Intent data has emerged as a fast-growing data category
Intent data reveals the topics that companies are actively consuming across the web. This data may be collected from a single publisher such as TechTarget or from a broad array of sites such as Bombora. Significant increases in research about a specific topic can be used to identify companies that are actively researching new solutions.
The ability to identify which companies are most likely in the market for a solution today has made intent the fastest growing data category over the last two years, with use increasing from 28% to 62% in companies surveyed by TOPO. Watch the on-demand webinar on this topic for further insights.
Intent data in the tech stack
Data is used by every go-to-market team to provide information on companies, from demographic details for segmenting accounts to titles and contact information for reaching specific prospects. Intent data gives go-to-market teams a way to select accounts and prospects, and provide additional insights that enable more relevant and more timely outreach. Revenue organizations are incorporating this time sensitive data into their workflow in a structured and repeatable way.
Figure 1 represents how intent data interacts with the rest of the marketing tech stack. Data flows directly into the CRM and other applications, providing insight and informing prioritization. There are a variety of ways to enact recommendations based on data-enriched records; these include artificial intelligence (AI), automated rules, and manual review. These decisions ultimately drive the execution enabled by other technology solutions (e.g., email, advertising, direct mail).
Captured by third-party websites, intent data solutions provide information on the specific topics that a company is currently researching. Therefore, intent data is the most time sensitive of all data solutions.
Intent data can identify that a prospect company on the target account list is interested in a topic right now, which triggers marketing teams and sales development representatives (SDRs) to reach out immediately, rather than wait until the next relevant campaign. In our survey of intent data users, more than two-thirds admitted that they are challenged by making intent data actionable. The time sensitivity makes it particularly challenging to act on and is one of the reasons SDRs are often a key part of activating intent data.
There are vendors that provide intent data in specific areas, while others allow customization based on a team’s existing keywords. There are also vendors that provide specific intent signals from a single source, while others gather it from thousands of sources. Organizations that purchase intent data from multiple vendors can see multiple signals converge around the same or similar topics, indicating a strong interest.
Intent data serves both marketing and sales use cases, with many companies purchasing data for use in sales development prospecting (see Figure 2). The leading use of intent data is selecting or prioritizing accounts (90%), followed by sharing insights with sales and sales development (68%). The most effective approach to leveraging intent data is to consider it as part of a broader picture. Organizations can select or prioritize accounts with intent data by first using firmographic or technographic data to confirm that the accounts are appropriate, then second sharing insights that help sellers customize their message to the accounts. Insights need to be organized so they are easily consumed and shared in tools such as CRM or sales engagement platforms where reps spend their time.
Another common use for intent data is targeting ad programs, used by 63%. This is an easy approach for making this data actionable. For example, some vendors that identify accounts that are “in market” can also help teams reach these prospects with advertising from within the same platform.
The biggest challenge for organizations using intent data is making it actionable (see Figure 3). Two-thirds of intent data users view this as an issue. Different solutions provide intent signals in different ways and help prioritize accounts by indicating current interest in categories or keywords. Marketers need help translating that into campaigns. Sales and sales development leaders need help translating intent signals into call lists. Even customer success leaders want to know how this data can help them better understand their current customers.
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