to convert (or deflect) accordingly.

In doing so it has helped our client Chronus uncover 85% of it's website pipeline from anonymous visitors, and our client Formstack got an 18x ROI in only 6 quarters.

The best part? You can add Lift AI buyer intent score to other buyer intent tools that typically rely on “deanonymizing” visitors through contact and account information such as 6Sense and Demandbase, allowing you to enrich the data they provide with Lift AI’s real-time behavioral buyer intent.


You’ll have to get in touch with our sales team to get a custom quote.

Use Lift AI if:

  • You heavily depend on your website for lead generation, pipeline, and revenue
  • You want to identify and target the right website visitors for engagement 
  • You want to utilize your sales resources efficiently and only use them with high potential opportunities
  • You are looking for a solution that provides real-time, first-party data

If you want to see how Lift AI can help you achieve all of this, get in touch with us today!

2. ZoomInfo Marketing OS — For identifying decision-makers

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ZoomInfo was founded in 2007 with one goal: to help sales, marketing, and recruiting professionals hit their numbers.

ZoomInfo is a sales and marketing toolset that offers traditional buyer intent insights as part of its account-based marketing (ABM) platform called the Marketing OS. The tool relies on basic buying signals — such as keywords and searched-for topics — to help find ready-to-buy prospects in its database. It uses your ideal customer profile to track relevant prospects and keeps an eye on signals tracked from 300,000 publisher domains. The best thing about ZoomInfo is that it can help you identify the whole buying team based on their search activity and reach the decision-makers for the most impact. To top it off, it can integrate with Lift AI, CRM, marketing, and sales software so you can leverage their intent insights without too much hassle.

ZoomInfo generally helps B2B marketers collect, evaluate and leverage B2B buyer intent data. Safe to say, this tool is ideal for B2B companies looking for an overall sales and marketing solution that also offers B2B intent data.

Where ZoomInfo falls short

Unlike Lift AI, ZoomInfo doesn’t track your anonymous website visitors behavior. Instead, it relies on “deanonymizing” prospects already present in its database, meaning you’ll miss out on the behavioral buyer intent data of a large proportion (average of 70%) of your website visitors who remain anonymous. ZoomInfo does track some basic website engagement metrics using signals such as views of the pricing or form page, whether they are a return visitor, and time on site, but these signals lack the accuracy and real-time nature of Lift AI’s behavioral approach.

Use ZoomInfo if:

  • You are a B2B company interested in identifying decision-makers for outreach
  • You don’t mind missing out on all of the anonymous visitors on your website or the first-party intent data you could capture from them (or have another tool for that)
  • You want a comprehensive sales and marketing solution in addition to an intent data provider

3. Demandbase — The ABM and historical intent data powerhouse

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Demandbase was born in 2007 with a simple mission: to transform how B2B companies go to market. 

Demandbase also relies on second- and third-party data, but is more complex than ZoomInfo and has one of the largest intent data pools on the market. It also uses AI to make accurate intent predictions - specifically by analyzing historical intent, meaning you can keep an eye on changing customer demands. But since these predictions are based largely on in-market intent signals like off-site search activity, they are not as accurate or actionable as those made by Lift AI which exclusively uses first party, real time behavioral intent data to make its predictions. 

Demandbase is designed for large enterprises with the budget and the need for sourcing contact and company level data on a huge scale.

Where Demandbase falls short

Demandbase is extremely complex and needs experts to make sense of it. In addition, it doesn’t process and analyze your website visitor behavior, in any more than a cursory manner, which is the most reliable source of intent data (especially for determining “real-time” intent).

Use Demandbase if:

  • You have a huge budget and a highly sophisticated sales and marketing team
  • You have a large outbound component for your go-to-market efforts
  • You want to effectively target your ad spend at in market, good ICP fit accounts 
  • You want to keep an eye on historical intent data for those accounts

4. 6sense — For arming your sales team with in-market and sales-stage data.

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6sense was founded in 2013 on a vision of bringing revenue generation predictability to sales and marketing with predictive intelligence.

It uses first, second, and third-party data (specifically visits to third-party sites, technographics, firmographics, local market forces, and even associations with charities or and civic organizations) to create custom predictions tailored to your business. The tool scores every customer account in your CRM and tells where they are in the buyer’s journey (e.g. top of funnel, middle, or bottom). Using this data, you can create in-depth customer segments to power ad campaigns or increase the efficiency of your CRM and marketing software. 6sense also equips you with AI tools that can write personalized emails and convert your marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) into sales meetings.

6sense’s ideal customers are business service, manufacturing, and tech companies that rely on large sales and marketing operations to drive growth with a diverse (usually enterprise-level) client base.

Where 6sense falls short

6sense does a great job of scoring customers in your account list and CRM so you can segment where they are in the buyer’s journey. This can power ad campaigns or increase the efficiency of your CRM and marketing software. 

However, because 6sense is based largely on in-market signals, its segmentation of the buyer journey is high level at best. It can give you directional clues as to what your target accounts are doing, but won’t tell you the buyer intent of each individual as they navigate your site. So, your team could end up chasing up a “top of funnel” 6Sense account while ignoring the “high intent” visitors on your website right now, as identified by Litt AI.

Although 6sense knows about the value of anonymous website visitors in their reference to the “dark web”, they still focus on “deanonymizing” website visitors which relies on matching IP addresses to databases of information, meaning you miss out on the ~70% of anonymous visitors on your website. 

Use 6sense if:

  • You have a large dataset of client data and want to make sense of it all
  • You’re having problems aligning your sales and marketing
  • You want to prioritize your ad spend, marketing, and sales activities to accounts that fit your ICP

5. Bombora — For tracking the digital journey of your prospects

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Bombora was founded in 2014 with a mission to revolutionize B2B sales and marketing martech, specifically helping businesses see the relevance, timeliness, and accuracy of their sales and marketing.

Bombora measures your prospect’s digital journey across +5000 B2B websites, ethically gathering intent data. You can use Bombora to understand what content your prospects are looking for, and how intently they’re looking for it. By supplementing your existing sales and marketing with this data, you can shorten your sales cycles and boost engagement.

It’s a great tool for businesses of any size that need deeper insights into what their prospects are looking for and how to help them.

Where Bombora falls short

Bombora isn’t a complete solution for understanding buyer intent because it relies heavily on third-party and off-site data. For example, it may understand that a target account has been consuming content relating to your industry, but that doesn’t necessarily mean buying intent. It can complement sales and marketing operations, but shouldn’t be relied on exclusively. Think of it more like data-as-a-service to enrich your other sales intelligence tools. As with many of the other tools on this list, Bombora still attaches the majority of their data to company and contact information rather than real-time behavioral buyer intent, leaving your anonymous visitors untouched.

Use Bombora if:

  • You want to get a sense of what your prospects and customers are looking for online
  • You don’t need a personalized solution based on first-party data
  • You want to combine the first party, real time capability of a tool like Lift AI with the third party in-market intent data of Bombora

Buyer intent simplified

To summarize, buyer intent data includes everything that can predict how close a prospect is to making a purchase, and how large is their pain point. This can be used for a wide range of purposes: from reaching out at just the right time and place to creating better ads and optimizing landing pages.

There are many sources you can get buyer intent data from, which we call first-, second-, and third-party data. First-party data — or data that comes directly from your own website — is the most reliable source of intent data.

At Lift AI, we use machine learnings to provide you with highly accurate, easy-to-understand, and real-time first-party intent data that’s far more meaningful than what other providers offer. Try it out today!

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