In a world where demand generation, and marketing in general, is more data-driven than ever, one of the hottest topics in B2B circles is intent data.
The lure of intent data is learning which companies are going to buy from you and when. But is that real? How should the average B2B marketer be looking to leverage intent data in their demand generation mix? I asked Charles Crnoevich, Head at Partnerships at Bombora, the leading provider of B2B intent data, to shed some light on where, when, and for whom intent data holds the most promise.
(HS) How do you define Intent Data to a layman?
(CC) Intent data is looking at what an individual or a company has recently done to determine what may be of current interest to them. In the consumer world, for example, if you look at something online: a shirt, a tablet, you’re likely to see retargeting ads trying to push you to complete that purchase.
B2B is much different, for a number of reasons:
One, the buying cycle is longer in B2B. Purchases are a lot more expensive and involve many more parties. This leads to a much longer decision-making process and more opportunity for B2B marketers to influence their buyers over time.
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Two, since the buying process involves many more people, you can’t just retarget the one person who was on a webpage. You need to influence and nurture people in multiple departments who have a say in the buying process.
Finally, because the buying cycle is longer and there’s so much content freely available online, B2B brands don’t typically learn until much later in the decision-making process that companies/individuals are interested in their solution. Bombora and other intent data providers can let that brand know when companies start to do research on independent sites, long before a potential buyer actually identifies themselves to the seller or even visits their Website.
(HS) Why has intent data become such a hot topic in B2B? What’s changed?
(CC) There have been a few changes recently. As I said earlier, buyers now have a lot of information to explore before they need to identify themselves to sales. Modern B2B buyers want to be helped by a salesperson only after they’ve come to a few of their own conclusions. Intent data can help marketers identify a lot of that anonymous research activity.
Also, marketers are buying into Account-Based Marketing (ABM) – they’re focusing energy on accounts that have a high propensity to buy based on who they are: industry, revenue, technology installed. The next natural step after “who could buy from us” is “who amongst that group cares right now.” That’s what intent data can uncover.
Lastly, the technology now exists to harness intent data. Between DSPs, DMPs, site personalization engines, marketing automation systems and CRMs, marketers now have access to platforms that can take in massive amounts of data and then action off that data in an automated fashion.
(HS) What are the most common use cases for intent data? Where do B2B customers see the greatest ROI?
(CC) Our customers leverage our data in a combination of ways. The four that we see the most are:
* ABM Ad Targeting: building “cookie pools” based on the right personas at accounts that are “surging” (how we refer to companies showing spikes in relevant research activity)
* Lead Generation: targeting these same companies through lead gen channels like content syndication, LinkedIn sponsored updates, and Facebook ads
* Lead Scoring: a marketer may know that a lead is the right title, at a target account, and even which Web pages that individual has visited. If the marketer can also see the lead comes from a surging company, that lead can be scored accordingly and passed more quickly to sales.
* Sales and Account Management: knowing which accounts in your territory are more likely to engage. Account teams use our data to know more confidently which company is a potential upsell and who is at risk of churn.
(HS) What are some of the biggest myths about intent data? Is there a “hype cycle” the same way as there has been around ABM? How should people think about what intent data can and cannot do?
(CC) There’s a lot of hype around intent and that it’s going to predict which companies are going to buy from you and when. Unfortunately for me (and most others in B2B sales and marketing) there is no magic potion here to predict sales. We make a very concerted effort at Bombora to dispel that theory.
We know that our data can help improve engagement across all of the use cases I mentioned, and if the data is applied correctly, that it will lead to more sales. However, knowing which deal will close on a case by case basis is a fallacy. Marketing is still a numbers game, and the data plays itself out over time.
(HS) Thanks Charles!