ABM Playbook

How to Use Intent Data to Enhance ROI & Drive Sales Growth

B2B intent data provides insight into a web user’s purchase intent; allowing you to identify if and when a prospect is actively considering, or looking to purchase your (or similar) products or solutions.

Collated from a range of digital sources, intent data largely uses cookies to monitor for key intent search terms; so can pinpoint when a target account or prospect is in an active buying journey - enabling informed, timely campaign responses.

Identifying In-Market Accounts

If you could identify the precise prospects and accounts in-market for your solution - then target them with the right messaging to suit their specific buying stage, challenges and interests - wouldn’t you?

As B2B marketers increasingly struggle to reach and resonate with the right audiences in a sea of competitive noise, B2B intent data - data that identifies exactly when someone is in-market, or considering a particular solution - provides an accurate effective solution.

In short, B2B buyer intent data allows you to identify exactly if and when a B2B prospect is actively considering, or looking to purchase your product or solution, enabling informed, timely campaign decisions.

Looking in more detail, intent data is information collected about a company’s digital activity, to provide insight into their purchase intent and online research behaviour. Using insight from a range of 3rd party data sources, over time and mapped to the buyer’s journey, this insight allows sales and marketing teams to build a clear view of a target’s challenges and buying motives, topic searches, intent velocity (how active they are around that topic), and other account intelligence.

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Why Should I Consider Intent?

As only a small fraction of any potential market is in an active buying journey at any one time - particularly for high investment products, such as B2B technology solutions - without buyer intent insight, it can be hard to maximise the value of sales and marketing activity. No marketer wants to spend all of their budget targeting someone who isn’t interested, or won’t be able to purchase for a long time!

But by incorporating intent data into sales and marketing campaigns, it’s possible to pinpoint intent to purchase at exactly the right time, and target your engagement appropriately for maximum results.

Is Intent Data Really a New Thing?

Considering someone’s intent to purchase is not a new thing; actionable intent insight has existed for a while, and many larger enterprises may already incorporate intent consideration in their strategies. However, as technology has evolved, and as customers are creating and sharing more data than ever before, marketers are better equipped to gain a granular view of intent and move from ‘topic’ to ‘keyword’ insights.

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As such we can now include an additional layer of timing, relevance and context within campaigns, especially account-based campaigns. For example, the insight intent data provides can help us understand exactly where an account is in their buying journey, based on the content and keywords they’re researching. It also provides clarity on the sentiment attached to certain topics (positive or negative), giving a more comprehensive view than more traditional profiling or behavioural data.

What Makes B2B Intent Data Immediately Actionable

So how does intent data ‘work’? Where can we find it, and how can it form such an immediate, useful and actionable part of sales and marketing campaigns?

Where Does B2B Intent Data From?

There are a number of intent data platforms and services available today who can help B2B marketers understand, access and make intent actionable.

You’re probably aware that we all leave digital footprints as we move around the web - signals that reflect our interests, challenges - and often, intent to purchase a particular type of product, or interest in a similar topic. Intelligent intent platforms work by monitoring and storing such signals from across the web, ad networks and social media, to build predictive layers from billions of behaviour signals taken from thousands of locations.

When analysed together, and keeping your particular campaign focus in mind, this insight can be used to show precisely which organisations are most likely to buy from you.

Taking Action in the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMoT)

Of course, our buyers are human. And as humans, we’re not always ready to purchase a solution - even one we need, or are showing strong purchase intent around - at all times. Life gets in the way! Taking a practical look at this, you may have instances where a prime prospect seems ready to buy and is about to close - yet suddenly drops off the radar. Maybe their priorities have changed. Maybe their budgets were adjusted. Or, perhaps your contact moved role, meaning they no longer need your solution.

As there’s no linear path to purchase, and in a more competitive, noisy marketplace than ever, it’s crucial that you’re in front of the right audience, with your solution, in the exact instant they are experiencing a particular challenge. This moment is known as the 'Zero Moment of Truth' (ZMoT), and is the most relevant, resonant time to engage and take action.

Zero Moment of Truth (ZMoT)

With the real-time insight that intent data provides, marketers and sales teams gain the ability to do just that, enabling campaigns with the context, timing and relevance needed to resonate effectively.


Use Intent For Timing, Context & Relevance

With only 2-5% of any audience actively seeking to purchase at any one time, it’s no longer enough to create a campaign - and just hope.

Marketing and sales campaigns must consider Timing, Context and Relevance to resonate, and engage buyers at their Zero Moment of Truth (ZMoT).

  • With intent insight, campaigns can recognise active buyers, at the exact right moment
  • Informed by intent, campaigns can understand an account enough to engage with a relevant message, with the right context, at the right time.
  • That right time or ‘lightbulb moment’ is the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMoT)

Gain Insight Into Purchase Intent

With the advantages of intent-driven campaigns clear, let’s delve into the different types of data available.

Predictive Vs Intent Data

When looking for intent solutions, it’s easy to feel inundated by solutions and vendors, and it can be tricky to identify precisely what intent services are being offered.

As an example, it’s important to understand the difference between predictive intent, or predictive analytics, and intent data or intent monitoring platforms.

Predictive analytics, or predictive intent

Platforms tend to make use of big data to form predictions about unknown, future events. These platforms pull data from a range of sources (such as customer profiles and sales data), and use data modelling, machine learning, data mining, AI - plus historical information and more - to predict who will purchase what, and when. As such, predictive platforms rely more heavily on past events - which isn’t always a clear indicator of what will happen in the future.

