Now more than ever, prospective B2B buyers are shopping for and researching potential new solutions online. However, this increase does not always translate into more inbound leads. On average, only about 2% of your website visitors will fill out a form, and what's more, once they do, they're likely nearing the end of their buying process. This phenomenon is likely due to the fact that today's B2B buyers are wary of salespeople and have access to unprecedented amounts of digital information. Buyers can answer product questions, get pricing, compare services, and more all without ever reaching out to a sales rep.
Unfortunately, for your sales team, this means that buyers are forming opinions and making purchasing decisions about your products on their own. But the good news is that leveraging buyer intent data allows you to identify when companies are interested and when to reach out at the perfect time to add value to the conversation. In this article, we will discuss the different types of buyer intent data as well as some of the benefits and limitations of each.
As the name suggests, buyer intent data is a broad term for information about your target audience that indicates an increased interest (or intent) in buying a product like yours.
This information is tremendously useful to sales and marketing teams because it gives them the ability to deliver highly customized messaging to their target audience based on what they are interested in. In addition, this data can be used to power every aspect of your account-based marketing strategy, including:
Identifying In-Market Buyers – By looking at the companies showing buying intent for different products you offer, you can see things like which industries are most engaged with your content, what size company tends to show the most buying intent, etc. You may also discover untapped market segments that are interested in your products which you may want to target in the future.
Building Ad Retargeting Campaigns – Ad retargeting is one of the most effective ways to recapture website visitors that have left your site without converting. By intent data within your ad platform (like Google Ads), you can dynamically adjust your ad bids to win more ad placements for high-value accounts.
Personalizing Website Content – Once you know what a company is interested in, you can use tools like Google Optimize or Adobe Target to dynamically customize nearly every aspect of your website, from images to text, navigation, and more.
Creating Custom Sales and Marketing Campaigns – Once you know which accounts are interested in which products, you can create customized outreach messages that speak directly to the pain points they may be experiencing and how your products can solve them.
Monitoring Campaign Success – It may sound redundant but companies showing buying intent are probably in the market to buy your products. By looking deeper into who these companies actually are and what they're interested in you can gain valuable insights into how well your ABM campaigns are performing (i.e. bringing in the right kind of traffic).
First-party intent data is data collected by you about your audience across your digital properties that indicate an elevated interest (or intent) to purchase. This could include things like:
Each one of these actions can be factored into an account score that indicates a company's level of interest and can inform the outreach action this visitor might be receptive to.
Leveraging first-party data is like having your prospective customers telling you exactly what they want, how interested they are, and exactly when you should reach out to them.
Benefits of First-Party Data: The main benefits of using first-party data are cost, ownership, and reliability. Because first-party intent data is gathered through an established relationship between you and your audience, it is generally considered more reliable and valuable than any other type of intent data.
In addition, since you collect the data yourself you don’t need to purchase this data from any second- or third-party data suppliers. Once you’ve set up your collection platforms, you can just sit back and start collecting.
The last (and arguably best) thing about first-party data is the fact that you own it and thus can use it for whatever you want – there are no companies telling you what you can and cannot do with this data. This also opens up the door for greater customization and flexibility with this data since you can define and collect any custom criteria or data points that are important to you.
Limitations of First-Party Data: The limitations of first-party intent data are reach and scalability. Since this data is collected about your specific audience, you are limited to only gathering insights on the number of visitors browsing your site and visiting your digital assets. For example, if your website only gets 300 users and only a handful of content downloads per month, it will be hard to build audiences and set up a targeting campaign based on an audience of this size.
Have you heard the old saying: “One company’s first-party data is another company’s second-party data?” Probably not, but that’s essentially what second-party data is – another company's first-party data that you purchase directly from them.
Benefits of Second-Party Data: Second-party data helps to tackle the potential scalability issue of using first-party data by increasing the pool of audience data on which you can build campaigns. Additionally, building relationships with second-party data suppliers fosters trust and collaboration and can be highly beneficial for both companies.
Limitations of Second-Party Data: While second-party data solves the main scalability issue of first-party data, it is not without its drawbacks. Just like with first-party data, you are again limited to only the first-party reach of the company you are buying from.
Furthermore, companies are not giving this data away for free. Gaining access to another company’s first-party data often requires either payment and/or access to your first-party data in exchange. This also brings up the issue of control. Since you do not own second-party data, you are limited by what the data supplier allows you to do with it, and also run the risk of losing that data if they so choose.
Finally, the issue of data quality cannot be overlooked. Unlike data collected by you, second-party data is collected by others meaning you have no control or even knowledge of exactly how and when the data was collected.
Third-party data is defined as activities, events, and intelligence across multiple different sources aside from those taking place on a website. Actions that could signal increased third-party intent are things like:
This data is then aggregated into third-party intent audiences and sold as a package on which you can build audiences and campaigns.
Benefits of Third-Party Intent Data: Because third-party data is gathered from multiple sources, there is a nearly endless amount available, which greatly increases your reach. This makes building audiences and campaigns much easier.
Limitations of Third-Party Intent Data: Because third-party vendors base their data on inferred or implicit traits rather than actual audience responses, it could be seen as less reliable than first or second-party data. Furthermore, just like second-party data, since you do not own the data, you are bound by the restrictions set up by the third-party data supplier. Finally, most companies will have access to the same third-party data pools meaning the audience data you purchase can easily be acquired and used by your competitors.
Zero-party data is information that your website visitors voluntarily give you via online surveys, forms, etc. This data can include things like:
The tricky thing about zero-party data is that the questions you ask will determine whether or not it can be classified as “intent data.” For example, a question about business goals or purchase intentions would be related to the visitor’s intent to buy, while a question about language preferences or geolocation might not be. While the questions you ask may not always be intent-related, this information can be used to personalize your website, create targeted outreach, or provide customized buying experiences for your visitors.
Benefits of Zero-Party Intent Data: The nice thing about zero-party data is that it can be seen as a win-win for both you and your website visitors – you receive data about your visitors, and in turn, they receive a personalized browsing experience on your site. Much like first-party data, zero-party data is so powerful because it comes directly from your audience without being aggregated, bought, or sold between organizations so it can be seen as highly valuable and reliable.
Limitations of Zero-Party Intent Data: Unfortunately, the thing that makes zero-party data great also makes it unreliable. Because the data is self-reported by your website visitors, there’s no telling if the data they provide is accurate or if they are simply picking answers to get rid of a survey pop-up window. In addition, response rates for online surveys can vary drastically, with most estimates between 5-30%. This means the pool of zero-party data can be rather small, especially for websites that already have low traffic.
While we cannot know exactly what our potential customers are thinking, leveraging intent data can give us valuable insights into what they are looking for. Intent data can also be a powerful predictor of which companies are more likely to buy right now – giving you valuable insight into who you should be focusing your messaging on to drive better sales and marketing campaigns and increase your conversion rates and ultimately revenue.
If you want to learn more about how intent data can supercharge your sales and marketing efforts, contact us to speak with one of our intent data experts today!