Leverage Intent Data In Your Marketing and Retargeting Campaigns

October 27, 2020
Contributor: Samantha Bonanno

What is intent data and how can it inform your marketing and retargeting campaigns?

Every sales professional knows the frustration of a promising lead that goes cold. Each hour and resource previously put into that lead are now worthless investments. Could intent data make these old leads viable again? 

New technologies have begun to revolutionize retargeting strategies, breathing new life into dead-end leads. 

With access to buyer intent data, you can analyze real and current behavior trends in your customer base, empowering them to make better marketing decisions when targeting and retargeting potential customers.

What is retargeting? 

Customer retargeting (sometimes also called retargeted marketing) is the practice of revisiting stalled-out leads or inactive past buyers with a new strategy that addresses their reasons for lapse.

This article covers three foundational questions:
  1. What is intent data?
  2. How can behavioral data inform a marketing strategy?
  3. How can behavioral data guide a retargeting strategy?
What is intent data?

Intent data is observed digital behavior, collected by a company through first- and third-party sources. With enough data points, a marketing team and business leaders can map out how certain buyer behaviors signal movement through the sales funnel, paving the way for effective account-based marketing (ABM) and a content marketing strategy that better serves the needs of the prospective buyer as well as returning customers.

Buyer activity can include:
  • Downloads of white papers, case studies, technology publications
  • Website visits and time spent on page
  • Search platform inquiries
  • Attendance or signups for webinars
  • Product reviews
  • Subscribing to scheduled content (i.e., newsletters)
  • Downloading gated content assets, such as white papers or research reports

An individual interacting with digital media in one of these ways is likely signaling their interest in a topic. Such behaviors can be recorded and mapped alongside other behavioral intent data points to better anticipate what that company or individual will do next. 

How can behavioral data inform your marketing strategy?

With a trove of data at their fingertips, how does buyer intent data inform decisions made by marketing teams? 

First, this data can help identify target audiences and flag buyer behaviors that signal movement down the sales funnel. In a March 2020 report, Gartner warns that “many demand generation programs include target audiences that are too broad and ineffective due to a limited understanding of how to leverage data to develop more discrete, actionable targets.” (Full content available to Gartner clients.)

Intent data can help a marketer identify target audiences by analyzing that audience’s digital behaviors. These data points will show your marketing and sales teams how target audiences prefer to search the web and interact with content. 

Businesses should consult their data insights to find the most common qualities among their reliable customers. This should include characteristics such as demographic information, location and household income as well as behavioral patterns such as social media engagement and content visits. 

Once a fine-tuned target audience is established, marketers should turn attention to their content strategy. 

An audit of existing content will highlight digital marketing assets that effectively target high-value customers as well as assets that need tweaking or refocusing. Businesses should consider if the tone of their content is appropriate for their target audience as well as if its medium (e.g., website copy, social media posts or paid ads) is an effective way to reach the target audience.

How can behavioral data guide a retargeting strategy?

Marketers’ and sales teams’ best-laid plans provide a great foundation, but sometimes leads simply dry up. Maybe a disruptive technology popped up in your industry, or a global pandemic forces storefronts to close for months at a time. Whatever the reason, those unforeseen actors can fundamentally alter customers’ previously predictable behavior patterns.

In those times of uncertainty, circle back to intent data. Examining trends in user activity will provide an informed idea of the strategies that work and those you can temporarily put on the shelf.

Gartner recommends the following near-term actions:
  • Consider adjacent markets
    • Consider new, similar target sectors and subsectors to avoid a huge disruption to the pipeline. For example, a target audience with the same location but different age bracket may hold more opportunity for a business or service provider than its previous target segment.
  • Expand digital channels
    • Look to increase spend in digital channels to offset the lack of face-to-face in-person events in order to engage your target personas.
  • Reassess your positioning and messaging
    • Assess your positioning and go-to-market messaging. Has the impact of COVID-19 made your existing narrative less relevant? Consider refocusing your message so that it speaks to a broader business value.
  • Upgrade marketing capabilities
    • Determine if and where added investments could drive higher performance. In addition to cost, consider if additional investment in technologies, tools or talent could ramp up performance.

(Full content available to Gartner clients.)

Want a deep dive into how to best utilize intent data in your targeting and retargeting campaigns? Check out the “Achieve More With Buyer Intent” white paper.

Samantha Bonanno
Samantha is a Senior Specialist Analyst for Gartner Digital Markets, where she offers insight and thought leadership on marketing trends and best practices for small and midsize businesses. An Upstate New York native, Sam spends her free time backpacking with her dogs and holding snobby opinions on craft beer and single-origin coffee. Connect with Samantha on LinkedIn.

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