Harness Intent Data to Punch Up Your B2B Marketing
These days, sales people have a more difficult job than ever because buyers have generally made up their minds about what they want to purchase before they ever speak to a salesperson. That’s just as true in B2B sales as it is in B2C sales. But while B2C markets long ago figured out how to harness the value of intent data to punch up sales and give their campaigns everlasting life, B2B marketers are just now learning how to wring marketing value out of intent data.
What is intent data? It tells you what purchases your customers are considering and what they might be planning to do next. B2C marketers use intent data to gain insight into the behaviors and potential purchasing decisions of individual consumers, but B2B marketers can use it to gain that same level of insight into the behaviors of corporate customers. Let’s take a look at what intent data is and how you can apply it to your B2B marketing campaigns.
Understanding Intent Data and Its Value to Marketers
Most B2B marketers are focusing on account-based marketing, or ABM. That’s possible because of the wealth of data that’s available to marketers. As the internet and digital technologies become more and more central to our everyday lives, people and corporations create more and more data — at an average rate of 2.5 quintillion bytes a day. This massive amount of data is a goldmine for customer intention.
B2C and B2B marketers do use intent data differently. When individual consumers visit online retailers, look at specific product listings on Amazon, post about products or activities on social media, watch certain videos or read certain articles or books, B2C marketers can make inferences about what purchases they may make in the future.
But corporate buyers don’t put 1,500 new MacBook pros into an online shopping cart and then leave them there while they mull over the decision. Nor are corporate purchasing decisions usually the province of a single employee. They’re typically made by committee, but they often share one crucial similarity with consumer purchasing decisions: They’re typically already made by the time the customer speaks to the sales representative.
That’s why intent data is so valuable. B2B intent data allows sales representatives to step in during the decision-making process — and influence it. Intent data can signal when corporate customers are considering a purchase and what purchases they’re considering. It can also allow you to triangulate the company, individual and role, so you can send coherent sales messages to the right people at the right times.
How to Use Intent Data in Your B2B Marketing Campaigns
Before you can use intent data in your B2B marketing campaigns, you have to gather it. You can follow these steps to gather the data you need:
- Use sources like 6Sense or Bombora to obtain intent data relevant to specific search terms. These sources will tell you what companies in what locations are searching the terms relevant to your campaign.
- Figure out who initiated those searches at the company or companies you’re targeting, and then look for those people in your marketing database.
- Use sources like DiscoverOrg or LinkedIn to develop other contacts at the company.
- Target these individuals with social content, emails, digital ads and other campaign elements relevant to the search data you found.
- Don’t procrastinate contacting those who engage. Make contact while the intent is still fresh — within one to two weeks.
The person or people you make contact with may not have the power to make the ultimate purchasing decision, but they may still have influence. Keep in mind that you want to identify and reach out to people who haven’t yet taken overt steps toward making a purchasing decision. You don’t want to creep your potential contacts out, either; be careful not to make it sound like you’ve been stalking people online. “We noticed you were interested” is a better way to phrase things than “I noticed you were searching for” — unless, perhaps, your audience is tech-savvy and potentially uses intent data themselves.
If you’re not using intent data in your B2B marketing campaigns, you’re missing out on a valuable resource that can significantly improve the effectiveness of your strategy. Intent data gives you the chance to speak to customers before they make purchasing decisions, so you can influence those decisions and offer solutions to your customers’ problems at the same time.