Knowing when a prospective customer is in-market for a B2B solution can be a challenge for B2B marketers. B2B buying cycles are often 12 to 18 months long and purchase prices can be tens of millions of dollars. Perhaps most importantly, buying decisions are made by a buying committee averaging seven or more members. In this environment, finding the right signal in the noise can be a challenge.
Enter B2B intent data to help
B2B intent data indicates when a company is in-market (or likely in the market) to purchase specific products and services. When looking at B2B intent data, it’s useful to evaluate it based on its intent source: whether it is individual- or company-level intent, the methodology for gathering the data, and privacy considerations.
As a B2B marketer, you should understand how intent data is collected, the difference between individual vs. company-level intent data, and how data sets are created.
Intent Data Collection Methodology
There are broadly four privacy-conscious methods for collecting B2B intent signals today that LiveRamp endorses:
- First-Party Marketer Data. This is data collected on your own site that indicates intent. This could include data points around individuals from specific accounts downloading a whitepaper on a specific topic or engaging with an on-site chat. Site analytics can help recognize when companies are spending more time on specific content on your site.
- Publisher Data. Data from publisher sites can be categorized based on the page content and context. The content consumption by various readers can then be allocated to these categories or topics and aggregated at the company level. Understanding the degree (or change in degree) of topic consumption by a specific company can be a great indicator of possible purchase intent.
- Social Sharing Widgets. A social widget can be used to conduct a survey to understand if specific employees in an organization are currently in-market for specific B2B products.
- Call Centers. Direct calls to companies can be used to ask which products and services they are currently researching or evaluating for purchase.
When evaluating different data sources, consider the types and number of sites where signals are being collected. Is the signal coming from one site that has broad content that appeals to many audiences, or are signals coming from multiple specialty sites that are likely to be industry or content specific? It’s also important to think about how you can leverage your own first-party intent signals combined with third-party to create scale and competitive differentiation within specific accounts.
Individual vs Company-Level Intent
Since purchasing decisions are nearly always made by a buying committee, B2B intent needs to be understood at the company level to be successful. Company-level intent enables you to tailor your campaigns to get in front of the right people at the right time.
Intent Data Creation Methodology
Different providers of B2B intent data classify intent and determine signal strength in various ways.
Content Classification. According to intent data provider, Bombora, content plays a significant role in B2B buyer intent. In fact, 88% of B2B buyers, influencers, and researchers believe that online content has played a major to moderate role in their vendor selection. Providers will classify consumed content based on keywords or topic identification using AI and natural language processing.
Engagement.Content engagement also provides valuable signals. Many engagement signals — such as how much content is consumed by an individual or company on a topic, how many people at a company are consuming that content, and how engaged they are with the content pieces—can only be collected in a privacy-first manner using site tags.
Historical trends. To fully evaluate intent data, it’s important to also look at consumption trends over time. Average content consumption varies by company and individual—a company may constantly be consuming large amounts of content on a specific topic or may consume no content on a topic, and then several individuals will consume a limited amount of content on the topic. Without taking into account historical trends, the first scenario will look like high intent and the second will look like low intent, whereas it’s exactly the opposite.
When evaluating B2B intent data, look for sources that can establish a baseline by company, and track consumption changes from that baseline, to identify true intent.
As a B2B marketer, make sure any third-party data used is ethically sourced and that all data used in targeting offers appropriate transparency and choice, specific to the country or region where the data is being used. Be sure to ask any B2B intent provider how they offer notice and consent and how they are in line with current privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA.
B2B intent data gives you the power to know when a company is in-market for your products and services. Use combinations of your first-party intent data with third-party data to get a deeper understanding of accounts. Use intent insights to customize creative and layer intent data over your ABM (account-based marketing) list to know which of your target accounts are in-market for your solutions. Be sure to dig deeper to truly understand how a provider defines intent and their collection and creation methodologies to ensure you’re getting the best B2B intent data for your needs.