The Complete Guide to Intent Data in 2022

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As digital technologies become more advanced and customers increasingly demand products and services that are personalized to their preferences, B2B marketers have found it difficult to craft marketing campaigns that are specifically tailored to those potential buyers.

Success in today’s digital economy is defined by speed, innovation and personalization, but that can be hard for marketers relying on outdated forms of data collection.

That’s where buyer intent data comes in.

What is intent data and why is it important?

Intent data refers to the information generated by an individuals’ online activity that helps marketers determine whether that user is interested in buying a product. Although intent data is becoming critical to digital marketing success, less than 50% of companies have a well-defined intent data strategy, according to one study from Intentsify.

While there are a number of different intent signals that marketers can use to identify buyer intent, some of the most common include:

1. The type of content consumed

Accounts give you a substantial amount of information based solely on the type and subject matter of the content they’re consuming. Those that are reading blogs covering the basics of artificial intelligence, for example, probably aren’t considering purchasing AI-powered CRM software for their business.

If they’ve consumed a buyer’s guide on the best AI-powered CRM features, a white paper on the latest developments in AI-powered technology, and two case studies about a specific CRM platform, you can safely assume they’re gathering information with a view to making a purchasing decision.

2. The volume (and frequency) of research

Everyone has different research habits. Some people make research a part of their daily routine, whether because their industry is constantly changing and demands it or they simply want to stay abreast of the latest trends and developments. Others conduct deep research only when they’re in the market for a new product.

Either way, buyer intent data helps you track the research behavior of different accounts, enabling you to identify when there is a spike in research volume, which could indicate that a purchase journey has been initiated.

3. The context of the account

Even if you’ve nailed down research data, you need to consider that everyone does research for different reasons. Understanding account context can help. Junior staff might be tasked with conducting research for an internal project, with no intent — or power — to make a purchasing decision. Chasing a spike in research volume from these accounts is likely not worth your time or resources.

On the other hand, if senior-level decision makers are undertaking an unusual amount of research (and displaying other intent signals, for that matter), it’s much more likely that their internal buying committee is considering making a purchase in the near future.

4. They’ve told you they want to make a purchase

Some accounts make it obvious that they’re in the market for a product. They might email your sales team directly to begin a conversation, request a sales demo or free trial, or fill out a contact form to get more information. These accounts are almost certainly considering making a purchase.

While these intent signals are usually the hardest to acquire — and tend to be considered the gold standard for B2B marketers — they’re the surest way to know that users can be pursued as prospective buyers.

What is the purpose of intent data? Simply put, intent data gives you the most accurate information possible about the accounts that are most likely in the market for the product or service you provide. You can use it to enhance your account-based marketing strategies by creating more tailored marketing messages that are geared directly and specifically toward those accounts who’ve displayed interest.

The benefits of leveraging intent data

Intent data is a critical part of account-based marketing (ABM) efforts because it gives B2B marketers the information they need to pinpoint their target accounts and generate more qualified leads for their sales team. The main benefits of using intent data are:

  • Identify markets you didn’t know existed: Traditional forms of marketing are often based on outdated information or merely intuition. The result? Marketers end up targeting the wrong audiences (and completely missing the right ones). Intent data gives you a much better and more accurate understanding of your target accounts, helping you identify prospective buyers you might have missed relying on traditional methods.
  • Target individuals at the start of the buyer journey: It pays to be the first one to reach out to potential buyers. Analyzing intent signals helps you identify target accounts earlier in the buyer journey, allowing you to get in front of a new prospect right when they’re beginning to search the market. This gives you a major advantage over your competitors that translates into real value for your sales teams.
  • Fine-tune your marketing campaigns: Intent data doesn’t just help you identify target audiences; it also helps you better understand the type of content potential customers are consuming. This is key because you can use it to create new assets that answer the questions users are asking and offer the specific solutions they need. Embed that content into well-timed email campaigns and deliver accounts the value they need right when they need it.
  • Save time, money and resources: Ultimately, the combination of the above benefits helps you get more value from your marketing campaigns, enabling you to enhance your lead generation strategies and more efficiently drive more business to your sales teams. Doing so helps you save time, money and resources on your marketing efforts, giving you more resources to devote to other areas of your business (or other marketing campaigns).

The different types of intent data

Intent data type is characterized by the organization that collects the initial data. The three main types of intent data include:

  • First-party intent data: This refers to intent data that is gathered through your own website and other online property, such as email campaigns and social media posts. While first-party data is the most cost effective, you are limited to the accounts that have interacted directly with your webpages and assets, leaving you without information about the prospective customers who simply haven’t discovered your business yet.
  • Second-party intent data: Some organizations, like content syndication providers, house large libraries of content assets that enable them to gather and analyze information about the consumption patterns of their accounts. These organizations might sell that data to marketers at other companies, augmenting their first-party data with a broader set of intent data sources.
  • Third-party intent data: Some companies gather data from third-party websites and sell that information to B2B marketers (for example, gathering intent data from the bidstream). Third-party data is one of the most effective and comprehensive ways to gather information about potential buyers. In fact, Gartner shows that prospective buyers spend about 50% of their research time gathering information from third-party sources. Accessing that data enables the marketing team to cast a much wider net and learn about prospects, users and accounts across a more complete range of online platforms.

Marketers should consider carefully which of the above types of intent data make the most sense for their B2B marketing needs. The right intent data depends largely on your budget, potential customer base and capacity for collecting data in-house.

Gathering intent data

It’s relatively simple to collect first-party data. Many marketers simply install an analytics tool like Google Analytics to track online user activity and gather actionable insights from that data. Using these methods, marketers can learn about the amount of time users are spending on their site, the pages they are visiting, the content they’re consuming, and the amount of time they spend on each. Second-party data is gathered using many of the same methods as first-party data.

Third-party data is a different story. Companies that gather this type of intent data are usually built for purpose, meaning they have more sophisticated methods of gathering data from online sources. Most of them rely on either independent websites, publisher co-ops or the bidstream to gather intent data:

  • Independent websites: Some websites gather their own first-party data and then sell that data to third parties, who then sell access to marketers in the form of third-party data.
  • Publisher co-ops: Multiple websites form a mutually beneficial co-op to share data, giving all participants a much wider range of intent data.
  • Bidstream: Third parties gather bidding information from users on ad auction sites and then sell that information to marketing teams.

Third-party data has become a central part of most marketers’ strategies. Research from Gartner shows that by the end of 2022, more than 70% of B2B marketers will be leveraging third-party data to target prospects. Most third-party data providers, however, rely on one of the above data collection methods, limiting their reach and therefore the impact that data can have for customers.

That’s where CONTENTgine comes in.

We manage a content database consisting of hundreds of thousands of assets, covering white papers, case studies and more. Our methodology gathers and analyzes an enormous volume of data from that content, giving marketers across numerous industries critical audience, page and other user engagement information.

When businesses work with CONTENTgine, they’re able to gather the most in-depth intent data currently available, which they can use to craft compelling ABM campaigns that drive better lead generation for their sales teams.

Reach out to see how CONTENTgine can help transform your marketing efforts.