Data is in the air businesses breathe and the water they drink; it is impossible to run a business successfully in 2019 without an ample amount of information about customers, competitors and more. However, too often, businesses make major mistakes when it comes to data collection. It’s possible, easy even, to collect too much data, and oftentimes businesses focus on gathering data that doesn’t do them any good while ignoring types of data that would make a major difference. Such is the case with intent data. Businesses, and B2Bs specifically, benefit significantly by understanding customers’ intentions, but they misunderstand what types of data they need to generate this picture and how to use their understanding to the best effect. To all B2Bs struggling with the idea of intent data, this basic guide is for you.
Types of Intent Data
Just as other types of business data can be broken down into sub-categories — for instance, contact data is made up of phone numbers, email addresses and social media profiles — intent data consists of two varieties of information, each defined by the source of the data. First, there is first-party intent data, which should be relatively familiar to most businesses, including B2Bs. First-party intent data is collected from visitors to your own website; it includes information like how users found your site, what pages they visit and more. Often, first-party intent data is anonymous, but you can have a name associated with the record if you request visitors to fill out a form with their name and contact information. You can access your first-party intent data through the simplest marketing platforms, like Google Analytics or a basic CRM. Secondly there is third-party intent data. This is a newer type of data that requires specific tools to track and analyze web user behavior from thousands of websites. Because you don’t have access to this information from other sites, you will need to purchase third-party intent data from a specialized provider. Intent data providers will search for behavior that indicates an interest in engaging your unique B2B’s products or services and direct that information to your B2B’s sales and marketing teams, who can then learn how to best leverage B2B intent data to increase conversions. Both types of intent data come with their own words of warning. While first-party intent data seems more familiar — because you have likely been collecting that engagement-related information for some time — you will need an experienced data analyst to translate the numbers into insights that describe prospect intent. Unfortunately, you do need to be much more wary about third-party intent data. Because it is coming from outside your controlled web properties, there is a chance that it is falsified or inaccurate in some way. You need to be certain that your intent data providers are trustworthy, which requires you to ask questions about their methods and check other clients’ reviews. Some questions you should consider posing to potential providers include:
- Where does the data map to — leads, accounts or both?
- How does the provider collect the data?
- Will the provider offer context for the data, i.e. how scores of the data are calculated?
- Does the data integrate into your existing marketing and sales systems and tech?
- How granular is the detail and how broad is the coverage?
Uses of Intent Data
Once you have both access to intent data and a means to make raw data into something usable, you need to have a strategy for applying the data to your B2B to improve processes and increase sales. It is possible to outsource every aspect of business data, from collection to application, but if your B2B is small, it behooves you to learn how to use your intent data on your own. Information gained from intent data collection should immediately and directly influence your sales and marketing operations. Here are a few specific ways you might apply the insights and information gleaned from intent data:
- Account-based marketing. With the help of intent data, sales and marketing teams can more easily create an ABM strategy that includes better research and provides better results.
- Targeted account lists. Some accounts are worth more than others. Intent data helps your sales and marketing teams prioritize their outreach lists to target the higher-value accounts.
- Targeted advertising. It’s difficult to develop targeted ads when you don’t know the who, where and what of your prospects. Intent data clears up these questions and illuminates better advertising options.
To many business owners, the idea of harnessing Big Data seems like a Big Hassle. However, when you realize what types of data your specific business needs, you can cut down on the effort necessary to utilize that data properly. Intent data is a crucial tool for B2Bs, so the sooner you start integrating it into your existing business strategy, the better.