Intent marketing has earned its place as an important marketing strategy for B2B companies in recent times. By leveraging technological innovations such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and automated marketing platforms, B2B companies are able to get insights from intent signals that buyers emit online.
Statistics show that more than 80% of B2B buyers visit company websites prior to making purchase decisions. A further 92% rely on trusted reviews to make purchase decisions. When utilized well, this B2B buyer behavior can generate significant customer intent data that B2B companies can use to drive sales revenue.
The popularity of intent marketing among B2B companies is driven by the fact that it solves a challenge that every B2B marketer faces – how to place their product or service in front of prospects at a time when they are ready to make a purchase. By focusing on the signals that prospects send on what they need or want at any given time, intent marketing can effectively solve this challenge.
In this article, we explore intent marketing and how it promotes a customer centric approach in B2B marketing.
But, before we delve deeper into this topic, let’s unpack the term customer intent.
What Is Customer Intent?
In very simple terms, customer internet refers to the thoughts that direct the actions or decisions that customers make towards a given buying event. It is the in-the-moment purpose – like ‘I’m going to buy a watch’.
Supposing you want to sell tax compliance software to small businesses. You run Facebook campaigns, segmenting them by company size, location and industry. It is highly likely that nobody will care about what you are selling. But this will suddenly change when tax returns fall due. Small businesses will be all over the internet searching for good tax software. This is the moment your software rises as a solution.
It is a micro-moment. The exact time that consumers search for a product, a service or information. At this point, customers will have varying intentions – some want to learn, others want to do or to go and much more. This is what is known as customer intent.
With more than 75% of online searches occurring on Google, most micro-moments happen when consumers search for specific information online.
Google knows this very well as reflected in this quote by its Global Marketing VP, Lisa Gevelber,
“Marketers who rely only on demographics to reach consumers risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile shoppers. Why? Because demographics rarely tell the whole story. Understanding consumer intent is much more powerful.”
Beyond Standard Lead Generation
For a long time, standar B2B prospecting has been based on firmographic data. B2B sales teams used industry, company size and geographic coverage data to identify potential buyers. Though this approach helps with identifying firms that can be good targets, it does not give any insights that show whether those firms are ready for the solutions that B2B companies may be offering.
Intent marketing takes lead generation a notch higher by utilizing technographic data to provide B2B sales and marketing teams with deeper insights on what prospects buy and how they behave online. Intent marketing also rides on past buyer experiences to help B2B companies predict what their prospects are likely to do next through the use of predictive analytics.
This intent data boosts the accuracy with which they identify accounts that are a good fit for their offerings.
We explore intent data further below.
What Is Intent Data?
Anytime a prospect goes online to watch a video, read a blog, attend a webinar, download a whitepaper or ebook or do anything else, an intent signal is created. Put together, these signals constitute their digital footprints that say something about the problems they want to solve and their interests.
Collected over a period of time, this behavioral information about a person’s online activities is known as intent data. Through intent data, B2B companies can identify prospects that are actively involved in online research. This data can boost sales by alerting B2B sales and marketing teams when high value prospects are ready to purchase a given solution.
There are two kinds of intent data.
- Engagement data or first-party data. This data is generated by tracking websites and may be anonymous or known depending on whether your visitors leave contact details.
- Third party data. This data is generated by intent data providers that track numerous high value sites like publications, review and research sites.
See the difference between first and third party intent data in the image below.
How Do You Use Intent Data?
When you have intent data, there are several ways you can use it to boost conversions and increase sales. Here are four common ways that B2B companies use intent data:
- Powering Account Based Marketing (ABM) – Intent data can be used by sales and marketing teams to identify high value ABM accounts. This decision would be based on the prospect’s level of research and intent.
- Creating Outreach Lists – Intent data can help B2B sales and marketing teams to filter their targeting lists, enabling them to narrow down to accounts that demonstrate active interest in their outreach campaigns.
- Personalizing Outreaches – Intent data can help sales and marketing teams to personalize their outreach efforts by providing prospects with resources that correspond with accounts they are looking for.
- Targeting Advertising – Since intent data enables B2B companies to understand prospects better, marketing teams can use this information to target prospects with ads that match their needs and interests.
How Do I Get Extras from Intent?
This is a tech question that is applicable to the Android platform.
On the Android application, Intent refers to a messaging object that you use to request for an action from a different app component. Intents are used to pass data sets from one Activity to another.
For instance, you can initiate new Activity instances by passing Intents to startActivity() method. Intents are used to describe the activities and carry the necessary data with different putExtra() methods in the form of key value pairs. Extra data is needed when an Intent is included as an ‘extra’
Why Businesses Need to Start Practicing Intent Marketing?
B2B selling is not easy. Sales and marketing teams are constantly under pressure to meet sales targets. With the majority of B2B buyers conducting online pre-purchase research, making intent marketing an integral part of your marketing strategy can be rewarding.
Below are 5 ways you can benefit from intent marketing:
1. Better Targeting of Prospects
For costly solutions such as those offered by B2B companies, just a small percentage of your potential market will actively be involved in the purchase process at any given time. Targeting marketing efforts to prospects that have already started researching your industry, area of expertise or visited your website can give you an edge over competitors who may be taking a general approach. This will improve your marketing precision and boost your conversion rates significantly.
2. Better Way to Prioritize Leads
Your sales team may generate numerous leads for your company, but how do you determine which leads to prioritize. Through engagement data, intent marketing makes it possible for B2B sales and marketing teams to rank leads based on their potential to purchase specific services or products. This provides them with a better way of distinguishing between high value prospects and low-value leads.
3. Engages Prospects Early in the Purchase Journey
Knowing when your prospects are searching for solutions places you in a strategic position to place your product or service in front of them way before they make a purchase decision. This gives you the advantage of having them consider your solution before your competitors get to them. It also gives your sales team a unique opportunity to nurture leads through the sales process. They can do this by sending them personalized messages based on the interests and problems reflected in their intent data.
4. Boosts Lead Generation Efforts
At any given time, there is a prospect somewhere researching solutions or products that your company is offering. The problem is, they are searching for them on your site. Intent marketing enables your company to use advanced lead scoring techniques to track online searches and alert B2B sales and marketing teams of high value leads based on the activities they conduct online. This makes it easier for your sales teams to prospect and generate new leads for your company.
5. Enables Personalized and Targeted Campaigns
Third-party intent data can play a critical role in helping B2B sales teams to discover prospects that search for content in their business niche at any given time. With this information, marketing teams can boost their marketing efforts by personalizing their campaigns in a way that captures the attention of those prospects. Similarly, B2B marketers can use intent data to make targeted ads more accurate. This helps in increasing conversion rates and ultimately increases sales revenue for the business.
Intent marketing is a game changer for B2B marketers. This is because it enables them to resolve a challenge they have experienced for a long time – how to reach the right prospects, with the right message, at the right time. By using intent data, prospecting and nurturing leads becomes much easier for B2B sales teams.
With a growing number now embracing intent marketing, intent data is slowly becoming a necessity for every B2B company. If you haven’t made intent marketing an integral part of your company’s marketing strategy, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. But it’s never too late to get started. The best way to do this is to start tracking engagement data on your website and grow from there.