The Basics of Intent Data: What Is It and How Do You Use It?

One of the hallmarks of account-based selling is focusing on those prospects and accounts that are the best fit for your product and building strong relationships with them, so you can provide the right information to buyers at the right time. Rather than simply cold-calling prospects that might have a need for what you have to offer, you focus your energy on those customers who are most likely to buy and tailor your approach to help them understand exactly how they can benefit from working with you.

The trick to all of this, of course, is knowing where the prospect is in their buyer’s journey and their intent to buy. In the past, it was challenging to make these determinations, and sales professionals needed to rely on a combination of gut instinct and asking questions. Today’s sales teams are more data-driven, using information gathered from a variety of sources to pinpoint exactly whom they should contact and when. And one of the most useful types of data, one that can help you uncover the best leads, is intent data.


Intent Data in a Nutshell

Simply put, intent data is information about a customer that reveals where he or she is in the buying process and the intent to buy, based on their behavior and responses to your marketing messages. Although intent data has built a large following in B2C marketing in recent years, B2B intent data has only just started to catch on — but the potential is astounding.

Intent data falls into two categories: internal and external. Internal data is information that your company collects using its own proprietary tools. Customer contact forms, your own website data, responses to marketing messages, click-throughs from landing pages — these are just some of the sources of internal intent data that you can use to determine a prospect’s level of interest.

External intent data comes from sources outside of your company. Third-party companies can provide you with detailed and concise information about potential customers based on analysis of big data including shared cookie and IP addresses, collected from specific websites. Your company can request data based on specific search terms and receive detailed reports showing who is visiting what sites and how they engage, revealing insights about their intent to buy.

By combining the internal and external intent data, not only can sales and marketing more effectively target the right individuals within organizations to reach out to, but they can also create more personalized content to meet those individuals where they are in the buying process.


Using Intent Data

Once you know this information about your prospects, how do you make the most of it? There are many ways in which you can use this data, which is one of the many reasons that sales and marketing is so enamored with it.

Among some of the most popular methods of using intent data include:


Personalized content

One problem that many sales pros face is that while they have basic demographic information about a lead, they don’t really know a lot about individual roles within the buying process, the lead’s priorities and interests or other contextual information. By combining the behavioral information gleaned from intent data with the information you already have, it’s possible to deliver more targeted and relevant, not just personalized, content that spurs a sale.


Improved lead generation

Combining the intent data with your buyer personas and result from predictive analysis can help you uncover the best possible leads and the ones that should receive the most attention. This effectively eliminates the issue of leads that look great on paper but aren’t really a good match. Intent data also makes it possible to prioritize leads based on their level of engagement, letting you catch the most interested buyers first.


Turn the anonymous into the known

While information you gather based on IP address can tell you part of the story, there’s still a lot you don’t know. Intent data allows you to drive the anonymous user into a known one by personalizing content and recommendations based on the behavior on the website. Ultimately, the goal is to get the site visitor to reveal more information vi a contact form, allowing you to gauge the best way to follow-up.


It’s a cliché, but knowledge is power — and intent data gives you the knowledge you need to be more successful at account-based selling. By leveraging this data, you’ll be better prepared to address objections and demonstrate value and ultimately increase revenues.