Using Intent Data to Power up your Lead Generation Efforts
Back in the day, all you needed to determine whether a prospect would buy something or not was their body language and willingness to interact. Yet, sales processes are becoming more sophisticated. They involve more channels, more touchpoints, more stakeholders but fewer personal interactions. This makes it difficult at times to understand the buyer's real intentions. As a result, even an engaged prospect might go dark before closing.
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Luckily, there are technologies that allow salespeople to assess the prospect’s likelihood to buy. But what if I told you that there’s also a way to spot a “likely to buy” prospect without any prior interaction with them?
This is exactly what intent data can do. In this article, we will take a closer look at how that works.
But first, let’s start with the basics.
The role of intent data in lead generation
According to Gartner, “when B2B buyers are considering a purchase‚ they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers.” In case there are several vendors, it will be only 5-6%.
Most of the time, salespeople don’t even know when a prospect is on the lookout for their product. So, if a prospect doesn’t get in touch first, there’s not much they can do.
This is where intent data comes into play.
What is intent data?
Although the term is not new, its growing adoption in sales has given it a new lease on life. In a nutshell, intent data is a set of behavioral and contextual signals that show the prospect’s readiness or likelihood to buy.
That website visit? That Twitter post mentioning your competitor? Those 5+ views on your email? Those are all intent indicators you should be paying attention to.
Some of the most valuable signals for sales and marketing teams are:
- direct interactions with intent topics,
- clicking on ads with targeted keywords,
- downloading and consuming relevant content,
- engaging with sales emails, etc.
Yet, there might be more subtle but still valuable intent signals. It all depends on the specifics of your product or your target audience.
For example, a company that has recently hired a new CMO might consider growing its marketing stack soon. A business that has closed a funding round is likely about to start hiring. Based on the given context you can make assumptions and start acting.
But where do you get this kind of context? This depends on the exact type of intent data you need.
Different types of intent data
There are many sources you can get intent data from. You can use website cookies and activity trackers, social listening tools, data aggregators, or ABM tools.
Based on its source, intent data can be of two main categories:
- Internal (first-party) intent data
This is the data about your prospects or existing customers you source within your organization. You can collect it with the help of website cookies, email tracking, marketing automation tools, CRM, or application logs.
This might be a perfect choice if you’re only getting started with intent data. Yet, the amount and range of such data are pretty limited. You can only get insights into the prospects who are already aware of your product, have done some research, or have already interacted with your sales reps. The rest of the potential audience will remain out of view.
- External (third-party) intent data
In this case, you get the data outside of your organization, e.g. from aggregators or dedicated data providers. Unlike the first-party data, the external one is much more exhaustive and covers the audience that is not yet familiar with your product.
Yet, it has two significant downsides:
- External intent data is not unique. The provider offers you the same information that your competitors can buy and use.
- You can determine the quality of the collected data only empirically. But this can lead to an unnecessary waste of resources.
As you can see, both types of intent data have their pros and cons. But if you’re looking to get the most out of your intent data, I would recommend using a combination of internal and external sources. This will give you a 360-degree view of your audience and tailor your sales strategy for optimal results.
The benefits (and challenges) of intent data for lead generation
The role intent data plays in the modern sales process is hard to overestimate. We will get to the specific use cases a bit later.
For now, let’s just say that intent data can help you understand exactly who you should be targeting with your sales efforts, how you should do that, and when would be the best timing for what you have to offer.
As a result of your informed, data-driven sales efforts, you can expect several key benefits:
- Increase prospecting efficiency. Targeting high-internet leads will result in better output with lower input in terms of time, effort, and cost.
- Improve outbound sales results. Using intent data as a reason for contact with a laser-focused list can make your cold outreach “warmer” and more effective.
- Help with lead prioritization. Intent data can help you qualify your leads and allocate your efforts to focus on the ones who are most likely to convert.
- Enable more advanced personalization. You can use the data to build tailored experiences throughout your buyer journey (more on that below).
- Help in the creation of relevant content. Valuable insights into what your prospects might be interested in allow you to customize your content strategy.
With all the significant benefits, there are also certain challenges or limitations to the application of intent data:
- Sourcing the required data isn’t easy. There are many legal restrictions as well as technical limitations
- Both external and internal data come at a price. It's either the cost set by the data provider or implementation expenses.
- Data quality (especially for third-party data) might also be a common problem. There’s no way to check it before actually seeing it in action.
How to use intent data to power up your lead generation
According to the research, 97% of B2B marketers agree that intent data offers a competitive advantage to any business using it. And most of them are adopting it for lead generation activities. This includes identifying new accounts to target and prioritizing accounts for prospecting.
Let’s take a closer look at the top 3 use cases for intent data in lead generation.
- Website and content personalization
You can tailor the content and UI of your website to each prospect based on the available intent data. There are tons of ways to do so: from showing custom pop-ups based on a certain activity to dynamically personalizing some of the website elements.
For example, you can use the prospect’s IP address to localize your website content. The same information can also help you enrich your data. As a result, you can find out the company name along with the full list of firmographic and technographic details. And this type of intent data opens even wider opportunities for personalization.
- Targeted sales engagement outreach
Intent data that demonstrates the prospect’s interest can also help you build more targeted sales campaigns. Depending on what you’re selling, there are always clues to help you personalize your outreach and make it more relevant and appealing.
Some signals you might use here are:
- Growth, e.g. acquisitions investments, geographical expansion,
- Hiring or layoffs,
- Technographics, e.g. adoption of the new tools,
- Social activity,
- Direct interactions, e.g. website visit.
For example, if you’re an automation company selling sales automation software, a good idea would be to target companies hiring sales reps. In this case, you can position your offer as a viable option for a quicker and more cost-efficient solution to their need (growing revenue).
The approach has been working pretty well — here’s the report from a similar campaign we’ve been running to prove it.
- Account-based marketing
Being able to identify and focus on the right leads is key in ABM. Engaging them with personalized, relevant experiences early in the buying process is a double win!
Try to understand what type of content your prospects are usually searching for. Or find out where or how they usually spend their time online. This will give you enough insight to build an effective ABM campaign that will engage them in meaningful conversations.
In fact, both use cases (content/website personalization and direct outreach) can be a part of the bigger account-based campaign. Add some contextual ads across social media to the mix and tailor your messaging based on the specific intent and voila! — you have a surefire way to spark the prospect’s interest.
So, here’s a simple answer to the question “How intent data can power up your lead generation efforts?” It helps you get to know your prospects and, poetically speaking, separate the wheat from the chaff.
Success awaits you if you offer the right product to the right person at the right time. The intent data gives you all the ‘right’s so you don’t need to waste your time and effort stabbing in the dark.
It's not about finding the perfect customer. It’s rather about finding ways to make every interested in your products or services lead the perfect prospect. Balance and mutual benefit - that's the point.
Published on Jan 20 2022
WRITTEN BYIndrė Jankutė-Carmaciu
Indrė is a copywriter at Whatagraph with extensive experience in search engine optimization and public relations. She holds a degree in International Relations, while her professional background includes different marketing and advertising niches. She manages to merge marketing strategy and public speaking while educating readers on how to automate their businesses.
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