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Sales & Marketing

What is Intent Data and How Does it Power Sales and Marketing Success?

July 14, 2022

10 minutes

Data is the new currency of business, and it's changing how we do everything from selling products to delivering services. But what exactly is intent data?

Intent data is a collection of behavioral indicators or datasets that offers actionable insights into your customer's interests and purchasing intents. This information helps you lead customers down a more successful path towards conversion or purchase.

Typically, intent data has three common attributes: 

  • Type: What product or service is the customer looking to purchase? 

  • Strength: How ready is the customer to buy? Are they actively conducting research or casually looking?

  • Recency: How long ago was it? Were the searches conducted this quarter (hot) or last year (cold)?

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Now that you have a better understanding of what intent data focuses on, let's explore how this data is collected and used.

How is Intent Data Collected?

If you want to use intent data correctly, then it's important for you to understand the appropriate way to collect data, and what kind of information can be collected. Laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) regulate how and what information is allowed to be collected. Failure to adhere to these regulations could result in significant fines.

Once you understand the rules surrounding data collection, you need to identify how you will source your intent data. Here are three of the most common sources of intent data.

How Intent Data is Collected
  • Independent websites or portals

Independent websites or portals gather information from their customers and pass it to third parties. Intent data on these platforms are limited to the number of visitors to this particular site (similar to the limitations of your company website).

Pro: They manage their customers' consent or opt-in authorizations, meaning the data is compliantly sourced. 

Con: They are unable to handle large amounts of data collection. 

  • Bidstream data

Bidstream data, short for “bidstream location data”, is keyword-associated user behavior captured using scraping techniques via ad pixels on public sites. Location (zip codes and IP addresses), device type, and ad-publishing data collected is then distributed on advertising exchanges. Since this data does not contain personally identifiable information (PII), it is often harvested without the knowledge of website owners or users. 

Pro: This source provides a substantial volume of intent data, allowing you to see where specifically targeted ad campaigns will have the best effect.

Con: Even though this type of data does not collect PII, it remains in the gray area because users still have to consent to receive targeted ads.

  • Publisher Co-ops

Publisher co-ops create an opportunity for all participants to benefit from combined datasets because they pool together from various websites and publishers. Consent requests are generated the first time a user visits, and then they are able to share their information with other sites, providing greater insight into consumer behavior patterns.

Pro: This source provides a broad, holistic view of available intent data and has the ability to determine engagement levels.

Con: This source has a smaller scope than bidstream data and focuses more on topic-based tracking versus keyword tracking.

Different Types of Intent Data Collected

Now that you know how intent data is sourced, let's look at the different types of data they collect. 

  • First-party 

First-party data is the information you get from tracking users on your website and marketing automation platform that details who's visiting, what they're looking at (or not), how long they stay engaged with your brand, and their interests shown through their browsing patterns. This "engagement data" gives insight into the buyer's journey.

  • Third-party

Third-party data provides an insight into the interest and intent of your customers and prospects across sites that you do not operate. This enables a wide view of what topics may be relevant for campaign focus, and highlights potential areas to target with ads in future campaigns.

  • Known

Known visitors are those who leave direct information on the company's site via a webform, survey, questionnaire, contact form, etc. Marketing automation platforms help you keep track of these users.

  • Anonymous

Anonymous visitors are those who view a company's site and leave nothing more than their IP address. You need to implement specific identity resolution solutions to market to anonymous users.

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We recommend pairing first and third-party datasets to form a holistic understanding of buyers' research, drivers, goals, and buying readiness.

Why is Intent Data Important in B2B Marketing and Sales?

Intent data helps to gain insight into a target audience's pain points and interests, which in turn helps you create more valuable connections with them. Identifying those early signals and developing targeted campaigns are just the beginning of what is possible with intent data.

Here are some other ways intent data is essential for B2B sales and marketing teams.

  • Influence the customer journey

Engage customers early, find buyers who aren’t yet aware of what you offer, and reach people before they even begin investigating competitors.

  • Empower your account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns

quickly identify buying signals and crucial information needed to help create tailored messages for targeted buyers.

Determine which leads are actively searching, and which ones are already engaging with competitors. If you operate in B2B markets, give companies that demonstrate interest and intent top priority (potentially before they even initiate the buying process), ensuring your company dominates the market. 

  • Helps retention

Gain the inside edge when your customers start browsing. Maybe they want another feature you don’t offer or are looking for a better deal. Armed with this data, you have the ability to operate with agility and intercept.

As sales and marketing teams find different ways to utilize this powerful information, the use cases for intent data will continue to expand.

How to Utilize Intent Data with a Data Partner

While buyer intent data is essential to influencing your potential buyers, sometimes the information you collected lacks specific details to take your marketing campaign to the next level. And, collecting and managing huge swaths of data to understand your customers becomes its own task entirely, taking you away from your main value adds. That’s why we recommend partnering with data experts like People Data Labs to use the best B2B data in the market.

With solutions like identity resolution and lead enrichment, People Data Labs’ unique linkages allow you to tap into our extremely high-quality dataset of over 3 billion profiles to give developers and business leaders high actionable data.. On top of this, our data is regularly updated and compliantly sourced. 

You can start enriching your intent data and give your marketing and sales teams everything they need to succeed today. Reach out to us for a consultation or simply give our data a try with our free API key.

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PDL Team

Founded in 2015 by Henry Nevue and Sean Thorne, People Data Labs helps thousands of engineering, data science, product, and other technical teams to build compliant, innovative, people data based software solutions. Our sole focus is on building the best data available by integrating thousands of compliantly-sourced datasets into a single, developer-friendly source of truth.