The Definitive Guide to Activating Intent Data: How to Generate and Nurture Relevant Leads

The Definitive Guide to Activating Intent Data: How to Generate and Nurture Relevant Leads

Eighty-one percent of marketers predict that the majority of their decisions will be data-driven by the end of this year. Big data drives marketing strategies in every industry.  But with big data flooding in every day, marketers are still learning how to make sense of it all and use it in the cleanest and most productive ways.

The data you work with should help you refine your targeting strategies and develop actionable insights for your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Ideally, it connects you with customers who are ready to purchase your solution and prepares you for what to do when you meet them.

Enter Intent Data. Intent Data provides high-quality information about buyers and accounts already in the buyer’s journey. Sales Hacker* magazine calls Intent Data one of the “hottest topics in the B2B sales and marketing space.”

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contact level intent

Intent Data: What is it?

Your potential buyers are out there right now searching for products and services you provide.

They’re consuming content and speaking with competitive representatives. Intent Data captures the information of target customers who are already inching their way through the buyer’s journey. Exactly what information Intent Data provides you depends on the source. 

“Intent Data at its core helps predict the likelihood of an organization being in-market for a specific solution at a given time.”

Tukan Das, CEO of LeadSift

Businesses can track B2B Buying Intent across multiple different sources both online and offline. Software vendors rely on three sources of intent.

First-Party Intent

Picked up from your owned digital properties. First-party intent includes website visits, asset downloads, email engagements, product usage. First-party Intent Data could live in HubSpot or through visitor id companies like Lead Forensics. This data includes: contact name, company, job title, email, and phone number.

Second-Party Intent

Second-party Intent Data is when a company sells their first-party data. They collect information on their users and then package it for other companies to buy. G2Crowd and Tech Target are examples of second-party Intent Data providers. This data includes: contact name, company, job title, email, and phone number.

Third-Party Intent

Third-party data is intelligence mined from up-to millions of sources, websites, publisher networks, public forums, SEC filings, data co-ops, Ad networks, social networks, etc. The data collected isn’t specific. Usually this data includes only the knowledge that someone at a company has engaged with specific content, it’s up to you to guess who.

LeadSift’s Third-Party Intent

At LeadSift we take a fundamentally different approach in identifying Intent signals. We crawl and mine the public web and provide you with detailed contact level signals. Our team will tell you a contact’s name, company, job title, email, Linkedin profile URL, phone number, what tools they/their company uses, what intent signal they showed and what keyword that might be associated with, and more. [4] 

We know B2B buying behavior is extremely complex so we cross-reference intelligence from multiple-sources to infer Buying Intent. It goes way beyond just content consumption on the Internet, some of the strongest Intent signals are actually latent or indirect. If we notice a company hires a new Director of Culture, that might be a signal of intent for an employee engagement company. Or if we learn from a SEC filing or podcast recording that a company is going to double down on IT security and compliance for next year, that could be a good indicator for a cyber security company. [5] [MOU6] 

“Intent Data is a far more cost-effective resource for us to prospect and get in front of organizations that could well be in the market for a solution like ours, much more efficient than spending on PPC.”

– Mark Flaherty, CMO at InetSoft

Getting the Most Out of Your Intent Data

Making Intent Data actionable, measuring success, and developing appropriate programs are the top challenges B2B marketers face, according to TOPO’s Eric Wittlake [reference]. Treating Intent Data leads the same as every other lead is a mistake. Ask yourself how you can use these insights to supplement what you’re already doing to make your strategies more effective.


Leverage Intent Data for a competitive advantage in campaigns like ad buys and email nurtures. With Intent Data, you don’t have to wait for potential buyers to visit your site and give up their contact information before generating a lead.

Intent Data provides you with information about companies and the contacts within companies who are already actively searching for solutions, engaging with relevant content, and moving through the buyer’s journey across the entire web. Intent Data provides a whole picture of buyers including what they care about, the languages they speak, how they prefer to receive information, and what prompts them to act or buy. Then you reach out at the perfect time with the content and solutions they’re seeking.

Intent Data revolutionizes marketing strategies like inbound marketing because you’re moving from a place of reactivity to joining your target customers when and where they are on the buyer journey.

Actionable Marketing Strategies:

  • Custom ad audiences: Use contact-level Intent Data for more targeted and efficient ad strategies by creating custom audiences and target leads already in the buyer’s journey. On average, a person needs 7 impressions to make a buying decision. Intent Data shows you prospects who have already had a few impressions. You can then step in when the lead is warmer and have a higher chance of getting in the door.
  • Content strategy: Use Intent Data to see what your ICP is actively engaging with so you can tailor your content marketing to topics your target audience cares about.
  • Marketing nurturing: Segment and customize marketing nurture by intent signal and keyword for more meaningful and personal marketing touches. By the time a prospect reads your message, they’ll feel like you’re speaking directly to them – which you are.


Use Intent Data to supplement lead scoring models, prioritize sales leads, and improve personalization. Your current scoring models rely on user behavior on your own website, third-party data will arm sales representatives with a more accurate score of prospects. Then, they target leads early in the buyer journey and personalize the prospect’s experience based on their behavioral intent.

