Do you know what your customer is looking for? Or what topics move them and what problems they are currently facing? Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew? Intent Data will bring you into the known! With Intent Data, you can recognize the Search and Buyer Intent of a potential customer in no time and offer your solution at the perfect moment. In this article, we'll explain what these terms mean and why you should integrate Intent Data into your daily routine.
What Is Intent Data?
Let's start with the basics: What exactly is the term "Intent Data" all about? If we look at "intent" and "data" separately, we get a pretty good picture. Since the terms "Search Intent" and "Buyer Intent" are often mentioned in the same breath, it becomes clear that we are talking about data that has something to do with a person's search or purchase intent. Sometimes the term "Buyer Intent Data" is also used, thus combining both words.
In B2B, Intent Data shows what (potential) customers are interested in and what they are looking for on the internet. It’s information about people’s online behavior and, in B2B, of companies. With the help of Intent Data, you can see at one glance what a company is currently thinking about. Let's assume that a customer service employee of a company is looking for "the best CRM system 2021", then this indicates this company is currently looking for a CRM system.
We can summarize: Intent Data provides information about what is being searched for and how high the purchase intention for a product or service is. Buyer Intent therefore measures a prospect's inclination to buy a product or service. So, if a company is already looking for a CRM tool, you can assume that their purchase intention is already very high.
As you can see, Intent Data is pretty cool to know more about your (future) customer! Whether you work in sales, marketing or customer service, Intent Data opens the door to customers and prospects.
How Do You Recognize Buyer Intent?
One question remains: How do you recognize a purchase intent in the first place? Intent Data can mean both Buyer Intent and Search Intent. But how do you recognize a Buyer Intent or a Search Intent of a potential customer? There are some indicators telling you that (potential) customers do have a purchase or search intent. Here are the indicators you can see via your own channels and touchpoints (First Party Data):
- They consume your content: Whether someone reads a news post on your website or an article on your blog – that person has become aware of you and is reading something related to your business or a topic you're an expert in.
- They visit your product pages: This person or company probably has a very practical interest in your product or solution. When someone visits your product page, you can tell that they want to understand what exactly you offer and how it works.
- They visit your landing pages: Such a visit can have various reasons. Maybe a sales rep told them to visit a specific landing page where all important information for a certain customer group is available. Or the visiting person clicks thematically through different pages to get a better impression of you, your company and your products. No matter for what reason the visitor is here – it’s important that he/she was there and that you recognize what his/her interest was.
- They visit/comment on your profile or posts on social media: Social media platforms like LinkedIn also show you who has an interest in you and/or your products! As a sales manager, keep an eye on your visitors on your own profile and as a company page you can also monitor who follows you and likes/comments your posts.
- They take part in your webinar or event: If someone takes part in your webinar, it may well be that this person or company wants to get a better impression of your products and your company without obligation. Here, gut feeling and sympathy, but also speaker competence are decisive factors.
- They subscribe to your newsletter: Subscribers to your newsletter can already be your customers, competitors or prospects. Make sure your newsletter is remembered positively! You should send out a newsletter regularly and cover relevant topics in it. Furthermore, you can measure openings and clicks!
- They rate your product on a rating platform: Products are usually rated when someone is very satisfied or very unhappy. If we assume the former, this shows that a customer or prospective customer has taken note of you or your product and gained a positive impression. You can also use reviews from satisfied customers as social proof.
Our tip: Track how long visitors stay on your website, too! This way you can evaluate what interests them the most!
In addition, there are also some signs outside your channels that show you that there is a Search or Buyer Intent on the part of your (potential) customer (Third Party Data). These are the following:
- Search queries on search engines: If (potential) customers are looking for a topic that you already cover on your blog or website, this is also a search intent or even – depending on their status in the customer journey – a Buyer Intent. This person or company often has a pain and is looking for a solution on the internet. If you know who is looking for what, you can target these companies. Remember: This is not data that you collect yourself...but more about that later.
