Here’s the mildest take of all time: there’s no sense in pitching prospects that aren’t ready to buy. A sales professional’s primary concern is knowing when to engage buyers.
That’s where intent data comes in. Instead of hoping your marketing efforts are hitting your prospects at the right time, you can use intent data to figure out where your ideal buyer is in their journey right now.
But there’s a catch: if you’re new to integrating intent data into your account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, where do you start? By learning from the experts, of course.
In our recent webinar, attendees heard Ben Salzman, SVP, Special Projects at ZoomInfo, and Robin Izsak-Tseng, VP of Revenue Marketing at G2, talk about some best practices and key considerations for crafting robust intent data strategies. If you didn’t get a chance to catch the webinar, this recap is for you.
What is intent data?
Intent data is a set of signals or data points that help identify whether an account is in the market and how far along they are in the buying journey. The value of intent data is that it removes much of the guesswork of marketing and sales campaigns.
The teams that most often work with intent data include:
Sales: The most common users will utilize this data across the sales process from prioritizing prospect outreach, to crafting relevant pitches, through to closing.
Marketing: When aligned with sales in an ABM strategy, marketing uses this data to build target audiences, inform their targeting and demand generation campaigns, influence buyers, and retain customers.
Customer success: Intent data can help inform customer success teams where current customers are experiencing challenges, build better relationships, and reduce churn.
Why is intent data more important now?
The world is experiencing turbulence and uncertainty. Inflation is impacting governments, companies, and citizens everywhere. And in markets where a possible recession is on the horizon, organizations are left to figure out where they can cut costs to harden themselves against an economic downturn.
The first things on the chopping block in these scenarios? Marketing budgets. Because of this, marketers have to lean into proven tactics and strategies.
Guesswork is an inevitable roadblock that can lead to higher costs. Intent data, however, is an excellent remedy to budget efficiency during the current economic climate.
An example of intent data
It’ll be helpful to have an example of what intent data can look like to add more context to what Ben and Robin cover. In this case, we’ll use G2 Buyer Intent signals.
The following are data points or “signals” that vendors on G2 can use to assess where customers and buyers are in the sales cycle. All this data is captured from user activity on G2 since buyers can research software in many different ways. Sellers can act on all of these signals, segmenting appropriately.
G2 Profile Visits: When buyers visit a software vendor’s G2 product profile page.
Sponsored Content Visits: When buyers visit a competitor’s page displaying sponsored content.
Category Page Visits: When buyers browse a specific software category page on G2.
Competitor Page Visits: When buyers run a comparison between one or several different software vendors.
Alternative Page Visits: When buyers examine alternative comparisons for a given software vendor.
Now, let’s get to the juicy bits of the webinar you came here for.
To kick things off, the hosts asked attendees to answer a quick poll. Here’s what they said about their top challenges when using intent data to improve B2B marketing efforts.
Creating a strategy around the use of intent data (68.2%)
Measuring impact (38.6%)
Verifying the accuracy of intent signals/insights (31.8%)
How to act on intent signals/insights (31.8%)
Overwhelmingly, the audience said that just crafting their intent data strategy was their most common roadblock. Data is great, but organizations will fail if they don’t have a rigorous and thought-out plan.
Intent data tips from the pros
There’s good news if you share similar struggles. Ben and Robin have a ton of great insights that can help any organization craft a world-class intent data strategy.
Build out an exhaustive playbook backlog
In talking with many companies, Ben notices a common trend. Most companies don't regularly audit and document many finer details when it comes to their playbook for intent signals.
Ben went on to say that companies need to understand things like:
What channel(s) a play runs on
What are the inputs and attributes that power specific actions
What is the lift from sales/ops perspective
What are the key pieces of metadata; are they evergreen or one-time
In addition to these considerations, it’s critical to incorporate and define which intent signal is core to a given play. Greater visibility into their playbook can help organizations better grasp the value of their intent data and provide opportunities to optimize existing initiatives.
Don’t view signals as one-dimensional
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with data. But you shouldn’t maintain a laser focus on a handful of data points.
And yes, some metrics will have higher priority than others. Knowing when a prospect visits your G2 profile is probably more valuable than viewing sponsored content. Instead of looking at these two signals separately, Ben suggests that you try to think about them in a complementary way.
