3 Best Practices for Using Third-Party B2B Buyer Intent Data in ABM

December 4, 2020
Contributor: Rupal Bhandari

Use buyer intent data to discover who’s searching for your software and to inform account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns.

Information on software products, comparisons, use cases, reviews and much more is easily available online these days. It is almost a given that any B2B buyer, before making a purchase, will visit several websites, including the software provider’s, competitors’ and numerous third-party platforms. In fact, as of 2020, B2B buyers spend 50% of their time researching with independent third parties, according to the Gartner End-User Survey (full report available to Gartner clients only).

Third-party intent data sources

This is important because software providers might miss out on insights into who those buyers are and how to best convert them into customers. Third-party buyer intent data bridges that gap and gives software providers the opportunity to adjust their sales and marketing strategy to target prospective buyers with more precision and personalization.

What is third-party B2B buyer intent data?

Third-party B2B buyer intent data is behavioral information about an individual’s or company’s online activities collected across the broader business internet. The data is usually collected through publishing co-ops, advertising networks and individual websites, and it captures intent via search, content consumption, social media postings and comments.

Third-party intent data sources

Simply put, when a B2B buyer goes online to look up a software product, research competitors, read reviews or perform other selection-related tasks on third-party platforms, those activities reveal purchase intent. When used appropriately, this data can help sales and marketing teams close deals faster. 

Find more information on buyer intent data and how to use it appropriately here.

Using third-party B2B buyer intent data in ABM

One way to get the most out of third-party B2B buyer intent data is to use it to inform account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns. ABM is a targeting strategy where sales and marketing teams come together to identify a few high-value accounts to focus on. Once those accounts are identified, all content, product information, communication and outreach campaigns are customized and personalized for each account.

Combining third-party B2B buyer intent data with ABM can help software providers effectively identify and understand buyers who are actively researching their or their competitors’ products. They can predict buyer behavior that otherwise would not be visible. They can also better qualify leads and nurture buyers who are further along in the purchase process. 

All of this knowledge is a powerful sales and marketing tool and provides a competitive advantage for companies that harness it. 

When exploring how to use third-party B2B buyer intent data in ABM, here are three best practices to keep in mind.
 

1. Research multiple sources of third-party B2B buyer intent

Different sources of buyer intent data offer different kinds of information and enable integrations with different kinds of tools. For instance, one source could be monitoring monthly consumption events for users who are scanning content online, while another could be capturing daily buyer intent signals via exchanges on online advertising. One could provide direct integrations with sales and marketing platforms such as Salesforce, LinkedIn and Marketo, while another could require an ABM platform to channel the data (full report available to Gartner clients only).

Explore multiple buyer intent data sources and see which one matches your information needs and user requirements. Also, try to answer these questions:

  • Are geography-specific intent signals important?

  • What kind of intent-related alerts will be useful for the sales and marketing teams?

  • How important is it to get intent signals in near-real time versus weekly batch updates?

2. Use intent data to drive content decisions 

Providing content to support buyer research at various stages of the buying cycle is crucial to successful nurture and conversion. With the help of third-party B2B buyer intent data, marketers can understand content consumption patterns that buyers show on third-party websites. Marketers can then use these insights to effectively personalize content and messaging for each prospective buyer. 

For instance, if a buyer has not opened campaign emails in a while but has been researching competitors on third-party platforms, then running a campaign with re-engagement content might be a good idea. Similarly, for buyers in the exploration and evaluation stages of the buying process, teams can adjust the content and the campaign messaging to better reach and engage that audience. 
 

3. Prepare ahead for privacy and regulatory concerns

Capturing and using third-party B2B buyer intent data faces headwinds from privacy advocates and government regulators as awareness and concerns around online data collection grow. 

Although website cookies have been the go-to method to track online behavior for the past two decades, rising concerns with cookies are nudging a change in standard industry practices. For instance, smart cookie-blocking technology like Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) now block third-party cookies by default. 

Regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) also changed the way marketers deploy third-party tracking cookies and collect contact information. They now require overt acceptance of tracking cookies, making it more difficult to track buyers around the internet. 

In such a climate, it is crucial to stay informed on the latest privacy and regulatory developments. It is also important to think ahead and ensure that all third-party B2B buyer intent data used is obtained and processed with caution.

For software providers looking to use third-party B2B buyer intent data, here is a quick checklist:

  • Determine if the time is right to revamp marketing practices to incorporate third-party buyer intent data

  • Evaluate the primary use case of third-party buyer intent and some possible direct benefits for the business over the short and long terms

  • Gauge what resources will be needed, such as new skills or a budget for technology, consultants or data sources

Once this evaluation is done, prepare for organizational alignment. It is critical to understand which stakeholders must be informed of the plan and what approvals might be required. With all this in place, software providers can optimize their marketing strategies to identify prospective buyers with high purchase intent, retain customers and reduce churn. 

Discover all that buyer intent data shows, and how to leverage it to enhance sales and marketing with our white paper, “Achieve More With Buyer Intent.”
 

Rupal Bhandari

Rupal Bhandari covers sales and account management markets. She received her master’s degree from the University of Delhi, India, and has created content for some of the world’s leading technology products and companies. Connect with Rupal on LinkedIn.

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