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6th September 2023

High-quality B2B intent data is like gold dust to marketers, and can be used in multiple ways to enhance your marketing strategy.

Intent data comprises hundreds of buying signals – like lots of tiny digital breadcrumbs – that your potential leads are dropping all over the internet as they browse.

Intent data targeting is all about leveraging those digital breadcrumbs to find out more about your future customers, and refining your lead generation approach as you go.

In this blog, we'll cover: 

  • What is intent data?
  • How to use intent data.
  • 5 B2B intent data strategies for technology marketers.

Why Has Intent Data Grown In Popularity? 

That’s a good question, but before we answer it, let’s cover this one: What is intent data? 

B2B intent data gives you information about potential prospects' behavior and the buying signals they're giving off.

Demographic information might give you a broad overview of who your leads are, but that only gets you so far. Intent data can show you what topics they're researching, what products they're looking at, and indicate what they're about to spend money on. 

Intent data marketing has grown in popularity because of the 'self-service' method of B2B buying. According to TrustRadius, 100% of B2B buyers want to self-serve all or part of the buying journey. 

Gone are the days when your sales rep could command a decent portion of your potential client's time: leads now do most of their research themselves, with only 5% of the buying journey being given to a sales rep, according to Gartner

That means you have to capture their interest earlier on. By knowing what actions they're taking towards a purchase, you can ensure you're meeting their research needs and positioning your brand so they’ll notice you. 

100% of buyers want to self-serve all or part of the buying journey (TrustRadius).

Headley Media colleagues in a meeting

First Party Intent Data vs. Third Party Intent Data 

First Party Intent Data

To start with, first party intent data is all the data collected by you via your own channels: such as your website, email marketing, and social media.

If you work with an external intent data provider,  the more reputable suppliers will also be able to provide you with first party intent data, collected via their own channels.

First Party Intent Data Example

For example, Headley Media collects 1st party intent data across our six technology brands.

Combined, our brands make up over 250 content library websites, each serving their relevant technology audiences.

We track content consumption across our websites to create first party intent data. This first party intent data is then used by our technology clients to enhance their content syndication lead generation campaigns.

First party intent data includes:

  • Website pages browsed
  • Emails opened
  • Forms filled and profiling questions answered 
  • Keywords searched for
  • Social media posts engagements

Third Party Intent Data

Third party intent data, on the other hand, is harvested from across a wider range of websites.

3rd party intent data providers track your potential leads across the digital landscape, giving you a wealth of insightful data.

Third party intent data tracking examples include:

  • Website pages your potential prospects are visiting, including views on your competitor's websites.
  • Views and engagements on your adverts on other websites, such as B2B display ads, or social media platforms.
  • Reviews and case studies read about your products and related products, for example on review websites such as Capterra and G2. 

If that sounds like a bit of a privacy minefield to you, it certainly can be.

You need to be very careful when choosing a 3rd party intent data supplier, because of data privacy laws such as GDPR. Lots of 3rd party data comes from marketing cookies or something called the 'bidstream', which can violate these laws. Plus, third party marketing cookies are set to be phased out in the near future by Google (although the timeline for this change does keep changing!)

With that in mind, it's important to work with intent data suppliers you can trust and where possible, B2B intent suppliers who generate their own first party intent data.

At Headley Media, we validate and enhance our 1st party intent data using Bombora's 3rd party intent data. Bombora uses a data co-op of digital B2B publishers to ensure all data collection is compliant and transparent. It also anonymizes its data for user privacy, so the data it delivers is associated with businesses, not individuals.

Headley Media colleague working at a desk

How to Use Intent Data 

So now you know the options for collecting B2B intent data on your leads, how do you actually use it? 

We see clients leveraging purchase intent data very effectively in these key ways: 

#1 More refined targeting - Focusing on those leads that have a genuine interest in the product. 

#2 Creating relevant content - Ensuring published case studies, whitepapers, reports, eBooks etc. will fit the needs of future leads. 

