Updated 20 October, 2021 with new insights.
The success of your B2B sales and marketing tactics depends heavily on data. Experienced marketing teams know it’s not enough to use data only for top of funnel awareness generation. The real potential value of B2B data is the power to achieve comprehensive business objectives throughout the customer engagement funnel.
Combining a good understanding of the customer needs armed with data intelligence not only provides a competitive edge, but also helps to build a strong and consistent pipeline for your sales team to convert prospects into potential buyers and, ultimately, revenue.
Given the current market maturity stage we’re at in 2021, there’s a limited number of marketers and sales professionals who truly know how to make smart use of data to take advantage of the vast array of customer insights it offers. One of the most important types of data for driving sales and marketing insights is B2B intent data.
In fact, according to market research firm Ascend2, 97% of B2B marketers believe that third-party intent data will give brands a competitive advantage in the year ahead. From this study, most marketers stated that “intent data can be used to better understand open opportunities or existing customers and move them through the conversion, retention, and expansion funnel.”
How Intent Data Streamlines Buyer Journeys
Simply put, intent data is a set of behavioral signals that shows the intention of your prospects to purchase a product or service. Your prospects are actively seeking solutions, looking for vendors which might offer products or services to address the problems they have. They search online, consume content, conduct extensive reviews, and ultimately leave a “digital exhaust” trail of buyer intent signals that show what they’re interested in.
According to studies by leading industry analyst firms, an average B2B prospect is already 67% of the way into their purchasing journey before ever engaging with a salesperson. Combining specific purchase intent signals with other buyer intent data provides a clearer 360-degree view to help leverage customer insights to the company’s advantage. This means prospective customers have an intention to buy a product or services and a BDR only has to focus on the remaining 33% to close the deal.
How Buyer Intent Data Improves Engagement
Once prospective buyers hit your website, marketers try many ways to monitor their activity and assign them lead scores. Often marketers will use retargeting ads or email campaigns to nurture the leads once the prospect sends a strong signal or completes a form on the website.
Great! However, what about all those prospects who are looking for solutions and B2B companies similar to yours elsewhere on the internet and not on your website?
When your prospects visit other websites, you can’t capture any visibility into what they are engaging with. Only a fraction of buyers actively searching for a solution will make it to your site without proactive sales and marketing outreach, and even out of those hitting your site only about 10–15% may actively engage in a sales cycle to become qualified leads.
This is where you need to leverage buyer intent data to identify those prospects who are actually willing to engage in a buying cycle based on the type of content they are consuming.
Why Use Intent Data to Find Prospects and Customers
Understanding buyer intent — whether it’s first-party intent data (that you gather yourself) or it comes from third-party sources — is a must for any marketer or salesperson looking for a higher success rate and for discovering ways to better engage potential customers.
Understanding prospects’ behavior and triggers helps businesses analyze what makes up their consumption over time. Marketing and sales teams can then target a specific profile with this knowledge and, instead of doing a cold outreach, take a personalized approach to increase the likelihood of a purchase decision.
With numerous aggregated intent signals from intent data providers, marketers can identify “ready to buy” prospects and fine-tune their campaigns accordingly (while also making intent data cuts to be more precise). This intent data can be used for future prospecting as they reveal certain patterns, helping you to boost the purchase decisions of your prospects on their buyer journey.
Given that, it is important to know that many organizations, potentially including your competitors, are discovering ways to make best use of intent data. In fact, a market study has shown that 25% of B2B businesses are currently using intent data, while another 35% are preparing to use it within the next year. What do your plans look like?
How to Use Intent Data for Your Business
Here are five ways leading marketers are using intent data to develop more successful campaigns. To remain competitive, the use of buyer intent data is increasingly important, as there are many areas where it can have significant impact.
1. Identify Opportunities Just in Time
The most obvious use of intent data is tapping prospective customers earlier in their buying journey. One of the best ways to get a leg up on your competition is to detect intent signals as fast as you can and engage the prospect before other salespeople do.
Research shows that potential buyers prefer the business whose salesperson communicates with them first. Yet if 98% of your website visitors are anonymous, how would you effectively determine intent? Consider a tool that evaluates and scores each visitor based on their purchase intent — be it high, medium, or low — and can then help you engage the right opportunities.
2. Fine-Tune Your Lead Scoring
Buyer intent data can help distinguish between those prospects actively researching pain points and those simply looking for a particular topic without any intention to make a purchase. This information highlights whether the lead fits your ideal customer profile or not and helps in your prioritization efforts.
Better still, using an AI solution to provide the right level of accuracy for the visitor behavior is crucial to determining who is truly a high score vs. low score to drive the right level of sales engagement.
3. Expand Your Account-Based Marketing
Account-based marketing is all about relationships. B2B intent data can become an incredibly important contributor to engaging and building relationships with the right prospective customers. While ABM often requires firmographic and technographic data, leading marketing teams are using lots of techniques to collect more information about their prospects that will help them take a laser-focused approach.
Intent data not only helps marketers expand their reach but also provides insights they might not be able to collect directly themselves. This data uncovers more in-market customers, scores leads with greater precision, and re-shapes ABM campaigns with personalized messaging. This can also lead to far better website experiences with tools like live chat, which engage the right user at the right time.
Engaging high-quality visitors via chat is one of the most powerful marketing tactics. Your BDRs can control the experience with feedback loops that are instant and provide more value per second than in nearly any other marketing channel.
4. Refine Your Content Strategy
Intent data can enable you to create a content strategy that matches what your ideal customers find interesting or engaging. While several SEO tools can help you find the top keywords and trending topics, when you leverage buyer intent data you’ll get a whole new layer of information to strengthen your content marketing strategy right away.
5. Time Targeted Advertising for Engagement
By using intent data, you can make your advertising campaigns even more granular by capitalizing on leads that exhibit certain signals. With this technique, you don’t waste any of your advertising dollars on people who have only a passing interest and have no intent to purchase your product or service.
Once you are able to achieve the insight between what your B2B buyers need and their buyer intent signals, then you can start sharing specific content that will help them meet their objectives and create fresh opportunities for your sales and marketing teams to engage.
Use Buyer Intent Data in Your Marketing & Sales Efforts
Intent data can be incredibly valuable on its own. However, it works best when paired with other data points such as firmographic and technographic metrics to create a holistic scoring model that also reflects qualifying criteria and engagement. If used in the right combination, both third and first-party intent data can be a powerful predictor of which accounts have the highest chances of buying your product or service. Your marketing and sales efforts will be better served, and you will create greater chances to turn those potential buyers into actual customers.
How do you take advantage of intent data? Consider a solution that can identify website visitors buying-intent (rather than just who they are) as well as tell you this in real time. But for this to work accurately and on a large scale, it would need to take advantage of AI, as a human could not possibly calculate the necessary parameters to do so.
Meet Lift AI — 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 single user getting assigned a virtual score representing how likely they are to buy at any given moment.
Lift AI evaluates every visitor as soon as they land on your website and then works with live chat for sales you already use (e.g. Drift or LivePerson) to select an appropriate path. For example, low-scoring visitors might get an automated chatbot experience while high-scoring ones connect with your BDRs right away for conversion.
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 most valuable 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 nicely with website analytics, email forms, data-enrichment tools, and chat. Now you can know who a visitor is, and their real-time purchase intent.