- Research on review platforms: Many companies first compare offers and tools on review platforms such as Capterra or G2. Here they can see in every detail how something works and what other users think of a product. Social proof is often a factor that should not be underestimated when making a purchase decision! You can also buy this data, by the way! This means, the information on who compares your offer with that of another company, and use it for yourself.
- Visiting competitors' websites: Companies that visit your competitors' websites can also be exciting for you! Why? Maybe someone first came across your competitor and is at the beginning of the customer journey. At this point you could still woo away this target customer and convince him/her of your product. There are providers who sell such data (i.e. the website visits on a page other than your own). More about that later.
The buying behavior of a company can also show you that there is an intention to buy or search. Here, for example, it is worth taking a look at the technological equipment of a (target) customer, upcoming contract extensions or financing information. The software a company uses can show you how high the budget is for individual teams. Or you might research which potential customers are currently using a competitor's product. Here a purchase intention can arise if you show these target customers the advantage of your products. If this customer then also visits your pages or reads your blog articles, he definitely thinks about a change!
What Are Buyer Intent Keywords?
Buyer Intent Keywords are certain terms that a (potential) customer enters into a search engine and that indicate an intention to buy. Depending on which keywords someone enters into Google, for example, you can recognize what buying phase they are in. It is also extremely helpful for your SEO content if you can distinguish between Buyer Intent Keywords.
Examples for Searches
Phase 1: Frustration
"How do I get more B2B leads?"
Phase 2: Interest
„Tools for B2B lead gen"
Phase 3: Deepen
„Tool A vs. Tool B"
Phase 4: Purchase
„Discount Tool B"
Examples for Searches
Phase 1: Frustration
"How do I get more B2B leads?"
Phase 2: Interest
„Tools for B2B lead gen"
Phase 3: Deepen
„Tool A vs. Tool B"
Phase 4: Purchase
„Discount Tool B"
The three main types of Buyer Intent Keywords are:
1. Keywords During Research (Informational Keywords)
Here, someone searches for typical W-questions such as "what", "who", "where” and also "how" or for a guide or assistance, which are usually peppered with "guide", "instructions", "tips", "best" or other words. As a rule, these keywords signal a low purchase intention; the searchers are rather at the beginning of the customer journey and usually have concrete pain points.
You can act as a problem solver at this point. For example, if someone is looking for "the best sales strategies" or "how does outbound sales work", you can provide direct solutions with suitable articles or landing pages. There is also a place for "trend topics", i.e. topics that may not be an acute problem in a company, but which are still present (e.g. LinkedIn stories or social selling etc.). Here you have the chance to be remembered by the potential customer right at the beginning of the customer journey.
2. Keywords in the Decision-Making Process (Navigational Keywords)
Navigational keywords represent the next level of Buyer Intent Keywords. Here, someone is already looking specifically for a product that he/she wants to buy. This means that at this point, people are diligently comparing brands or searching for product names. Certain features or reviews then already appear in their search query. Now you can work with success stories, social proof and generally everything that emphasizes the benefits of your products. Test accounts or trial subscriptions are also very popular in this phase of the customer journey.
3. Keywords in the Buying Process (Transactional Keywords)
In the last phase, Transactional Keywords signal a very specific Buyer Intent. Here, (potential) customers often search for "the best way to buy XY" or even discount codes. For your SEO strategy, it is important that you not only cover search queries in this phase – even if the conversion usually takes place here, Informational and Navigational Keywords are just as important for the visibility and reputation of your brand and will deliver customers to you in the end.
What Kind of Intent Data Are There?
Not all Intent Data is the same! As with keywords, there are differences in the way data is obtained. Roughly speaking, a distinction is made between First Party Behavioral Data (First Party Intent Data) and Third Party Behavioral Data (Third Party Intent Data). There is also a distinction between Context Data and Topic Data. Context Data is about which person or which company is active in the network and what position, role and expertise this person brings to the table. Topic Data, on the other hand, provides information about topics that are being searched for. Let's take a closer look.
First Party Data
First Party Data distinguishes between anonymous and known data.
Here's a simple example: One person visits your website and downloads a whitepaper (= Known First Party Data). Another person visits your website and the IP address of the company where this person works is recognized. However, they do not download anything and therefore do not disclose their data (= Anonymous First Party Data).
