Is There a Single Source of Truth for Intent Data? A Comparison of Second Party vs Third-Party Intent

Posted on 04 Mar

What is Intent Data?

Intent Data is a buzz-word all digital marketers must have heard by now. And why wouldn’t it be? Everyone would love to know which companies and buyers are in the market for their solution. No wonder why Intent Data providers are in the spotlight now.

Even though B2B Buying Intent is generated across multiple different sources (online and offline), current software vendors can pick it up across three different sources:

First-Party Intent – Activities/Intelligence that you pick from your own audience across your all your Digital Properties, i.e. Websites, Blogs, Email Campaigns, Marketing Automation Tools, CRM, Product Usage etc.

Second-Party Intent – is essentially someone else’s first party data. The seller collects data straight from their audience, and it all comes from one source. You typically purchase the directly from the source. Companies like TechTarget and G2Crowd are couple great examples of providing Second Party Intent Data.

Third Party Intent – Activities/Intelligence aggregated across various different sources, publisher networks, data co-ops, Ad networks, social networks etc.

Why this Analysis?

As a player in the Sales/Marketing Intelligence space – we firmly believe Intent is never generated in isolation and companies need to look at multiple different sources of Intent to make the right prediction. A majority of our customers use Intent Data solutions like G2Crowd, Bombora, TechTarget etc to pick up on intent signals. However – I was very surprised to see there has been NO prior experiment/research done on comparing the efficiency/impact of the different Intent Data Sources.

Given Intent Data is quickly becoming a key piece of the overall B2B Marketing stack, I think it’s super important for B2B Marketers to know the different kinds of intent sources and understand each of their strengths and weaknesses.

Being a Data Mining geek myself – I decided to run an experiment comparing data between LeadSift’s Behavioral Intent and another source of Intent. For the purpose of this experiment, we used Intent Data (Second Party Intent) sourced from G2Crowd from a joint customer in the Marketing Automation space.

N.B. This is purely an exercise to shed some light on two vastly different sources of Intent data and highlighting the importance of having a broader look at Buying Intent. Hopefully, this will encourage people to think of Buying Intent as less black-box and more of truly a Predictive Engine – that is getting stronger every day.

The Experiment

Thesis:

A B2B Buyer researches across multiple sources prior to buying a solution and hence Behavioral Intent Signals (Third-Party) from LeadSift should overlap with Intent Signals seen in Second Party Data sources

Data Sources:

G2Crowd (Second Party Intent Data) is one of the largest review sites for B2B companies and as part of their paid services they provide insights (intent signals) into companies researching your industry category and competitors on G2Crowd.

LeadSift is a Sales Intelligence Provider who has their own Intent Datastream (Third-Party Intent) – where we crawl the open public web looking for engagement with competitors, content consumption, company growth events, hiring patterns etc to predict buying intent.

Input Parameters:

• Date Range: 8 weeks (April 4th – June 4th)
• Product Category Analyzed: Marketing Automation and All-in-One CRM
• Location: Global
• Company Size: All
• Target Industries: All

Result:

• G2Crowd: 8,530 Intent Signals from 3,329 unique accounts
• LeadSift: 21,512 Intent Signals from 19,288 unique accounts
34.9% (1,162 / 3,329) of accounts showing Intent on G2Crowd website where also showing Intent Signals on LeadSift Intent Stream
20.8% (4,012/19,288) of companies showing Intent on LeadSift were from Senior Marketing/Sales professionals
72% (839/1162) of the companies showing intent across both Intent Sources were from Senior Marketing/Sales professionals.

Observation & Comments:

• Behavioral Intent from LeadSift had 5.7X the number of intent signals compare to G2Crowd. This is to be expected as G2Crowd only provides signals from one source, while LeadSift picks signals across millions of publicly available sources
• Average number of intent signals/account in G2Crowd is 2.55 vs LeadSift 1.15. This makes sense because people spend more time researching different companies in G2Crowd.
• 35% of companies showing Intent Signals on G2Crowd were also showing intent across other Third-party sources. Goes to show how people are doing multiple research before buying a B2B software. This does validate our hypothesis.
• 72% of companies showing intent signals on both G2Crowd & LeadSift were identified as Senior Sales/Marketing professionals. So pairing LeadSift Person Level Intent along with G2Crowd Intent signals can be a tremendously powerful way to prioritize their sales strategy
• Over 3,000+ companies showing Intent towards Marketing Automation category in LeadSift Intent Stream, but not picked up by G2Crowd where from Senior Sales/Marketing professionals – these are some great additional accounts to market too.

Conclusion

This experiment made two things abundantly clear for me:

• We need to look at Intent Data across multiple sources and then combine them together to prioritize our Sales/Marketing strategy.

• Knowing who within the company to contact with, makes any Intent Data significantly more Actionable and Powerful.

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