Intent data, or an intent monitoring platform

however, looks at the actual online activity occurring within contacts and target accounts, rather than relying on predictive models. Tracking online activity around topics relating to a company’s services or solutions, intent monitoring platforms can help B2B outreach teams identify not only new potential prospects, but also when those prospects are actively showing signals of intent to buy, such as searching for specific keywords or downloading relevant content. As a result, intent-informed sales teams can engage those prospects, even before their intent to purchase is explicitly expressed.

Both solutions have their advantages and use cases (and some services combine both). However, for marketing and sales teams looking for real-time insight into the actual purchase intent of target accounts, the buyer intent data provided by intent monitoring solutions can be simpler (with fewer integrations), specific and immediately clear.

Different Types of Intent Data

Underneath the ‘intent data’ umbrella used by intent monitoring solutions, are two key types of data, combining to create a clear, insightful picture, and both use a blend of sources such as browser cookies and IP addresses to track online visitors.

  • First-party, or internal intent data is insight that your organisation captures via tracking on your website, and tools such as your marketing automation platform. Sometimes this insight is called engagement data, and can be a strong indicator of intent. By highlighting when a visitor looks at, or engages with your content - or by considering time on page, and topic of that page etc, it’s possible to identify interest, buyer stage and more.
  • External, or third-party data, is information collected by third party providers (typically via cookies, and at the IP level) and enables insight into intent across sites that are not your own. This provides a wider view into an account’s interest and intent across the web, and can highlight intent on particular topics and sites relevant to your campaign focus.

When combined, first and third party intent insight can create a clearer, comprehensive picture of what an account is researching, their business drivers, goals, challenges and crucially, propensity to buy.

Putting Your Insights Into Practice

Given the detailed, intricate and niche insight that intent data provides, it offers advantage across multiple areas and practical use cases, from informing campaign direction, to enabling greater personalisation. Below are some tips on how to use intent data.

Ways to Use B2B Intent Data

To Inform and Enhance ABM

Informed by intent, highly personalised, specific campaigns (such as Account-Based Marketing) gain an extra layer of precision. With intent data:

  • Sales and marketing teams can understand which target accounts are actively in-market for your solutions (and highlight accounts who are not).
  • It’s possible to prioritise engagement and resource allocation on the best-fit accounts, based on the levels of intent interest being displayed - and engage in the right moments.
  • Messaging, content and resources can be better adapted and personalised to align with the specific pain where a target account is showing intent.
Drive Sales Growth/ Reach Prospects in the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMoT)

Regardless of your particular marketing and sales approach, with an understanding of intent, sales teams can engage with an extra layer of accuracy.

Minimising wasted resource and increasing quality engagements, intent-informed teams can identify and prioritise active, good-fit leads and accounts, and focus on delivering relevant, contextual information at the exact right time, or Zero Moment of Truth.

Deliver Precise, Tailored, Personalised Messaging

Across content assets, nurture campaigns - and any engagement messaging - intent insight can inform you of your prospect’s topic interests and challenges. With this information, you can identify any messaging gaps you may have, create more tailored content and target prospects with more precision.

Greater Ad Targeting

Intent data can be used to provide an additional layer of accuracy in your ad campaigns, enabling you to deliver more accurate messaging to both known and anonymous prospects who are showing intent around your key topics.

Using Intent to Drive Revenue

Combining the above advantages - and with intent forming a considered foundation in your campaigns - a key result will be an uplift in revenue. For example; enhanced campaign personalisation and nurture, greater sales prioritisation, plus the ability to identify prospects who haven’t engaged with you yet - are all use cases that contribute to more accurate, timely engagement - and quality customer relations.

There are of course other (ever-evolving!) use cases where leveraging intent data can deliver advantages in B2B campaigns, and help you resonate with your best-fit prospects.

Activating Intent-Driven Campaigns

Using intent data platforms to drive an ‘always-on’ environment of insight into your prospects and audiences is crucial now in B2B marketing and sales - no matter what type of campaign or outreach you’re undertaking.

Activate Intent to Identify Active Buying Accounts

With intent data monitoring platforms, we now have the ability to build audience segments that not only refresh in near-real time for up-to-date, accurate audience insight, but by integrating that intent insight into marketing technology platforms (such as HubSpot, Marketo etc), we can activate, and drive ‘always-on’ value from that data across all campaign activities.

It’s in this activation - plugging intent into overarching marketing technology - that drives true value and enables a cohesive approach across all channels and campaign use cases, from advertising, to messaging, to outreach and beyond.

Of course, working with intent is a new approach for many B2B marketing and sales professionals. Here, partnering with an Account-Based Marketing Agency who know how to use intent to activate campaigns will help to de-risk and mitigate error - while fast-tracking your results and investment return.

With intent you can see 3x, 3.5x more leads that convert into sales - this is something we’ve seen across different organisations and verticals.

Jon Clarke, Cyance

How Could Intent Data Enhance Your Campaigns?

Ready to see how intent data can work for you? When considering an intent solution, it’s important to adopt a considered approach, that truly recognises your target market, to drive accurate insights and quality return.

If you would like to explore how intent can integrate into your sales and marketing approach, book an intent planning consultation call at a time and date that suits below.

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