Additionally, intent signals are powerful indicators on their own. But it’s in combination with other information that you can take even more precise action. Each intent signal can have drastically different implications, like knowing whether they’re existing customers or prospects.
The best thing you can do is get as much data flowing into your systems and databases as possible. You’ll need a comprehensive strategy to understand how to evaluate this mound of data – but it’s always better to have an abundance than not enough.
Build a strategy for each signal type
We know that Google Search is fantastic for capturing awareness by creating content to match informational queries. But there’s a good chance you wouldn’t try to serve a sales-qualified lead top-of-funnel content if they’re much further along in their journey.
Leveraging intent data should never use a one-size-fits-all approach, especially if you can access specific insights about your buyers. When you know where they are in the sales cycle, you should know how to engage them at that precise moment.
In terms of what this would look like with G2 Buyer Intent, let’s examine why it’s important to differentiate two seemingly similar signals.
Competitor Page Visits: For new prospects, visiting a competitor page on G2 often implies that they’re still in the research phase. This is a perfect opportunity to target them with messaging and content that makes direct competitor comparisons and advocates for your offering as the superior choice.
Alternative Page Visits: Existing customers visiting an alternative page for your software are likely at high risk for churn. The best course of action is to have customer success engage the customer and identify issues to resolve.
You might think you could treat two intent signals similarly, but this isn’t the case. It’s important to consider whether they’re prospects or current customers.
However, you’ll have far better results by using all the information available to craft your message and actions accordingly since each intent signal is unique. Leveraging integrations once you have a clear playbook will help to streamline and automate triggered actions that you define.
Lastly, Ben and Robin also have strong feelings about identifying people on your team to manage each signal. Whether that’s one person or multiple owners, it can be crucial to establish your overall strategy behind intent-driven efforts.
Use intent data as a guiding principle for long-term planning
A common theme throughout the webinar from both Ben and Robin was how intent data is more than a transactional one-off. The two hosts suggest that intent data has ongoing value in the long-term for more than just acquiring new accounts.
Companies can use intent data to inform their audience targeting over several quarters or years. It’ll require a lot of effort and planning sessions to document how to process such a large volume of raw data, but the result will be worth it.
Working with data science teams and other technical stakeholders is essential to power a go-to-market model that allows targeting criteria to adapt over time.
Create a workflow for high-intent matches
Let’s say that your sales team has identified a target account whose intent data suggests they’re a strong match. Without knowing exactly what should happen next, you’ll end up squandering more opportunities than landing them if you don’t act quickly.
Although this seems common sense, Ben sees this as another concept around intent data that many companies don’t have.
It’s essential to define which signal or combination of signals identifies a company as a high-intent match. Once this is in place and you start evaluating opportunities, having that automatic workflow is crucial for rapid outreach.
Get the timing just right
Intent data is an immensely powerful tool that can supercharge your sales and marketing teams to be more efficient in engaging your buyers at precise moments.
We were able to pack in a ton from this webinar, but here are three key concepts you’ll want to hold onto if you’re thinking about maximizing the value of your intent-driven campaigns.
Intent data is a long game: Rather than thinking about intent data as a one-off activity, it has much more potential. Think about how you can use intent signals to inform your targeting, and incorporate them throughout your sales cycle.
Always align signals with messaging: Signals imply different things about your buyers. For the best chance at success, ensure your messaging, content, and personas are mapped to the appropriate signal.
Organizations big and small can harness intent data: No matter where your company sits in its maturity model or level of sophistication, intent data can be a gamechanger. Intent data can help you craft the right messaging to win target accounts, even if you’re a smaller player.
Stephen Hoops is a Sr. Content Marketing Specialist at G2. He focuses on creating content that helps tech industry sales professionals and B2B SaaS marketers find success with G2 products such as Buyer Intent, Review Generation, and more. After receiving his B.A. in Journalism from West Virginia University in 2013, he has helped countless B2B brands reach new highs through content creation and SEO. When not nerding out about the artistry behind well-written copy, Stephen can be found info-dumping about homemade cocktails, Italian cuisine, and why vinyl is the superior physical medium for music.
Engage prospects at the right moment.
See why leading software brands depend on G2 Buyer Intent data to reach buyers with perfect timing.