Intent data is the up and coming, shiny new toy in B2B sales and marketing now. There are so many variations of what it is, everybody is confused. Weak descriptions of what intent data is damage it’s name, but in truth it is a lot of things rolled under one buzzword.

It is not IP data, a bunch of these tools exist. They can tell you that a company viewed your website and how many times, which pages they viewed. This is great, but you can’t make contact with the actual buyer. The interaction you’re looking at could be the Mail man using a computer quickly in your “prospect’s” office.

It is not data on if your target accounts are hiring new decision makers. Similarly, it is not data on when your target buyers are attending industry events. It’s a lot of these practices rolled into one. We’re going to rank what these practices are and how powerful they are as triggers for sales outreach or marketing to try and nurture a lead until they are ready for a sales conversation.

What is intent Data?

Intent data is the atomic unit of digital commerce. If you think about it, everything in B2B sales and marketing is about generating intent to buy, followed closely by the actual purchase. That is why content marketing, SEO, PPC and social media marketing exists at a top of funnel level. It’s about attracting a buyer, getting them interested. You need them to have intent to buy, these practices are about building that initial awareness and showing the buyer why they need to buy. If marketing is done well, the buyer should want to buy because they have every reason to buy, rather than every reason to file a cease and desist to your company.

The most important part of the collective intent data universe is “buyer intent”, or purchase intent. Ultimately, it’s the final but key piece of the journey from marketing to sales, to closed deal. The problem with modern sales is that there is a lot of competition. Buyers are bombarded by content and context, they don’t need a sales person until the last part of their purchase. Because of this, intent data is how we can focus in on the buyers who are conducting their research and are ready to have a conversation.

The key fact here is, we can find these buyers conducting research whether they research us or a competitor, or not.

Generally, the point of inbound marketing is to attract buyers doing their research to you, so you can nurture them and have them as a customer.

Types of “Purchase Intent Data”

And under the bracket of “buying intent data”, there are 2 types to be aware of. Anyone who emails your sales team asking for a demo and a price, wanting to buy by the end of the day is showing a lot of intent to buy. That is obvious and we won’t waste any time talking about that.

The second is the invisible. It’s the buyers who are looking at competitors, engaging with their sales team, looking at industry events, engaging with content educating people on relevant industry buzzwords. It’s knowing when accounts looking at you and your competitors are hiring a new decision maker, and lots more.

This, is the ranking of those important triggers that all good intent data consists of.

Ranking Intent Data Triggers

#1 – First Party Intent Data

These are the interactions you have to be tracking on your own digital properties. It’s when a prospect looks at your pricing page, downloads your eBook, signs up for your webinar. It’s even when your marketing emails are opened and engaged with. First party covers the obvious things that you need to track and leverage as context for your sales team and their outreach.

Speaking of eBooks, become a data-driven marketer with our eBook now:

#2 – Competitive Engagement

These are actions you cannot see. It’s engagements with a competitor’s content, their employees, their marketing. Consider how other companies are also casting a net to catch leads, any bites on their bait is a signal of intent to buy. You can’t find this data manually, you would need an army of robots. That is why LeadSift exists.

#3 – Hiring

This is a popular one. Sales teams use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to track this, but it will only tell you when the company has hired someone or if people are promoted. Even if the company lists that they are hiring for specific roles on LinkedIn natively, the sales person has to search this out proactively. Intent data tools can track this for you, so they do not have to look. We know that decision makers change their stack within 90 days of starting their new job, a strong indicator you should get involved and guide them to the correct reorganization.

#4 – Keyword Interaction

If you sell a Marketing Automation system, knowing when a decision maker in your ICP consistently engages with Marketing Automation content (and other synonyms of the keyword) is a good sign you can have a valuable conversation with the person. You can share new insights, strategies and methods they have not used yet. Use this data as context in how you market to them, with targeted messaging delivered to them at the right time (which is now, when you are seeing them consistently engage with a related keyword to what you offer).

#5 – Event Attendance

Why do companies pay to exhibit at events? Because buyers go to them. If your prospect is going to one or even multiple industry events, get ahead of the game. Intent data will tell you about this before you get to the last few weeks before you travel to the event itself. Save yourself from desperately emailing every prospect to ask if you can meet them there (at the same time as every other sales rep does that). Do it ahead of time by using intent data.

#6 – Influencer Interaction

Noticing prospects engaging with a key industry influencer is great context for your marketing and sales outreach. Think about how an SEO influencer, like Rand Fishkin could share tons of content on backlinks, or website tags for example. If you sell something related to those keywords, seeing a decision maker engage with that content tells you that they’re interested in it. Target them with related content that will help them.

A word of warning…

You cannot use one of these intent data triggers in isolation. Building a holistic picture is the way to have all the cards to your chest and use them smartly. Building your game plan based on seeing one card in the flop is risky and leads to a higher chance of error (if you like Poker). But seeing the whole flop and betting big once you know what is happening is the smarter bet, where you lose less often and win more often.

As well as this, it’s not as straight forward as to just see a prospect is engaging with an event and sending them a proposal to buy from you. Intent data is no silver bullet. It is an aid to finding the best prospects, sending the right message (based on what you know about them) at the right time (you know now is the right time because they’re being tracked in real time by your intent data tool).