How to Use Intent Data to Grow Pipeline

According to research from 6sense, B2B buyers buy from the first vendor they speak with 84% of the time. Buyers have already formed a short list of vendors before they make first contact, and if you’re not the first on the list, you’re only 16% likely to win that deal.

If buyers have already selected a winner before talking to a seller, how do you move to the top of the list? Intent data.

What Is Intent Data?

Intent data are digital signals from various sources that indicate an intent to buy and other active research and engagement from your prospects.

Sources are typically first-party (your website or CRM) and third-party (reviews, search, other websites, etc.), which, when combined, help you predict which companies are in the market to buy a solution like yours.

Intent data can also reveal additional insights like:

  • Identification of key decision-makers
  • Components of their tech stack
  • Search keywords
  • Competitive indicators of your prospect’s consideration set
  • And more! 

This article explores how intent data boosts your pipeline growth by enabling B2B GTM teams to identify, prioritize, and engage in-market buyers at the right time.

Identify In-Market Buyers Ready to Purchase Now

Traditionally, marketers have relied on prospects providing contact information (e.g., filling out forms, signing up for demos or product trials, or attending a webinar) to signal buying intent. But what’s missing is how far those prospects are in their buying journey. 

The sales team will typically tease out pain points, product requirements and readiness, buying timelines, and key decision-makers. 

However, 90% of B2B buyers turn to online channels as their primary method for identifying and (Read more...) new suppliers, and they won’t contact vendors until they’re 70% into the buying process.

Marketers can no longer wait for buyers to raise their hands. 

With only 10% of your potential customers in market in a given quarter, marketers must access a full spectrum of intent signals to engage prospects earlier in their buying journey.  

Intent data helps your marketing team in several powerful ways:

  • Prioritize in-market accounts who are actively researching your product or competitors
  • Allocate your time and budget efficiently
  • Engage those accounts with targeted campaigns and messages

Unpacking Intent Signals

Not all intent signals are created equal. In fact, companies are seeing success by segmenting signals into three categories: intent, need, and evidence. 

  • Intent signals indicate specific interest in solutions or active exploration of alternatives. 
  • Need signals indicate that the account recognizes the problem and is researching and/or discussing solutions. 
  • Evidence signals reveal underlying issues that are “pre-intent.” Your product can solve their need, but the prospect hasn’t found you yet. 

By distinguishing between each category of intent signal, marketers can map prospects to the right stage in the buying journey, distinguishing early-stage opportunities from late-stage opportunities. This helps marketers take the most tailored and appropriate action. 

For example, buyer engagement with certain types of content, such as peer review sites, case studies, product comparisons, and pricing guides, indicates a higher propensity to buy than a website visit. 

While many marketers use intent data to identify and prioritize outreach to in-market accounts, intent data should also be used to personalize content, messages, and offers and guide sales conversations. 

Monitor Engagement and Personalize Outreach

Just because buyers are doing research doesn’t mean they have a propensity to purchase your product anytime soon. 

According to 6sense data, each buying group member will interact with at least 15 vendors they’re considering. 

Marketers can build a picture of the buying group by piecing together the digital breadcrumbs of intent left by each member. This helps marketers understand specifically who is doing what inside each account. 

Tracking these interactions—with both first- and third-party data—allows marketers to identify in-market accounts and those that spike research and engagement. 

Furthermore, it’s important to monitor surges in research activity related to your industry, competitors, or key pain points. Then, you can prioritize accounts showing increased content consumption or search volume. 

This also allows you to engage with buyers early in their journey before they fully define their requirements or engage with competitors. 

Lastly, intent data provides insight into the specific topics and content prospects are engaging with. By analyzing content consumption data, marketing teams can:

  • Understand each account’s interests and pain points and identify the buying stage based on the type of content they consume. 
  • Personalize marketing outreach, inform messaging and ad retargeting, and customize CTAs to address the specific topics and pain points each account is researching. 
  • Nurture low-intent accounts by providing relevant content recommendations based on their interests.
  • Inform your broader content strategy and fill the content gaps creating buyer friction. 

Engaging with accounts early in their research phase builds brand awareness and trust, shapes their perception of your offering, and leads to higher conversion rates and a bigger pipeline. 

Alison Murdock, Founder & Chief Marketer, Trusted CMO

Alison Murdock is the founder and chief marketer of Trusted CMO. Trusted CMO helps early- and growth-stage companies establish foundational marketing practices to drive awareness and demand. Before founding Trusted CMO, Alison was CMO at Firstup (previously SocialChorus), the first marketing leader at 6sense, led early-stage marketing at numerous other companies in Silicon Valley and Europe. She’s a frequent speaker at SaaStock, B2B Rocks, Empowered CMO and other marketing and start-up events. She also puts her money where her mouth is and is an LP at MKT1 and an angel investor in Goldcast, Sharebird and others.

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