Actionable Sales Strategies:

One of the biggest difficulties in outbound prospecting is targeting people and companies who have active initiatives related to our solution. The sales intelligence provided by LeadSift helps solve this problem since the prospects they deliver are engaging with industry content. This gives confidence to our SDR team that their messaging will resonate with LeadSift prospects, and confidence to our Account Execs that this company has a need Looker satisfies and represents a viable sales opportunity.”

Kyle Coleman, VP of Revenue and Growth at Clari (ex-Director of Sales Development at Looker)
  • Personalized solutions pitches: Use Intent signals to create personalized outreach based on the terms, competitors, events, and content that a prospect is engaging with. This helps boost conversions because your outreach is tailored to what the prospect cares about and isn’t just a generic sales email. 
  • Prioritized leads: Focus on the warmest, most relevant leads to close sales more quickly. Since these leads typically fit your ICP and are showing interest in purchasing, you know they should be reached out to first. Most Intent Data providers also offer lead scoring models based on levels of intent.
  • Segmentation: Match prospects intent information with the right sales rep to ensure they have the best chance of conversion. Knowing what they’re looking for as well their personal interests allows you to match them with most qualified sales representatives.

“We were able to scale MQL and appointments from outbound as a channel within the first month of being users. The added firepower has been a significant contributor to growth and ROI was almost instant.”

– Lance Muranaga, VP Marketing Abacus Agency

Customer Success

According to Gartner*, 80% of a company’s future profits come from 20% of its existing customers. 

Creating a positive customer experience is critical to your future growth. Use Intent Data to help customers address pain points and get the most out of your product. This ensures their loyalty, reduces churn risk, and identifies customers that would welcome an upsell or cross-sell.

“Finding intent-driven undiscovered leads. The data was strong. In more than one scenario we found current clients who were researching potential competitors. This allowed us to connect with them in a timely manner from a customer relationship-building perspective. Which opened doors for upselling.

– Customer quote on G2

Actionable Customer Success Strategies:

  • Reduce churn risk: Identify when current customers are engaging with competitors. Intent Data provides an early warning system to alert you to existing clients that are looking at other options to your products and services so you can step in and formulate a strategy to keep them.
  • Identify upsell opportunities: Intent Data gives you a window into which offerings or expanded versions of your solutions that customers are engaging with. When you can make customers happy by identifying their needs and providing services they can use, you can upsell or cross-sell them on

McKinsey* noted in one survey that “happy customers are also willing to add services or upgrade their existing package.”

Custom Report

activating intent data ebook

Get Started

Step 1

Define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Who do you want to sell to? Once you define that, then you can use intel data to determine what leads are relevant to your ICP.

Step 2

Audit your internal scoring criteria to determine which criteria triggers specific actions. Your marketing and sales teams should agree on lead definitions and the prospect journey.  Otherwise, you’re at risk of losing the bulk of your prospects, according to Industrial Marketing Today. Marketing usually focuses on website engagement, social media interactions, content engagement, and similar behaviors. Sales focuses on company size, industry classification and other demographics. You have to join forces and resources.

The following lead criteria are widely used:

  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): A MQL lead has been identified as more likely to become a customer based on their engagement with your content, including visiting your website or downloading resources. They’ve expressed interest, but they aren’t ready to buy yet.
  • Sales Accepted Lead (SAL): A SAL is ready to be handed off from marketing to sales. We know this because they have engaged with content in a predefined way as well as fit industry, company size, job title, etc. to be a fit for the sales process. They are ready to move to the next stage in the sales funnel. The sales team will do more research and look at more data.
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): A lead that is ready to talk to a sales rep. An SQL has shown purchasing interest in the solution you offer. The goal is to complete the sale

Step 3

Develop specific content for each stage of the funnel. This could be segmented by persona, industry, geography, company size, or intent signal.

Step 4

Extract the core topic themes from each stage. Use this information to set up your intent triggers.

Step 5

Gather actionable insights and craft your campaigns to match, including email, ads, and SDR outreach.

Measuring Effectiveness

As with any marketing and sales strategy, it’s important to track how well Intent Data is working. Use the following metrics to continue adapting your strategies.

  • An increase in qualified leads
  • Higher close rates
  • Shorter sales cycle
  • Increased revenue per new customer
  • Improved pipeline velocity: Number of SQLs X current close rate X average revenue per new customer / total sales cycle days. Increasing your pipeline velocity is one of the secrets of revenue growth.

Intent Data in Practice

“Intent marketing is the life-changing magic of giving people what they want.”

– Wordstream

Intent Data helps you understand your prospects better so that, suddenly, an account you would have otherwise ignored comes front and center to your attention. Consider these segments of prospects and how Intent Data helps you use your resources and efforts more effectively.

  • Company A DOES have the pain points you solve for, and they ARE aware of your solutions A high intent and high account score
  • Company B DOES have the pain points you solve for, and they ARE NOT aware of your solutions. A high intent and low account score
  • Prospect C DOES NOT have the pain points you solve for, and they ARE aware of your solutions. A low intent and high account score
  • Prospect D DOES NOT have the pain points you solve for, and they ARE NOT aware of your solutions. A low intent and low account score

With Intent Data in the picture, you don’t treat these accounts the same. Prospect D scores low in intent and account, and it’s not likely they need your services right now. Divert resources going towards Prospect D and put them to prospects who are farther along in their journey.  

