5 Overlooked Considerations When Purchasing Intent Data

March 22, 2022
Contributor: Aaron Henckler

Purchasing intent data helps B2B marketers find and target active buyers, leading to better customer acquisition, retention and growth initiatives.

The B2B software buying journey is becoming more complex as buyers’ behavior and preferences are shifting toward digital-first, self-guided decisions. Software and SaaS vendors struggling to identify prospects’ purchase intent and track the ever-shifting buyer behavior are seeking a deeper understanding of potential customers’ purchase intent beforehand to improve the buying experience. 

Purchasing B2B intent data from a leading intent data provider can help accomplish this goal. Intent data offers insights into what buyers are looking for and how their searches lead them to a software vendor’s website. It helps software providers understand potential buyers’ needs, streamline buying processes and build a consistent sales pipeline.

In this post, we explain five considerations software and SaaS vendors often overlook when purchasing B2B intent data. But first, let’s discuss the basics of intent data, how it is collected and why it is valuable.

Achieve more with buyer intent

Achieve More With Buyer Intent

Learn how buyer intent data complements your broader martech stack.

What is intent data, and how is it collected?

Intent data is a dataset of prospects’ behavioral information that indicates what they are interested in and what they are likely to do or buy next.

Buyer intent data is collected by analyzing prospects’ actions expressing their needs. These actions are online activities such as searching, evaluating and comparing products or reading online reviews. For instance, if someone searches the phrase “good on gas mileage car,” car-selling companies can identify the searcher’s intent is to look for a fuel-efficient car.

Three ways to collect intent data

What makes intent data valuable?

Intent data gives a more accurate look into potential customers’ needs by highlighting what they are most likely to do next. This allows software and SaaS providers to supply relevant information and focus on prospects most likely to convert.

Suppose multiple users visit a website with the intent of purchasing an item but do not purchase anything within the first five to seven minutes. In that case, the vendor must analyze the intent data to make required changes — could be the marketing strategy, pricing, product placement, etc. — to push customers to complete the transaction. 

How marketers are using third-party intent data

Five things to consider when purchasing intent data

1. Ensure data ingestion meets compliance and security needs

Data ingestion — i.e., transferring data from external sources into a database for analysis — is a crucial and necessary step in data quality management. However, purchased intent data is challenging to ingest because of its unstructured nature. Set up effective migration using data ingestion tools, which also help maintain compliance and security needs. Also, the data should be immutable for verification purposes.

After the cleansing stage, send all B2B buyer intent data to a customer data platform (CDP) that will create a “golden record” for each prospect and also help activate the data for marketing purposes. Encrypt the data to prevent unauthorized access during storage or transfer. If multiple users need access to the data, ensure your IT or marketing ops team creates a backup of the CDP.

Three ways to ensure data ingestion meets compliance and security requirements:

  1. Have a data validation process in place.
  2. Get people who understand technical details and legal compliance issues involved with the project.
  3. Have a data ingestion process for all possible data sources (including external and internal).

2. Check how new accounts will be assigned to marketing campaigns or sales territories

Say a vendor sells accounting software and uses intent data to identify which companies are in the market for its new product. But those identified prospects may not be within the vendor's target market, and pursuing them can result in wasted marketing budget and ROI on a campaign that targets the wrong audience.

That’s why software and SaaS vendors must review how the new accounts identified using intent data will get assigned to marketing campaigns or sales territories. They should determine whether those accounts' prospects are part of their company's target market. Considering that, technology providers can employ different account selection methods.

Account selection approaches

Three ways to assign new accounts to marketing campaigns or sales territories:

  1. Always match new accounts to an appropriate campaign(s) or sales territory.
  2. Review any intent data captured about those accounts and make sure it matches your campaign.
  3. Ensure the activity generated from those campaigns is increasing awareness for your new accounts.

3. Purchase well-structured B2B intent data

Today’s marketers have access to an overwhelming amount of customer data. Using this data is imperative to create an effective marketing strategy, but identifying the most important pieces to pass on can be difficult. This becomes increasingly important as account-based marketing (ABM) expands.

Combat information overload by purchasing structured intent data from intent data providers. Make sure that account, contact and opportunity data is structured for intent data usage and account-based marketing, as well as mapped correctly to your data taxonomy. The more structured the intent data is, the easier it is to derive actionable insights and generate revenue.

Three ways to buy structured B2B intent data:

  1. Purchase through an aggregator company that collects structured intent data from many sources and resells it.
  2. Buy from internet service providers (ISPs) that own the data from website requests and visitors.
  3. Buy from advertisers that use the sales data they gather to sell to marketing companies.

4. Review sales reps’ lead flow process and activity logging

Purchasing intent data is important to gauge buyer interest in products or services, but sales reps often lack the information they need to act on appropriate leads. Marketing teams see only 44% of leads as good fits for every 100 inquiries, according to Gartner (full research available to clients).

Solve this challenge by reviewing the lead flow process and activity logging for your sales reps. Ask sales reps to review each stage of the lead flow process and assess whether they have all the information and tools they need to act on high-priority leads.

This will help determine whether a lead is valuable or not and also identify which leads were actioned, thus saving time and resources as well as improving customers’ buying experience.

Three ways to review the lead flow process and activity logging for sales reps:

  1. Ask sales reps to log their activities in the CRM system. 
  2. Have a dashboard that logs all activities in one place.
  3. Use activity log reports from the CRM system or build custom reports.

5. Ensure intent data is mapped to your internal segmentation structure

While purchasing intent data from any intent data provider, ensure the data is mapped correctly to your internal segmentation structure so you can use the data for email and marketing segmentation as well as personalization. Internal segmentation refers to how your business organizes data internally to understand how customers interact with your brand and its offerings.

Map the data to existing segments in your CRM system or tag it as a new custom audience. Once the intent data is mapped to your internal segmentation structure, you can create campaigns for lead generation based on target personas and their respective online activities or purchase behaviors.

Three ways to map intent data to your internal segmentation structure:

  1. Merge different aspects of your existing segments to create broader segments.
  2. Think about each data point and how it would map to your segmentation structure.
  3. Align your intent data with existing segments to prioritize which segments you will target.

Generate quality sales and marketing leads with intent data

Intent data can be a B2B marketer’s holy grail. It is how they identify prospects that are truly interested and their real motivations for taking action. Since intent data offers the opportunity to get in front of people at their highest point of interest, it helps generate better B2B marketing leads and quality sales.

Achieve more with buyer intent

Achieve More With Buyer Intent

Learn how buyer intent data complements your broader martech stack.

Aaron Henckler

Aaron Henckler is GVP of New Market Programs for Gartner Digital Markets. He is an experienced strategy consultant and proven operations leader with a track record of establishing scalable capabilities in product development and insights generation. When not at work, Aaron likes to spend time with his family and break it down on the dance floor. Connect with Aaron on LinkedIn.

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