November 1, 2023

The Value of Buyer Intent Data: A Comprehensive Guide

Don Simpson

Updated Oct 30, 2023: We introduced new sections covering the definition of buyer intent data and how it can be captured.

The success of your B2B sales and marketing strategy depends on the quality of data you have at your disposal. Results-driven marketing teams know that high-quality B2B data helps them achieve business objectives throughout the customer engagement funnel, not just the more typical top of the funnel awareness generation. 

If you can combine a solid understanding of customer needs with data intelligence, it will not only result in a competitive edge but also help build a strong and consistent pipeline for your sales team to convert prospects into revenue.

In the current market, few marketers and sales professionals know how to make smart use of data to take advantage of the vast array of customer insights. And one of the most important types of data providing those insights is buyer intent data. 

Market research firm Ascend2 reports that 97% of B2B marketers believe that third-party intent data can give brands a competitive advantage. They say that “intent data can be used to better understand open opportunities or existing customers and move them through the conversion, retention, and expansion funnel.”

Let’s dive deeper into what buyer intent data is, how it can be captured, and why you should use it to increase your conversions. 

Tip: Uncover the full value of buyer intent data with Lift AI — a buyer intent solution that works for every single visitor on your website in real time.

What Is Buyer Intent Data?

Buyer intent measures the level of interest of potential customers for your product or service — how likely they are to buy it. Buyer intent data then is a combination of hundreds (or thousands) of signals that help determine buyer intent. 

Buyer intent signals can be explicit and implicit. Explicit signals are those that are declared by potential customers: online search queries, demo requests, and trial signups. Implicit signals are based on behavioral clues, such as time spent on your website, the number of returning visits, social media engagement, and more.

Not all buyer intent data, however, is created equal. High-quality buyer intent data separates true signals (intent) from the background (normal behavior). As a result, your marketing and sales teams can become more effective by optimizing their communication and reaching out to the most promising leads based on those signals. 

Knowing which signals best represent buyer intent will help better target and differentiate your digital advertising. The most popular signals have competitive advertising markets — that’s why knowing what the best signals are for your company can make your ads cost less for better results. 

Buyer intent data helps companies find potential customers right at the consideration stage of their buyer journey. 

How Is Buyer Intent Data Collected?

There are different types of intent data. You can collect internal (first-party) data on your own web properties or you can rely on external (second- and third-party) data collection by other vendors. 

With first-party data collection, you can use various analytical tools (e.g. Google Analytics) to gather intent signals across your website, landing pages, ads, email campaigns, app usage, and more. Typical data here are CTA clicks, survey replies, impressions, social media follows, sent emails, and more. 

The challenge of first-party data collection is making sense of all the data you’ve gathered. How do you turn hundreds of signals into an accurate narrative about someone’s buyer intent? Additionally, unless you have a large audience, getting enough data for a meaningful analysis would be difficult. 

That’s where second- and third-party data comes into play. Second-party data is more rare and involves commissioning another company to collect and analyze buyer intent for you. Third-party data means sourcing information (e.g. contact information) from a variety of aggregators that specialize in your industry. 

The downside of second-party intent data is high cost and somewhat limited scope. Third-party intent data can provide nearly unlimited insights but their accuracy has to be verified. Getting inaccurate B2B intent data that you rely on might be worse than having nothing at all, that’s why it’s important to choose the types of intent data carefully.

While a few large third-party data vendors provide tools for interpreting buyer intent from their signals, it’s the recent rise of AI and machine learning solutions that made processing vast amounts of data possible in real time. 

Key Benefits of Using Buyer Intent Data

When prospective buyers land on your website, you have lots of ways of monitoring their activity and estimating their lead scores. You can even follow up with them through retargeting ads or email campaigns if there’s a strong enough signal. 

However, the majority of prospective buyers who are actively looking for what you have to offer will never come to your website. And the majority of those who do won’t engage with your sales team to reveal themselves as qualified leads. 

B2B intent data can help you identify promising companies that are willing to engage in a buying cycle based on their online behavior. 

Using buyer intent, sales and marketing teams can understand what interests potential buyers and create personalized approaches instead of doing cold outreach. 

Over 25% of businesses recognize those benefits and are using purchase intent data to deliver ads and campaigns to companies with a high engagement potential. And that number is growing every year. 

Real-World Applications and Success Stories

Studies by leading industry analyst firms show that an average B2B prospect is 67% of the way into their purchasing journey before engaging with a salesperson. 

