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How To Use Intent Data To Drive Pipeline (Part I)

May 17, 2023
February 27, 2024
Table of Contents

All Roads Lead To Revenue

There’s no doubt that top of the funnels like traffic and opportunities remain important indicators to B2B marketers. But increasingly, high-growth marketing teams are held accountable for bottom-line business metrics like pipeline and revenue. 

That being said, driving deals is easier said than done. With limited budgets, tight competition, and volatile markets, go-to-market teams need an efficient alternative to make the most of their resources. 

Enter: Intent data

Intent data captures buyer intent so you can identify, target, and convert high-fit sales-ready accounts. Here’s what this means for your team:

  • Intent-based outreach, as opposed to cold outreach
  • Targeted ABM efforts, as opposed to spray and pray tactics
  • Deal acceleration for existing or lost accounts in the pipeline

When used efficiently, intent data can wring out every bit of ROI from existing marketing and sales efforts. The following guide highlights how to leverage intent data to drive more pipeline, with less spend.

What Is Intent Data? 

Intent data is any data that provides information about customer behavior and buyer intent across campaigns, websites, review sites, or more. There are 4 types of intent data: zero-party, first-party, second-party, and third-party:

  • Zero-party intent data: Data that a buyer explicitly shares. (Eg: demo form with Name and Email fields) 
  • First-party intent data: Data that’s collected from buyer’s interaction with a business. (Eg: Web sessions, page views, button clicks, etc) 
  • Second-part intent data: Data collected from another company’s first-party data (Eg: First-party data from review sites like G2 or Capterra)
  • Third-party intent data: Aggregated data from multiple sources (Eg Bombora intent data)

Why’s Intent Data Important?

1. Efficiency gains: Just a few years ago, businesses were ready to buy, buy, buy. These days, companies are far more conservative. Longer sales cycles, lower win rates, and shrinking contract values all point towards this. 

That's why prospects that are considering your solution are that much more important. However, only about 5% of website traffic actually converts — leaving the remaining 95% of visiting accounts completely anonymous. 

Using intent-data in tandem with account identification tools helps discover, qualify, and convert up to 64% of sales-ready companies already visiting your website. Tap into a pool of mid/bottom of the funnel accounts who are yet to convert with zero additional spend. Here are a few questions you can answer: 

  • Which ICP accounts visited a landing page through a search ad but didn’t submit a demo form?
  • Which companies are reading bottom of the funnel product blogs at least 50% of the way?

2. Early-intent detection: Studies find that buyers are 57% along the buyer journey before contacting a sales rep. Fifty. Seven. Percent! By this stage, in-market accounts have done their research and formed a rough idea as to which vendor they’re leaning towards. 

Intent data helps identify buyer intent much, much before a form is submitted. This gives teams a significant first mover advantage in establishing the initial evaluation criteria, building relevant relationships, and improving the odds for a higher ACV. 

It would mean beating competitors to the sales by reaching out to sales-ready prospects before anyone else does. While getting there first isn’t everything, it certainly helps. 

Ingredients To Leverage Intent Data

We’ve established that intent data is pretty valuable. But how to collect intent data? Who should be involved? And what’s a comprehensive way to leverage this data to drive pipeline? This section covers the tools, people & process that make intent data work. 

1. Tools

Here are all the tools you’ll need to identify, track, report, and activate intent data.

1. Intent Data Providers 

Data is essential to make this work. Start by identifying a handful of sources for various types of intent data. This doesn’t have to be complex or expensive, the following tools are a great starting point:

  • First-party data - Factors.ai, 6sense
  • Second-party data - G2, Trustradius, Capterra
  • Third-party data - Bombora, Leadsift, Contentgine 

Factors is a account intelligence tool that delivers industry-leading IP-lookup technology to identify up to 64% of companies visiting your website. This includes company name, firmographics (industry, headcount, revenue-range, etc), and behavioral data (page views, scroll-depth, button clicks, etc)

2. CRM

A CRM acts as a single source of truth to unify intent data for the entire GTM engine across sales, marketing, and customer success. You’re likely already using a CRM such as HubSpot or Salesforce. Other alternatives include Zoho, Pipedrive, and Leadsquared.