#3 Segment and nurturing leads - Using intent knowledge to warm them up towards a purchase.

To do all this, we recommend you implement a lead scoring system.

This can be a relatively simple spreadsheet, with all your leads' information and behaviors assigned a numerical score based on how likely an indicator that behavior is that they're ready to buy. 

Your lead scoring can include B2B intent data, such as how many times they've visited your website - even certain pages of your website, such as product and pricing pages – or how many times they've engaged with a post on LinkedIn. 

The list of potential buyer intent data to track is very long. We love HubSpot's free Lead Scoring Calculator, which covers most of them. 

You can also drill more deeply into your intent data to find out what parts of your content are making your leads tick. 

For example, does the data reveal any industry trends? Are potential customers searching for information on a certain aspect of your product – and if so, can you use that to produce more relevant content, which will get even more hits from potential leads? 

Top 5 Intent Data Strategies to Implement.

Here are our favorite B2B intent data strategies to make your lead generation more efficient and targeted. 

1. Find Out What Else Your New Leads Are Looking At

Let's assume, for the purpose of this blog, that you're using content syndication for your lead generation. 

This means a 3rd party lead generation supplier is publishing and distributing your content on their own content syndication platforms and websites for the benefit of their readers, who become your new leads. 

A good lead generation provider will track each of their readers across their content libraries, and be able to track every piece of content they download. They can then provide that information to you as intent data, telling you what your lead is interested in. 

At Headley Media, we collect first party intent data via our six brands spanning 265 content library websites.

We track intent data for each of your leads across all of those websites, meaning we can give you a clear picture of what they’ve been researching.  

Headley Media colleague on the phone

2. Get Personal With ABM Intent Data 

Once you start using B2B intent data to know what your leads are looking at, you can personalize the way you approach them. 

Intent data targeting is perfect for Account-Based Marketing (ABM), when the name of the game is quality not quantity.

Within ABM, you start with a smaller list of potential clients and tailor your marketing campaigns and messaging to them. 

Accessing strong buyer intent data on your ABM leads means you can better tailor your messaging, ensuring your leads are more receptive to it when they're in-market

3. Use Purchase Intent Data to Upsell

Did you know that retaining an existing customer is 5-25 times less expensive than getting a new one, according to the Harvard Business Review?

It makes sound financial sense to treat your existing customers as leads and continue your B2B intent data marketing strategies to find out which of your other products they might need. 

You can also spot when your customers are looking at other providers, and offer them deals to win them back before they leave you for someone else. 

Headley Media colleague on tablet

4. Use Intent Data to Build Your Ideal Customer Profile 

When you're starting a lead generation campaign, it helps to know who your ideal customer is. 

You can use intent data and B2B intent data providers to build up your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), working out your potential leads' pain points so that you're more likely to hit them with well-targeted, well-timed, and relevant messaging. 

5. Use Intent Data to Build a Demand Generation Strategy 

In a similar way, you can use B2B buyer intent data to figure out what kind of content your audience wants to see for demand generation and content marketing. 

For example, if lots of your leads have been looking for information on a certain industry topic, you can factor that into your wider marketing strategy. For example you may choose to create a new piece of content on that topic, or discuss it on your company's LinkedIn profile.

B2B Intent Data Providers 

How do you find the best intent data providers and buyer intent data tools? 

Firstly, you should do your own research to vet potential suppliers. Many demand and lead generation suppliers offer intent data targeting within their B2B marketing services. However, just like any lead generation supplier, a B2B intent data provider should be able to answer all of the questions in our Quality Lead Generation Checklist, assuring you that they are a legit provider and that the data they give you will be genuine, up-to-date, and quality-checked. 

If you want to find a B2B intent data provider or software you can use post-lead generation, you can check against this list from TrustRadius: you'll notice our 3rd party intent data partner Bombora is #1. 

 Explore Headley Media's B2B intent data services to find out how we can help you grow your marketing and sales pipeline.