Companies that use intent data can leverage these insights to bridge the remaining 33% and close the deal. Here are five ways in which sales teams can use intent data for more successful campaigns.

1. Identify Opportunities at the Right Time

The most obvious use of intent data is finding prospective customers earlier in their buying journey. You can get ahead of your competition if you detect intent signals faster than anyone else and engage prospects before others do. 

Research shows that potential buyers prefer businesses that communicate with them first. But it’s not easy to do when the majority (up to 98%) of your website visitors are anonymous. You need to use a tool that evaluates and scores each visitor based on their purchase intent — be it high, medium, or low — and can help you engage with the right opportunities. 

2. Fine-Tune Your Lead Scoring

Buyer intent data helps distinguish between prospects who are actively researching solutions and those looking for ideas without any intention to make a purchase. You can use this data in combination with your ideal customer profile to prioritize engagement efforts.

Using an AI lead scoring solution can provide the right level of accuracy for the visitor behavior and be crucial to determining high vs. low intent. 

3. Expand Your ABM

Account-based marketing is all about relationships. Leading ABM tools feature firmographic and technographic data, while B2B intent solutions can contribute to engaging and building relationships with the right prospective customers from the broader ABM selection.

Intent data helps marketers expand their reach and provides insights they might not be able to collect directly themselves. For example, intent data uncovers in-market customers, scores leads with greater precision, and re-shapes ABM campaigns with personalized messaging. 

Using intent data can lead to far better website experiences with tools like live chat, which engage the right users at the right time. As a result, your BDRs can control the experience with an instant feedback loop, providing more value per second than in nearly any other marketing channel. 

4. Refine Your Content Strategy

Intent data enables companies to create a relevant content strategy that matches the interests of their target audience. While SEO and content tools can help identify keywords or trending topics, leveraging buyer intent data provides a whole new layer of information to strengthen any content marketing strategy. 

5. Time-Sensitive Advertising for Engagement

Using intent data can result in more granular advertising campaigns that capitalize on leads showing particular behavioral signals. This technique does away with wasting advertising dollars on people who have a passing interest and no intent to purchase. 

Once you link B2B buyers and their intent signals, you can start sharing specific content that will help them meet their objectives and create new sales opportunities for your team to explore. 

Lift AI’s Distinctive Approach to Buyer Intent Data

Buyer intent data is incredibly valuable. But it works even better when paired with other data points, such as firmographic and technographic metrics, to create a holistic scoring model that reflects qualifying criteria and engagement. 

If used right, both first- and third-party intent data can be powerful predictors of which accounts have the highest chances of buying your product or service. Your B2B marketing and sales efforts will be better served, and you’ll create greater changes to turn potential buyers into customers.

How do you take advantage of intent data? Consider a solution that can identify website visitors’ buyer intent in real time. To work on a large scale, this solution would need to take advantage of AI. This is what Lift AI does. 

Lift AI is the only platform that leverages the power of artificial intelligence and a proprietary machine-scoring model to identify website visitors under any conditions, with over 85% accuracy. Imagine every website visitor getting assigned a virtual score representing how likely they are to buy at any given moment.

Lift AI evaluates everyone as soon as they land on your website and then works with your marketing stack, such as live chat (e.g. Drift) to select an appropriate path. For example, low-scoring visitors might get an automated chatbot experience while high-scoring ones connect directly with your BDRs.

The unprecedented accuracy of Lift AI comes from more than 15 years of sales data across industries, with over a billion visitors profiled and over 14 million conversations analyzed. As a result, your sales team will gain instant access to your high-value visitors and increase their conversion rate in no time. 

Moreover, Lift AI is the perfect layer on top of the rest of your visitor engagement stack, working natively with website analytics, email forms, data-enrichment tools, and chat. You no longer have to guess who your website visitors are and their real-time purchase intent.

Future of Buyer Intent Data: What Lies Ahead?

With the evolution of more powerful machine-learning models and AI algorithms, B2B buyer intent data providers are going to become ubiquitous and integrate directly with ABM and other marketing tools. 

But you have the first-mover advantage today and the ability to leverage intent data, and win more customers who are interested in your product, while using advertising and sales budgets in a more effective way with Lift AI. 

Lift AI customers report chat conversion increases of up to 10 times within the first 90 days. PointClickCare, for example, increased its conversions by 400%, attributing over $1M of extra revenue to using Lift AI. Formstack, another customer, grew its conversions by 420%

As the value of buyer intent data will continue to grow over time, exploring its power with a solution like Lift AI will set up your sales and marketing teams to capitalize on all that future growth.

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