Intent data is an important predictive tool for marketers. It tells marketers with more certainty, what prospects or leads are going to do next. Intent data can either be internal, meaning that you can obtain it from your company’s website or CRM. It can also be external or third-party data, sourced through tools like IDG, TechTarget or bombora.
Intent data is drawn from the following digital activities and information:
- User online activity such as downloading, form filling, clicks
- IP address tracking, which shows the origins of surge data
- Cookie data
- Purchases on personal website
When dealing with third party intent data, sourcing that data from the right provider increases accuracy levels. Tests conducted by Aberdeen show that data from reputable providers can provide up to 91% accuracy whereas inaccurate data can yield problems such as false positives (finding intent where none exists).
In this article, we will explore how having access to intent data sources can shape your b2b sales and marketing strategy. But first, let’s look at what makes intent data possible:
The “How” of Intent Data
Research carried out by B2BecNews on 110 businesses found that 59.5% of business buyers research 2 to 3 websites before buying while 29.7% will research up to 7 websites. (source: 2018 B2B Ecommerce Buyer Expectations Report)
Figure 1: (Image source digital commerce 360)
More so, just like b2c buyers, b2b buyers now tend to look for an immersive digital experience and will conduct up to 12 searches before they engage with a brand. This level of digital activity will tell you what a visitor’s intentions are, hence, intent data.
From intent data, you can learn about an organization’s plans and their level of seriousness for your product, or other offerings similar to yours. You can then respond to the organization with targeted and personalized communication and content.
How Can Sales and Marketing Leverage Intent Data to Grow In 2020?
Intent data is relevant during presale and post-sale periods. Below are ways that you can use intent data to improve your presale strategy.
Find New Prospects
When you want to expand your business to target a new market or audience, third party intent data is a good place to start. There are times when organizations don’t actively look for a product but with the right content push, you can steer them towards a purchase decision.
One effective way to find potential new buyers is by monitoring social media for industry news shared by your competitors. You can also use social media to find any new memberships or interests that your competitors are engaging in.
Once you have this information, you can:
- Nurture those potential buyers with marketing content or
- Target or retarget them with ads
Nurture Them With Personalized Content
Personalization results in better digital marketing results. Companies that personalize communication with their clients report:
- Improved customer relations (up to 96% of marketers maintain this opinion),
- Higher conversion rates, and,
- Overall improvement in business results.
To personalize, you have to look at intent data on a case by case basis and ask yourself questions such as, “Based on this search data, what is this customer interested in?” From that, you can create content for them based on their past activity. Note that contextual information should also play a part in personalization. Contextual information may include:
- Online activities
- Topics of interest
- The organization they work for
- The position they hold within that organization
Paying attention to all these factors can greatly improve a prospect’s experience, causing them to notice you in the process.
Generate High Qualify Leads With More Efficiency
Monitoring user behavior is key to unlocking accounts with high purchase potential. When you market only to high value targets, you narrow the scope of your marketing activities to specific accounts thus:
- Increase efficiency and minimize wastage of resources
- Achieve higher ROI
Intent data tells you how far down the customer journey each prospect has progressed. In addition, a combination of intent and context data helps with lead scoring, which tells you the quality of your leads.
- A visit on your website by an intern is quite different from a visit by a CEO
- Reading general industry information differs in weight from reading product specific information on websites
- When a visitor starts comparing prices, it shows intent to buy, as opposed to a visitor who bookmarks pages
Interpreting data on all these actions in the right way is important as it will aid you in crafting an appropriate marketing response to your high-quality leads.
Figure 2: Example: The lead scoring process (source: Salesforce)
Intent data also tells you things such as:
- The channels to actively target your prospects on
- The content to employ
- The offers to serve
- The timing of each lead nurturing action
Intent data is often used to understand and respond to buyer behavior. Often however, marketers miss the impact of intent data post sale. After a purchase, intent data can serve to elevate the customer experience in the following ways:
Continue to Nurture And Retain Relationships
Continuing to give value is a great way to grow and retain your relationship with your customers.
- “Fit comes first”. Figure out who fits your ideal customer profile.
- Put them on a list of target accounts
- Decide when to work on them. Let intent guide you here
- Personalize your messaging for them based on what they are doing or looking at online
This approach allows you to deliver marketing that is relevant, customized and timely. What’s interesting is that with this approach, you can win more with your customers post sale.
How? Your customers have interests in your industry beyond your purchase, which they may research online. Pay attention to such online activities and then create valuable content around the topics they search.
Predict and Prevent Churn
Intent data gives you a look into what customers think about your company or solution and in this way allows you to improve the timing of your response.
For instance, when a current customer starts researching your competitors, this could be a sign that they are thinking of ending their subscription with you. Proactive outreach to such customers can save the relationship before it’s too late. According to studies, it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer as opposed to gaining a new one, so it’s always best to spend your energy and budget on customer retention.
In addition, post-sale intent data will help to build more loyalty. Why? When you don’t want a customer to leave, you go over and above to ensure you meet their needs, address their concerns and generally keep them comfortable. It would take a very big push for such a customer to leave your business.
Exploit Cross-Sell and Upsell Opportunities
If intent data shows that your customers are reaching out to competitors whose products have certain features, this presents a good opportunity to sell them such a solution.
It also means that you need to improve your messaging. If you offer a solution and your customers aren’t aware of it, improve your onboarding process so that those areas are included, and also craft better messaging to increase awareness.
Example. A customer has bought customer management software from you. Your company also offers CRM solutions which could be integrated with the CMS for more efficiency and great cost saving opportunities. However, cost is a factor for your customer. Intent data suggests that the customer is looking for more budget-friendly solutions from competition. Sales and marketing should reach this customer with offers. E.g send automated messages for a free trial.
An analysis carried out by Adobe found that in Europe and the USA, it takes 5 to 7 shoppers to make up the equivalent of revenue generated from 1 repeat customer. In addition, existing customers have a conversion rate of up to 9 times higher. (Source: Adobe Digital Index)
Other research shows that a repeat purchase by the same customer is worth 10 times more than the first purchase.
Figure 3: source: (White House Office of Consumer Affairs via Salesforce Desk)
This highlights the importance of customer retention.
You can identify patterns in your intent data, and from those patterns, find out whether your customers may be looking for alternative solutions. Intent data can also give insights such as why the customer wants to jump ship. You can then prepare an offering that will satisfy your customer more.
Intent Data for Hyper Personalization
Intent data can help you to hyper personalize your marketing, especially for account-based approaches.
Once you understand your buying groups based on the topics they are researching or what they are doing at the present moment, you introduce greater precision in your messaging.
With greater precision comes:
- Improved measurement of engagement metrics such as email open rates, click through rates on ads, time on page, etcetera.
- Optimization of marketing spend, since you will only market to accounts that are out to buy your solutions.
These two factors combined increase the likelihood of a better ROI.
That’s it for now. When there is a gap in sales and marketing operations, it becomes difficult to respond to customers’ needs. With intent data, you can bridge that gap, and add so much value both in the presale or post sale stage.