March 18th, 2019 | by
7 min read

We’ve all been hearing about buyer Intent Data for several years. And for years, we’ve all been waiting for it to make its way into our workflows and change our lives. And yet, in 2019, the promise of this data still seems unfulfilled for a lot of sales and marketers.

intent data can identify pain points earlier in the sales cycle

Let’s put it this way: Your prospects are out there right now, hunting for a solution to a problem you can solve. They’re searching online, consuming content, learning about options to relieve their pain, and forming opinions about solutions.

But they’re not asking for help from your sales team.

“In theory,” says CEO Henry Schuck in Forbes, “the digital footprint that B2B buyers create may actually be bigger, or at least have more depth and breadth. So, why is it easier for a small floral delivery service to target a B2C buyer online than, say, a 1,000-person data security company that provides its services exclusively to financial services companies based in the United States?”

The average B2B buyer is 67% of the way through the buyer journey before they ever engage with a salesperson. So how do you intercept buyers in the early part of their journey?

How do you ensure they don’t fly under the radar and end up with a competitor in the end?

You use Intent Data.

Read on to learn how sales and marketing teams are using it to beat competitors to the door, and shortcut a long sales cycle.

What is Intent data?

A woman unlocking a door, representing the potential of B2B intent data.

 

“Intent data” is online behavior-based activity across the internet (not just on your website) that links buyers and accounts to a topic.

This buyer activity includes:

  • Downloads of whitepapers, case studies, tech publications
  • Website visits
  • Product reviews
  • Time on website pages related to industry topics
  • Online subscriptions to newsletters and updates
  • Views of infographics
  • Attendance of webinars
  • Spikes in content consumption on a given topic

When buyers have pain points, they visit websites, read articles, download ebooks and whitepapers … and generally rack up a lot of digital footprints as they consume content across the internet. (B2B buyers – they’re just like the rest of us!)

Organizations that can collect and use online data – behavioral signals – are able to reach buyers much earlier in the process, guiding the decision-making process before a competitor even knows their prospect is interested.

Demand Gen Report’s annual ABM Benchmark Survey Report shows that only 25% of B2B companies said they currently use intent data and monitoring tools, while 35% said they plan to use intent insight within the next 12 months.

But 70% of the time, the first salesperson through the door wins the business. Buying intent indicators represents a huge opportunity for forward-thinking companies.

Read the study: Which Data Points Actually Lead to Higher Conversion Rates and More Sales?

How is Intent data different than other web tracking data?

A man reading code on a computer screen, representing intent data.

 

When prospective buyers hit your website, you can track the activity and bump up lead scores accordingly. Or at the very least, when someone fills out and submits a form on your website, you can nurture them with ads and email, and potentially convert them.

Great.

But what about all those prospects that are researching solutions like yours elsewhere on the web?

What if they’re researching, but not on your website? When your prospects go to other websites, you have no visibility into their activity or implied intent.

Where does Buyer Intent Data come from?

Various digital-related icons, representing the different data points in B2B intent data collection.

 

Nearly all pre-purchase research is done online: Web searches and content consumption is a strong signal of buyer intent.

In fact: 89% of buyers do online research to support their decision before making a purchase. And 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content – before engaging with a sales rep.

The first thing to know about Intent Data is that most predictive search activity takes place on websites … that aren’t yours. A lot of marketers are happy just to track traffic on their own corporate website – let alone other websites.

So the easiest way to get your hands on this Data is to buy it from a third-party vendor.

A woman at her computer.

One such data vendor, Bombora, collects and aggregates online research activity from a data sharing co-op that includes thousands of B2B websites and media publishers. By aggregating billions of activities each week, Bombora creates baselines for each company’s average content consumption over time – and looks for surges above normal levels of topic searches.

Of course, it’s hard to act on raw data. Bombora’s Surge algorithm factors in the amount of content consumed, the number of content consumers, the type of content consumed, time on page, scrolling speed, and other indicators to generate a surge score for each company on each topic.

“Buyers are engaging later and later in their sales cycles,” says Charles Crnoevich, Head of Partnerships at Bombora. “It doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in content. Company surge data allows providers to send relevant information in an unobtrusive way at the right time in their research journey.

It also helps down funnel sales people focus their time when those opportunities are coming to fruition and want to hear from them.

So – how do you use B2B Intent Data in 2019?

“Intent data helps both sales and marketing to know who to call, who to email, and how to segment paid activity,” says Mike Burton, Bombora co-founder and Senior VP of Sales, “so that all of these go-to-market motions are not only effective, but helpful to their prospects and customers.”

