By Alanna Goodman

Guest author Alanna Goodman is a content marketing specialist at ZoomInfo.

The first step to serving relevant ads to prospects is gathering accurate insights into their search behavior and buying tendencies. Who is most likely to buy and when? Where are they in the buyer’s journey right now? Intent data can tell you all of this.

"Intent data takes the mystery out of how to prioritize and create your marketing campaigns," says Mitchell Hanson, Senior Director of Demand Generation at ZoomInfo. "It allows you to focus on prospects who are in-market right now, craft messages that have a higher likelihood of resonating, and propel them to take the next action."

According to a Demand Gen Report survey of companies leveraging intent data in marketing: 

  • 80 percent say intent helped account prioritization and scoring 
  • 73 percent say intent accelerated their pipeline 
  • 53 percent say intent improved ideal customer profile definition

To help you upgrade and advance your marketing campaigns, we’ll explore the overall value of intent data in marketing and how it can help you:

  • Easily prioritize accounts 
  • Craft engaging content that converts
  • Retain and upsell customers 

What Is Intent Data in Marketing? 

Intent data refers to buying signals from across the internet that link prospect accounts to a specific topic. When potential buyers conduct research, such as website visits, product reviews, or content downloads, they indicate some intent to purchase products or services. 

For example, if a prospect account searches “what is B2B marketing software,” you can infer that they have relatively low purchase intent. However, if they search “best B2B marketing software vendors,” you can infer the company has medium to high purchase intent

There are two types of intent data in marketing:

  • First-party behavioral data, such as prospects’ engagement with your content and brand
  • Third-party behavioral data, including prospects’ engagement with other organizations’ content and brands

Being notified in real time when prospects are engaging with content relevant to your business improves your targeted nurture outreach and lead scoring. Let’s take a closer look at different ways your marketing team can leverage intent data to help sales close more deals—and close them faster.

Tactic #1: Easily Prioritize Accounts 

Using intent data to prioritize accounts leads to higher conversion rates, better alignment with sales, and shorter sales cycles. 

Once you’ve identified the topics you want to track, you want to know who’s researching those topics. Not only does intent data reveal when a prospect account is searching a topic relevant to your business, but it can also do so before anyone from that company fills out a form on your site or engages with your sales or marketing teams. This helps you prioritize companies that fit your ideal customer profile and have high purchase intent. Your B2B marketing software can give you an intent signal score indicating the strength of their interest.

You can use this data to inform your lead-scoring model. In all likelihood, you’ll have more target accounts than your sales reps can follow up within a reasonable time frame, so you’ll need to prioritize the most important ones. 

You may want to segment your leads into high, medium, and low priority. While those with high intent should be the highest priority, you should also consider prioritizing companies showing little to no intent to purchase. Why? Because this implies they’re at the beginning of the buyer’s journey and probably haven’t engaged much with your competitors. 

In fact, according to a RAIN Group research report, 71 percent of buyers who accept meetings want to hear from sellers at the earliest part of their buying process, when they’re forming ideas.

Tactic #2: Craft Engaging Content That Converts 

Once you’ve identified the prospects you’re going to target, your next step is to establish credibility and trust by nurturing them with personalized content. 

"Everyone has software that tells them when someone is on their website and what content they clicked on," says Hussam AlMukhtar, Senior Director of Strategic Growth and Partnerships at ZoomInfo. “But what you don’t know is what they’re doing outside of your website. Are they going to G2? Are they going to Forrester? Are they reading articles relevant to your topic? You could use this information to infer where they are in their buyer’s journey and customize your messages.”

The key is to serve prospects content based on what you know about them. AlMukhtar uses the audience objective matrix to craft personalized messages at scale. For example, if one group of accounts has relatively little purchase intent, you can send them thought leadership materials that teach them about a problem and how they can solve it. If another group of accounts has strong intent to purchase, you can target them with solution-focused content and direct response offers, such as "get a demo" or "start your free trial." 

The more relevant your message is to their current situation, the higher your conversion rates.

Tactic #3: Retain and Upsell Customers

Trust us, sales will love this: According to Harvard Business Review, increasing customer retention by 5 percent can boost profits by 25 percent.

Intent data in marketing can give your team a massive head start in the battle to retain customers. With intent, you get real-time visibility into which accounts are researching "red flag" topics and solutions. 

For example, say your company releases a new chatbot. Your customer is unaware of this and you see them searching for "marketing chatbot vendors." You can respond to their search with targeted ads or emails letting them know about your company’s new product, and send those leads to sales for a quick follow-up pitch.

Insights like this make it possible to upsell proactively, as well as identify potential problems before you’re blindsided by customers who fail to renew their contract or buy a solution from your competitor.

"If I have a customer that is showing more intent toward one of my competitors, I would like our customer success team and account managers to know—because then, I could have them intercept any kind of activity that could displace us," AlMukhtar says.

Put Intent Data to Work for Your Team

By knowing what your target audience is looking for in real time, you can position your marketing and sales teams to act quickly, beat out the competition, and close more deals. 

Ready to connect with ideal buyers at A-list accounts? Not only does ZoomInfo have the most accurate real-time intent data in marketing, but also the automated tools you need to put that data into action. Start your free trial today. 

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Alanna Goodman

About the author

Alanna Goodman From scribbling stories in notebooks to writing for a public company, Alanna has always had a passion for threading words together to bring a story to life. As a content marketing specialist at ZoomInfo, she began by writing about recruiting and operations, and nearly two years later is the lead writer for their marketing persona. Read more articles by Alanna Goodman.

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