3. Enrichment Database

Once accounts visiting the website have been qualified for fit and intent, use an enrichment database to identify the appropriate people to reach out to. A few popular enrichment tools include:

  • Apollo
  • Zoominfo
  • Lusha
  • LeadIQ

4. Sales Engagement

The following sales engagement tools help sales reps and marketers automate the outreach process across multiple channels including email, phone calls, and social media:

  • Outreach 
  • Outplay
  • Salesloft
  • Klenty
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator

5. Internal Communications

Push real-time alerts to internal communication tools like Slack or MS teams when new companies or existing leads from target companies are live on the website.

We’ll cover how each of these tools work in tandem in the process section of this article. 

2. People

These are the stakeholders and responsibilities involved in mastering intent data.

  • Marketing: Assign a demand gen lead or program manager to stay on top of all things marketing
  • Sales: Assign a sales manager to stay on top of all things sales. Onboard a team of SDRs/AEs to activate the intent data by reaching out to high-intent leads and nurturing mid-intent prospects. 
  • Operations: Given that this is a relatively elaborate, data-heavy workflow, assign a mar/sales ops to setup the initial framework, ensure accurate reporting, and  
  • Data & research: While several tools can identify accounts visiting your website, it’s impossible to reveal the exact individual visitor. If possible, onboard a researcher to enrich company-level visitor data with the appropriate prospects to reach out to within each company. A researcher to sales rep ratio of 1:4 is recommended, but not necessary. 
  • Executive sponsorship: Needless to say, it’s important that senior executives are aligned on who’s working on what, and why. There must be clarity in terms of deliverables for each function involved in the process. 

3. Process

Bringing it all together, is the following 4-stage, 8-step intent program process to leverage intent data.

1. Stage One: Identify & Notify

As previously mentioned, there are several types of intent data. When it comes to setting up an intent-based outreach program, it’s best to start with first-party website IP-to-company identification data. For one, the website is the most voluminous touchpoint in a B2B/SaaS buyer journey. For another, starting with account identification from website traffic is a low-effort, high-impact initiative involving minimal investment.

The remainder of this article zeroes-in on leveraging first-party account identification data. That being said, the process remains largely the same for other types of intent data. 

Step 1: Invest in an account identification tool

When it comes to account identification tools, there’s no shortage of alternatives. Here’s why we recommend Factors over others:

  • Better data-accuracy: Factors taps-into 6signal — an industry-leading account identification to reveal up to 64% of anonymous website visitors. That’s 27% more than the likes of Clearbit  or Kickfire. 
  • Cost-effective plans: Plans start as low as $99/month including dedicated onboarding support and customer success management. More pricing details here: factors.ai/pricing
  • Advance analytics: Given that Factors is built on strong account analytics foundations, users can achieve granular visibility into website KPIs, visitor behavior, and account timelines.

Step 2: Filter accounts based on fit and intent

Of course, not all website traffic will make a great fit for your business. Refine the total set of accounts identified to just those that fit your ideal client profile using firmographic and technographic filters. 

For example, maybe you’re only interested in companies visiting your website that meet the following criteria: 

  • Industry: Software, IT, Education
  • Geography: US & Canada
  • Employee headcount: Under 500
  • Technology: HubSpot, Google Ads

But even still, not every one of these companies may be ready to buy. With Factors, you can filter down the list of ICP companies to high-intent accounts based on their  engagement. For example, maybe you’re only interested in ICP visitors that spend at least 60 seconds on high-intent pages such as pricing or features.

Filtering accounts based on firmographics on Factors

Step 3: Notify stakeholders in real-time

Once a criteria for high-intent, ICP accounts has been established, use Factors to push real-time alerts on Slack, MS teams, or Email when accounts that match this criteria are live on the site. This notification may be shared with sales reps to take action while the iron’s still hot.

Phew…this is a pretty involved read so we’ve split the remaining three stages of this intent program here: How To Use Intent Data To Drive Pipeline Part II. Read on to understand how to enrich, engage, and convert sales-ready accounts with intent-data and account identification.

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