Both types of data are First Party Data because you can collect it yourself and it belongs to you. In addition, various tools can help you track your site visitors and serve them personalized content. But more about that later.
Third Party Data
In contrast to First Party Behavioral Data that you collect yourself, there is Third Party Behavioral Data. This is where it gets exciting, because Third Party Intent Data is about website visits and downloads etc. on sites that don't belong to you. In other words, this is tracking your target audience on the next level. Here, too, a distinction is made between Known Data (when someone downloads something and deliberately enters their data) and Anonymous Data (when someone merely surfs, but does not enter anything).
In the area of Third Party Intent Data, there are providers who sell this data and in return enter into cooperations with sites such as forbes.com, which pass this data on to them.
Important: Make sure that Third Party Intent Data providers act in a GDPR-compliant manner! For example, use double opt-in.
Especially with Third Party Data, it is extremely important that you pay attention to the quality, timeliness and traceability of the data origin. Specifically: Where exactly does this intent data provider get its data from? How up-to-date is it? Do they also provide you with contextual information about the searcher, such as industry or position? If you want to be on the safe side, we recommend our checklist.
Buyer Intent Data vs. Customer Intent Data?
Of course, there is also a difference between Buyer Intent Data and Customer Intent Data. Depending on which department you work in, either information about the search intent of your existing customers or your potential customers is more helpful.
If you have Customer Intent Data, you know what your customer wants and where any problems lie. This is a great up-selling and cross-selling potential that you can exploit. In addition, this intent data helps you to refine your buyer personas and generally gain a better understanding of your customers.
If your product serves different industries as well as different departments, Intent Data will help you define your buyer personas precisely. This will ensure that they have an optimal buying experience and are satisfied. Furthermore, it will strengthen your customer loyalty and opens up valuable opportunities for success stories or reviews that you can use for social proof. At the same time, you gain valuable insights that you can use to acquire new customers in a similar industry.
With prospects, on the other hand, there is enormous potential for marketing and sales. Buyer Intent Data provides you with valuable information that you can use specifically when addressing a prospect. Your customer is looking for "company lists" or "sales and GDPR" and has therefore downloaded a checklist on your blog? Then you can proactively approach him/her and pitch your product with regard to the GDPR. In this way, you pick up the customer exactly at his/her problem, thus strengthening trust and achieving more deals.
What Are the Advantages of Intent Data in B2B?
In case it wasn’t clear yet: Intent Data brings you quite a few advantages! Let's take a closer look at the biggest opportunities:
- You understand your future customer: With the help of Intent Data, you can get an overview of who is looking for what topics and solutions. So, if you know such customer activities, it helps you to identify pain points and interests!
- You recognize a purchase intent and early interest: Intent Data allows you to identify buyer intent way faster! You can see which companies are actively looking for solutions even before they fill out a form or get in touch with a company's sales department. In this way, you can position yourself at different points in the customer journey and reach out prospects even before your competitors!
- You can create account lists: Using Intent Data, you can create lists of high-potential visitors. In return, you can address these with Account Based Marketing and/or hand them over to your sales team.
- You can individualize your conversations: Whether in cold calling or in marketing campaigns, we can agree: Individuality is the key! If a prospect feels understood and listened to, trust increases. With the help of Intent Data, your pitches become better and your sales increases.
- You can filter prospects: Depending on which visitor viewed which content, you can tier or filter who you want to work with first. Maybe your teams are also divided by industry/customer groups and Intent Data helps you bring more leads to them. You can also create B2B lookalikes based on Intent Data.
- You can measure how effectively your content works: Not only your content, but also your landing pages, your website in general and your advertising campaigns can be evaluated with the help of Intent Data! Use the information to constantly improve yourself.
- You can strengthen your customer relationships: As mentioned earlier, Intent Data is not only relevant for sales and marketing. Intent Data is also a treasure chest for your support department, showing them how satisfied a customer is, what they might still be missing and where they can help them.
How Can You Use Intent Data Profitably?
