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Marketers have come a long way from posting billboards and taking ads out in newspapers.
Or have we?
Whereas digital marketing feels different to us, the biggest change our prospects are experiencing is a massive increase in the number of ads they're exposed to every single day. Your prospects are barraged daily with upwards of 10,000 advertisements (almost double the amount from a decade ago), and they're not interested in the vast majority of them.
We've convinced ourselves that targeting is the best way to ensure our ads get in front of the right audience, but we've missed one key distinction: Targeting puts our ads in front of people who we think should be interested in our solutions, not people who actually are.
So how do we find the prospects who are actively looking for the products or services we offer?
Enter: intent data.
Almost half of B2B buyers identify a solution before ever reaching out to a salesperson, studies have shown. And we all know how they're doing it: They're searching online.
Intent data companies (like ours) collect all the digital breadcrumbs those buyers leave behind as they're on their digital buying journey, and that digital trail paints a picture of which prospects are showing interest in your product or service and which prospects are not.
That, in a nutshell, is how intent data works.
How can you integrate intent data into your current marketing efforts?
Here are four simple intent data strategies you can get started with today.
1. Cut down the clutter on your targeted account list
Just because you want accounts to be interested doesn't mean that they're ready to buy. By using intent data, you can find out which accounts are most actively searching for your solution right now so you can spend your time nurturing the right prospects—not wasting time on accounts that aren't ready to buy.
2. Know exactly what your prospects are researching
First-party data is great, but it can leave some big gaps. For example, you may know who's visiting your site, but you may not know which of your prospects also spent their afternoon researching your competitors.
Combining your first-party data with high-quality third-party intent data gives you a clearer picture of your buyer's true journey by capturing what your prospects have been looking for across their entire digital trek—not just what they did on your site.
3. Segment prospects by keyword clusters to build relevant ABM journeys
Don't rely on educated guesses to segment your prospects. With a more holistic view of their activities across the Web, you can set up more personalized ABM journeys to ensure you're approaching the right prospects with the right message, exactly when they need it most.
4. Create personalized content targeted to your prospects' current needs
"I describe it as, 'We can hear them sneezing, and we go offer them a Kleenex.'"
—Ben Howell, Head of Demand Generation and Paid Digital, Americas, Salesforce
Your prospects' interests aren't static, and their specific needs often change from week to week. Using buyer intent data, you can keep your content relevant, so you'll have just what your customer is looking for every time.
If this all sounds overwhelming, it's not. Certain intent data providers can integrate into HubSpot, Outreach, Salesforce, and other platforms you're already using today to help you personalize at scale.
Ready to integrate intent data into your marketing toolbox?
Not so fast! Not all intent data is equal.
Providers use two main methods to acquire intent data at scale, and it's important to know the differences between the two.
1. Bidstream Data
Bidstream intent data is collected indirectly.
Users' activity is captured by an ad pixel in an ad on a page, not by the page itself. To understand user intent, the intent data provider will scrape things such as keywords and visitor information from the page where the ad is displayed and try to piece them together.
As you can imagine, that often leads to inaccurate and incomplete information, because it makes assumptions about the user and the page content, and it only works on pages where ad space is available.
An even bigger concern with bidstream data is compliance. Because of the nature of how the data is collected, you can't control whether users opted-in or agreed to share their data, so using it could put you in violation of GDPR, CCPA, and other user data privacy regulations.
2. Co-Op Data
Unlike bidstream data, data co-ops are composed of member sites that each opt-in and agree to implement a tag that captures the user information and content across the entire site (regardless of ads' being present or not).
That means the user data is directly collected by the page—not the ad—and represents true user interaction with the site.
From a compliance standpoint, data co-ops are much safer than bidstream data, because the co-op member sites can obtain networkwide consent before collecting user data.
Where is your data coming from?
Here are five questions to ask your potential provider to ensure you're using the best intent data available and keeping your company out of the compliance hot seat:
- Do you collect your data from a high-quality data co-op, or are you collecting scraped bidstream data?
- Are you limited to collecting intent data only from sites that have ads?
- Is your solution fully GDPR and CCPA compliant?
- Are you reliant solely on IP addresses to identify account-level activity?
- Do your data sources obtain consent from your visitors before data is collected?
Now get out there and find those customers who are dying to hear from you!
More Resources on Intent Data
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