How Marketers Should Use B2B Intent Data in Recovery

June 19, 2020
Contributor: Andrew Conrad

Right now, as software providers and B2B marketers turn their focus to recovery, understanding buyer intent is crucial to survival.

The buyers are out there. Even during the current down cycle, the demand for business software is real. In fact, a recent Gartner Digital Markets survey of more than 5,500 software buyers found that 54% of respondents don’t expect COVID-19 to affect their software purchase decisions at all.

Understanding buyer intent means analyzing data points to gain insight on where buyers are in the sales cycle and which buyers are most likely to convert to customers. With that insight, software providers can optimize their marketing strategies to identify prospects with high purchase intent, retain customers and reduce churn.

Aaron Henckler, Managing Vice President, and Gina D’Orazio, Data Insights Sales Specialist with Gartner Digital Markets, recently hosted a webinar sharing tips on exactly how software and SaaS providers can use buyer intent data to help their sales and marketing teams prioritize leads, target the right buyers with the right message and increase conversion rates.

Let’s take a look at three highlights from the webinar, along with actions that sales and marketing teams can take to leverage buyer intent data during this cycle. (You can check out the full, on-demand webinar recording here.)
 

1. Understand areas where buyer attention has been dynamic.

Traffic across the Gartner Digital Markets network of sites revealed highly inconsistent buyer behaviors during the initial weeks after the U.S. entered the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Categories such as live streaming, telemedicine and web conferencing saw expected booms, while others, such as help desk, human resources and construction management, saw declines as workers traded traditional office spaces for home offices.

Action: Use buyer intent data and buyer intent signals to identify features that your target audience is searching for right now, then highlight those features in sales and marketing collateral.

Software and SaaS providers can capitalize on new traffic and attention opportunities, D’Orazio says, but should also initiate strategies to reduce churn in a few months when B2B buyers may start to examine competing products.

“You really need to make sure that these buyers who may have come to a quicker decision on this software than they normally would have are still happy and stay with you for the long run,” she says.

B2B intent data can aid this by helping software providers identify intent signals of customers who may be ready to jump ship and need marketing attention to point out why their software is so vital to that customer’s success.
 

2. Use intent data to prioritize customer retention.

According to the April 2020 Gartner Digital Markets Digital Transformation survey of more than 500 small business leaders, nearly 43% cited customer retention as a top priority over the next 45 days, more than any other priority, including increasing cash flow, cutting costs and securing financial assistance.

Why is customer retention such a critical priority? Because it’s much harder and more costly to find and secure a new customer than it is to retain an existing one, especially as the stakes have been raised by COVID-19. That’s why reducing churn and retaining happy customers is so important.

Buyer intent can help software providers identify the actions a customer typically takes before leaving, helping marketers implement messaging and incentives to head them off before they jump. For example, if customers typically search for a specific alternative before leaving, a software provider could promote content that shows how their product outperforms that competitor.

Action: Use buyer intent data to identify actions that customers take before leaving, then contact customers that take those actions with strategic, targeted communication.

B2B intent data can also help with customer retention by identifying features that customers search for before leaving, helping product teams prioritize and develop critical features that their software may otherwise lack. 
 

3. Build a strong marketing and demand generation strategy.

When facing the challenges of traffic volatility and the risk of churn, Henckler and D’Orazio recommend a two-stage approach to sustained sales growth: 

  1. Use intent data to identify prospective buyers with high purchase intent.
  2. Leverage buyer data insights to craft marketing strategies that promote retention and growth.
     

“It’s so important to make sure that you’re spending time reaching out to prospects who are actively in-market searching for a solution today,” D’Orazio said. Buyer intent data empowers marketing and sales teams to “identify prospects who look great on paper but are also demonstrating behaviors that have a high probability of filling out a form and converting into a lead.”

Action: Use buyer intent data and buyer intent signals to identify features that your target audience is searching for right now, then highlight those features in sales and marketing collateral.

This is more important in the current climate because the market is rich with prospects who need software to immediately help their businesses recover from COVID-19 and who are ready to buy. Simply put, software providers that aren’t using intent data to identify buyers who are ready to convert will lose sales to providers that are.


Read more about the power of buyer intent and how this technology can boost sales teams’ advantage.
 

Methodology

The software buyer survey referenced in this article was conducted by GetApp from March 25 to April 5, 2020 and included more than 5,500 respondents. The respondents were website visitors on getapp.com, and the number of respondents varied by question.

The digital transformation survey referenced in this article was conducted by GetApp in April 2020 among 503 respondents who reported executive leadership roles at small businesses with 250 or fewer employees.
 

Andrew Conrad
Andrew is a Senior Content Writer for Gartner Digital Markets, where he writes about small business and technology with a focus on retail. He has also covered everything from accounting to church management to project management. Andrew and his wife, Emily, live in Austin with their rescue dog, Piper, who loves hiking on the Greenbelt Trail. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn.

Get the Gartner Digital Markets Newsletter

By clicking the "Subscribe" button, you are agreeing to the Gartner Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.