You now know the advantages of Intent Data. But how can you use Intent Data to increase your sales? Depending on the area in which you work, Intent Data can help you in different ways:
Intent Data in Marketing & PreSales
Let's start with Marketing and PreSales. Intent Data is great for various marketing campaigns! For one, you can use Intent Data to drive your Account Based Marketing by using the information to generate customized landingpages, ads and, of course, content. If you know what your target audience is interested in, you can directly align yourself with it.
Furthermore, your SEO strategy benefits enormously from Intent Data! If you know the pain points of your (potential) customers, you need less time to research relevant keywords, because your visitors already provide them. Your further SEO research can thus be practically aligned with the Intent Data.
Another exciting feature is the ability to target ads based on Intent Data; so-called Intent Data Targeting. The same principle applies here: You know what your (potential) customers are looking for and can therefore design ads to these searches. Example analogous to the previous example: Your prospect searches for "company lists" and you play out ads with exactly this keyword.
Last but not least: Intent Data is an excellent basis for lead generation! Your pre-sales team in particular will be happy to track down and qualify leads based on page visits or downloads. There is actually no better source of leads with a more acute need.
Intent Data in Sales & Account Management
Of course, your sales and account management or support team also benefit from Intent Data and the information gained from it. We have already addressed the topic of outbound sales or cold calling – your approach can only be better if you already know the pain points of prospects and what they are looking for. Boring conversation openers are now a thing of the past, whether on the phone or in social selling.
Another component that we have already touched on is cross-selling and upselling. With Intent Data, you get a good overview of the topics that move your existing customers and prospects. This means that you can address supplementary offers or premium packages precisely when you know that your (potential) customer has a certain need in this area.
With the help of Intent Data, you can also recognize where someone stands in the customer journey. It is pretty useful in account prioritization and lead scoring because you can see who is already close to making a purchase. So, target these prospects quickly, before a competitor does!
What Tools and Providers Are There for Intent Data?
Since there are many different types of Intent Data, the market naturally also offers many tools for generating them. Depending on your intention, you should find out in advance which tools are suitable for your use case. Most Intent Data tools also offer CRM integrations. If you want to use the data centrally, it is best to find out in advance whether your CRM system is also supported. Basically, we recommend checking which tools you already use elsewhere and to what extent an Intent Data tool can be integrated. It is of no use to you if you drown in a flood of tools.
Then the question is: What do you want to achieve? Do you want to identify your website visitors or learn more about the users? Or are you more interested in the pains that draw your users to you in the first place? We have selected a few tools for you for different purposes:
Tools for Intent Keywords and Keyphrases
You want to start at the very beginning of the customer journey and wonder which websites your target audience is visiting and what terms they are searching for? DemandJump is a tool that gives you the answers. If you know what questions your target audience is asking before they become aware of you, you have a decisive advantage: You know what answers you need to deliver!
In other words, you use the search intent to create relevant content for your target audience. In the end, you will draw attention to your business and ultimately generate more page visits, clicks and conversions. When generating content, you can also use SEO research tools to find out what else is being searched for the keywords you found out using DemandJump. Freely available tools include AnswerthePublic, Thruuu, Keyword Tool and the kwfinder.
Tools to Identify Website Visitors
When users move around your website, it's a sign that they're interested in what you have to offer. It also gives you the opportunity to generate valuable Intent Data – you just need the right tools.
Using the IP address, it is possible to see which company is visiting your website. In addition, the way visitors click shows what they are interested in and usually also how they came to your website. A link with Google Analytics also gives you valuable marketing insights, such as the length of a stay on an individual pages or whether the user came to your website via an ad campaign, for example. If you need more information about the interested party, e.g. which industry the company belongs to, which sales volume it has or who the possible contacts are, you can easily enrich the company data with the right tools.
Here’s a small selection of tools with which you can recognize website visitors:
Recognize Purchase Intentions
The third level of Intent Data tools goes one step further and helps you to already recognize concrete purchase intentions. There are different approaches of the tools here - some work with exclusive data and therefore specialize in a specific target group, such as the PriorityEngine from TechTarget, which focuses on the tech industry. Other tools use predictive analytics to predict purchase intentions. We've collected this selection for you:
We would like to mention G2 separately, because it is a comparison platform. At the same time, however, it offers the possibility to find out which companies compare your profile and possibly pursue specific intentions. But you can also find out when your customers compare competitors and thus get the chance to prevent terminations.