With first-party data, you know that over 90 days, only three people from Company A engaged with your site resources and shared their contact information. You would mark Company A’s representatives as  “lower intent” and low priority, and you’d likely move your marketing resources elsewhere.

Second-party data provides a window into Company A’s behavior off your site. Company A is visiting your competitors on a regular basis and probably is in need of your solutions, they just aren’t aware of you. Second-party Intent Data scores this lead with “high intent” and worthy of a sales development representative’s (SDR) attention. In this case, you’d reach out to Company A with the segmented resources you’ve prepared and, hopefully, turn a prospect into a client.

Success happens when you get the right person at the right time at the right level of pain. Intent marketing makes that possible.

Custom Report

contact level intent

The Power of Segmentation and Nurturing

Intent Data’s ability to effect segmentation and nurturing can have a major impact on your results. This is a client success story from LeadSift’s customer pool.

As part of their global marketing strategy, a leading content marketing software company organizes local events for brand marketers. They run email nurture sequences to invite marketers at target accounts, but the database they rely on is static and often outdated. It has trouble tracking a dynamic workforce where people change jobs and roles a lot and the team felt they were missing out on prospects.

They tested a new approach by reaching out to a highly engaged group of marketers in San Francisco and New York. To accomplish this, they used LeadSift’s Intent Data tool. They identified a group of marketers that had engaged with a competitor or industry content within the past month. They then uploaded the target audience into a Market Nurture sequence to invite them to the event.

The company observed an open rate of 42% and a click rate of 37.9% for their nurture email sequence‑ a 30X lift in the email engagement rate. “Using LeadSift intent to build an audience and run nurture campaigns has been a game-changer for us,” said the company’s Marketing Operations Manager. “We now encourage our entire sales organization to leverage LeadSift for their sales efforts. LeadSift is one of our competitive advantages, and we don’t want our competitors to find out.”

Harness Intent Data to Boost Your Existing Technology

When integrated into your existing technology, Intent Data can provide tens of thousands of leads that generate sales. Below is another LeadSift client success story.

When a Senior Manager of Marketing Programs joined her new employer, they already had LeadSift. Her first tasks included: putting a codified demand generation strategy in place and implementing automated marketing programs that aligned with the sales team. To accomplish these goals, it was key that she had quality data and a healthy influx of new contact intent signals.

She started by automating workflows with Intent Signals pushing directly into their marketing automation system (Marketo) and syncing with Salesforce CRM. This leverages Intent Signals for both their Sales and Marketing efforts at scale. During the nurture period, leads are excluded from any other outreach. But once they engage with a content piece or request a free trial, the intent trigger routes the lead to the right team in Salesforce. The team follows up and begins prospecting.

In twelve months, LeadSift provided their client with more than 25,000 new contacts, contacts they could have otherwise missed. LeadSift provides a constant stream to feed their demand generation efforts that eventually end up in successful sales.

“As our primary source of new leads and database growth, LeadSift is a must-have for our marketing tech stack. Not only does it provide leads that are showing intent for our products, but it does so at a great value.”

Key Takeaways

Only 25%* of B2B companies are currently using Intent Data. That means most of your competitors are in the 75% who aren’t. Get your competitive edge by integrating Intent Data into your current marketing, sales, and customer service strategies. As you do, keep these key points in mind.

  • Intent Data leads are not the same as every other lead. 
  • Intent Data gives you valuable context about buyers you previously had no insight into.
  • Develop an efficient process for actioning Intent Data to avoid wasting valuable insights.
  • Use Intent Data to supplement what you are already doing to make it more effective.

Request a free demo from LeadSift for a custom report of leads searching for your solutions.


81% of marketers: https://www.gartner.com/doc/3883171/marketing-data-analytics-survey-

TOPO Intent Data struggles: https://blog.topohq.com/intent-data-has-emerged-as-a-fast-growing-data-category/

Study: https://diginomica.com/why-do-marketers-struggle-to-do-analytics-well/

Sales Hacker: https://www.saleshacker.com/intent-data-b2b-sales-marketing/

Gartner: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexlawrence/2012/11/01/five-customer-retention-tips-for-entrepreneurs/?__hstc=32807841.12fdf7f0d9e1a4e4127eacd91e9e7015.1420565079181.1420565079181.1420565079181.1&__hssc=32807841.1.1420565079181&__hsfp=111348769

McKinsey: https://www.mckinsey.com/

Industrial Marketing Today blog: https://www.industrialmarketingtoday.com/sal-is-the-glue-that-binds-sales-and-marketing-in-lead-generation/

WordStream: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/01/26/intent-marketing

25%: https://www.demandgenreport.com/resources/reports/2018-state-of-b2b-intent-data

Additional Added Source: https://blog.topohq.com/intent-data-has-emerged-as-a-fast-growing-data-category/