Companies that don’t use predictive data are limiting their response to data from their own website, while their potential buyer has likely been trying to solve a pain point for weeks.

There are three main use cases for sales and marketing teams using Intent Data in 2019:

1. Identify early buyer interest: Purchase intent signals helps identify which companies are actively researching your solution – before they fill out a form on your site or engage with your sales or marketing teams.

2. Lead scoring and prioritizing accounts: Use predictive purchase data to weight your lead scoring model: Give priority to companies that actively demonstrate interest and purchase intent – before they initiate the buying process with a competitor.

3. Analyze and retain customers: Get real-time visibility into which customers are researching topics and solutions. Insight like this into existing customers makes it possible to upsell proactively, as well as identify pain points – before you’re blindsided by customers who failed to renew or bought an offering from a competitor they didn’t know you had.

[VIDEO] Learn more about the DiscoverOrg + Bombora partnership

Why is predictive data important for B2B sales?

A woman holding a red Google place marker above her head.

According to TOPO’s Account-Based Technology Report, Intent Data is the fastest growing solution in the Sales Tech stack. (Translation: If your competitors haven’t already started to use it, they’re thinking about it.)

Get in front of buyers earlier in the buying process

According to a report by Forrester, 68% of B2B customers prefer to research independently online. Predictive purchase data allows sales and marketing teams to initiate contact with buyers earlier in the buying cycle.

We don’t expect this trend of self-guided buyer research to change anytime soon. And companies who wait for prospective buyers to stumble across a landing page are going to be increasingly late to the game.

What are other types of B2B data?

Two men reading a wall of charts, representing the complexity of B2B purchase intent data.

 

To make Intent Data actionable, it’s helpful to have other types of data, too. We think about buyer data in three categories: Fit, Intent, and Opportunity.Infographic: What is intent data? A combination of fit, intent, and opportunity.

Fit Data Fit data includes all the different ways of segmenting and scoring prospects (technographic data) and accounts (firmographic data). This includes demographics like job level, job function, age, and location; it also includes company firmographics such as tech stack, size/revenue, industry, and budget.

Fit data is pretty static. It can tell you whether an organization or a individual contact is generally a good fit – but says nothing about context or timing.

Opportunity Data We refer to Opportunity data as “Scoops”: These indicate favorable conditions, within an organization, for a sale. Scoops are company events like new rounds of funding, moves and shake-ups in the C-suite, mergers and acquisitions, new store openings … All of these signals indicate favorable conditions for a sale.

Intent Data – This tells you that the time is right. People are actively showing intent to potentially purchase a solution. It’s important because it shows that the timing is right to engage.

When you combine intent data with other signals and a strong fit, the likelihood of success is much higher.

It’s helpful to know when there’s activity at a company, but if you don’t know who to engage with and don’t have a phone number or email address for them, it may be insightful, but it isn’t actionable. The data trifecta of Fit, Opportunity, and Intent puts all the pieces together.

DiscoverOrg and Bombora

DiscoverOrg was Bombora’s first partner! We’ve been helping customers pull predictive data into their workflows since 2014.

The DiscoverOrg platform includes a feature called OppAlerts. We pull in our data from Bombora, collected and analyzed from:

  • 4,000 corporate websites and media publishers
  • 40 billion unique buying signals monthly
  • 2 billion devices and millions of prospective buyers

DiscoverOrg curates the strongest signals from Bombora’s Surge feed – and turns them into actionable buying signals on hundreds of topics – 1500+ at the time of this writing – from Natural Language Process to Employee Surveys to CRMs to Password Management.

DiscoverOrg customers can search OppAlerts categories to proactively identify accounts that are searching for related solutions. You can also set up automatic alerts for spikes in related buyer intent.

Ultimately, Intent Data allows sales and marketing teams to provide more timely service to customers. The sales game never really changes. But every new advantage translates to deals won.

The data is swimming around out there. Catch that, and you’ve landed your next big deal.

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Justin Withers
About the author

Justin Withers

Justin is the Vice President, Product Management and Product Marketing at DiscoverOrg and brings a decade of experience driving pipeline and revenue growth at B2B technology companies. Justin has authored several research reports including DiscoverOrg's 2017 Growth Drivers Report: Unlock the Sales and Marketing Secrets of the Fastest Growing Companies. Justin is passionate about the power of data and content to educate, influence, and enable sales and marketing team execution.