Sales Trigger Events vs. Intent Data
If you're looking for ways to identify buying intent, you won't get past the concept of Sales Triggers. Just like Intent Data, these can tell you about specific sales opportunities. But to use both properly, it's important to know the difference. Let’s have a look what Sales Triggers exactly are!
Sales Trigger Events are events that take place with customers or prospects. You usually hear about them from the media, from social media posts, and sometimes from personal conversations. Sales Trigger Events are usually events that are part of a company's everyday life. This includes for example a trade fair visit, the change of a high-ranking manager or even a move or a new building.
It entirely depends on you which Trigger Events are relevant for you – this varies from company to company and target audience to target audience. Assuming you are an IT service provider, you might be interested in corporate relocations. As the name suggests, the event immediately "triggers" a sales opportunity for you, because you can directly offer to set up a new IT infrastructure.
However, you are the active part here, recognizing the sales opportunity, offering your service to the company that is moving. At this point, the company does not even know that it needs you! Sales Triggers therefore do not only get you ahead of the interested party, but also possible competitors.
In contrast, you only get Intent Data when prospects take action and search for keywords or visit websites themselves. The idea behind Intent Data is that you learn more from it and generate insights. However, you depend on your prospects knowing exactly what they want in order to get really useful data.
In a nutshell: With Sales Trigger Events, you have a decisive advantage and can score with speed and relevance, which makes them really helpful to use in sales when you need to close quickly. With Intent Data, the prospect has a "knowledge advantage” and you use this opportunity to find out more about them and gain targeted information or long-term insights. Therefore, Intent Data is usually more in demand in marketing.
Examples of Intent Data
As explained earlier, there are different types of Intent Data. It always depends on the type of Intent Data. Let's take a look at four examples for each type shortly:
A potential customer visits your website. He/she clicks on your home page, clicks on various product pages and reads something in the news. Then he/she bounces.
This is unknown First Party Intent Data: You can use some tools to track the visitor's IP and interpret what they might have been looking for.
A potential customer visits your blog, reads two articles on the same topic and downloads a whitepaper on Account Based Marketing.
This is known First Party Intent Data: You know which topic is interesting for your visitor.
Page Visit to Another Page
Let's say you developed an HR software. A prospect searches for HR software and visits other pages – for example, from your competitors – and clicks around.
This is unknown Third Party Intent Data: Third party vendors often have collaborations with sites that reveal to them who visited their site. If you now buy Intent Data from this third party, you know who is reading about your topic on other sites.
Interaction on Other Sites
Let's stay with our HR software example. A prospective customer is on G2 and compares your software with other providers. G2 can tell you which company is behind it and is currently in the decision-making process.
This is known Third Party Intent Data: Here you can see not only who is visiting other sites, but also who is interacting with other sites.
Conclusion: Why Intent Data is Useful in B2B Sales
Intent Data and data in general, like all data, is not infallible. If you're only using Intent Data to intervene at the end of the customer journey to get as many buyers as possible – just don’t! You should be using Intent Data to extend your cross-enterprise strategies so that you can support prospects and customers in the best possible way at every stage. Otherwise, you will miss opportunities!
Speaking of opportunities: If you don't use Intent Data, whether First or Third Party, you are missing out. You are missing out on understanding your target audience, your leads and existing customers. You don't have your finger on the pulse and are giving away sales opportunities. Know your customers, understand them, and use Intent Data to convince them of your product.
Above all: Don't grope in the dark any longer! With Intent Data you KNOW what your (potential) customer wants and WHEN they want it; you no longer have to guess or research it.
Checklist: Avoid These 9 Mistakes
Not sure whether the Intent Data you're about to buy is a good choice or not? Don't worry, we've got your back! We've prepared a handy checklist with which you can make sure you're buying reliable Intent Data.