How do you unlock the potential of intent data?

6th Sep 2021

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on many aspects of our lives and livelihoods. But even as the world charts its slow but sure course to recovery, there are some things that’ll never return to their pre-pandemic ways.

B2B sales and marketing is one (or two) of them, whereby the locking down of entire continents forced buyers to research and make purchase decisions remotely. And the way marketers reached decision-makers was turned on its head, as in-person events and traditional means of marketing suddenly became impossible.

Owing to the convenience and cost-efficiency afforded by this shift, it seems digital, more self-serve buying journeys are here to stay. In response, marketers need to identify their in-market buyers as early as possible to maintain sales growth and presence against competitors. Especially when we consider that 50% of buyers choose the first vendor to respond.

So, how are sales and marketing professionals keeping up with the competition and changeable customer demands? For many, the answer lies in buyer intent data, which we will explore in order to help you understand and anticipate how buyer intent can be the key to unlocking success in today’s data-driven world.

Understanding buyer intent data

Simply put, intent data is the set of behavioural signals that shows a prospect’s intention to purchase a product or service. When a buyer has a pain point, they visit websites, read reviews, scroll through social media and search for any other means to solve their problems. In the process, they rack up a digital footprint, or what we call intent data.

By having access to this data, sales and marketing teams can reach out to decision-makers at the optimum point in their buying journey, with messaging that’s tailored to their exact requirements.

Or to think of it another way: without intent data, your prospects could be out there right now, searching for a solution to a problem you can solve. But you’d be unaware and powerless to act – and many a sales opportunity would slip through the net. Moreover, a recent study from Dun & Bradstreet of B2B digital marketers revealed how intent data has helped them  gain a competitive edge. A high proportion of respondents stated that intent data has allowed their organisation to understand customers interactions with competitors (83%) and identify signals when customers are considering switching vendors (82%).

Different types of intent data

Before realising the potential of intent data, it’s important to understand its two main forms: first-party data and third-party data. Simply put, the former is every data point you collect about your own audience, using visitor analytics software such as your CRM, Google Analytics, or any other technology you use to monitor data from user behaviours, actions or interests demonstrated across your website.

Third-party data, on the other hand, is any information collected from a variety of sources by a company with no direct connection to the consumer. Both are different in nature, but when combined can be a powerful tool for sales and marketing professionals to use in their ABM campaigns and prospecting activities through being able to identify the businesses behind the IP address, and therefore receive a holistic overview of the user journey and a buyer’s intent.

In today’s data-driven world, however, not all third-party data is created equal. And a wave of data legislations – such as GDPR – make it clear that organisations are accountable for the data they acquire. So, be sure to do your research to be sure of both its quality and if the data has been gathered in accordance with the relevant regulations.

Overcoming intent data challenges

Beyond simply having to monitor the provenance of data, sales and marketing teams also face a number of other challenges when incorporating intent data into their strategy. One such obstacle is the effective managing and modelling of data.

In a competitive business environment, driven by hyper-disruptive technology and ever-changing consumer demands, it’s no longer enough to simply have data. Businesses need to apply data intelligence to understand and use the right data in the right way, to connect all of the dots – data, insights and algorithms – to optimise processes, increase efficiency and drive innovation.

In addition, it’s equally as important to break down all silos. Unlocking the potential of buyer intent data only works if sales and marketing teams see themselves as part of one continuous process, beginning with lead identification and ending with a sale. Of course, both teams will have specific roles to play, but close collaboration is the key to guiding prospects through the marketing-sales funnel.

By observing the above, businesses will be well on the way to mastering buyer intent data. But the final pieces of the puzzle are personalisation and precision – married with intelligence – to not only ensure you get there first, but that you also reach prospects with the relevant communications to convert.

Even before the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19, digital’s rapid rise and the hyper-disruptive landscape to emerge with this were accelerating the need for buyer intent data. But today, more than ever before, our world will be driven by data – and the leveraging of a partner that combines data intelligence, provenance, personalisation and precision will be critical to success.

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