Recently, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about intent data from account-based marketing (ABM) practitioners. If you’re a modern marketer, then you’re well aware that intent has been the hot topic of 2019, and its role in running a successful ABM program is only becoming more and more important. Paired with ABM, the use of intent has grown increasingly effective, helping organizations maximize their potential to grow demand at the top of the funnel and accelerate pipeline later on in the purchase journey.
Intent data can boost a myriad of marketing and sales functions, from sharpening campaign messaging to alerting sales reps when their accounts are ready to buy. Marketers who have visibility into the purchase intent of their target accounts can answer central questions like, “When is the best time to outbound?” and “Which offers are most relevant right now?”
Combining intent data and ABM has enabled many of Triblio’s customers to more effectively segment, advertise, and sell to the right people at the right time. Customers have successfully used intent to revive accounts that have gone cold and identify specific interests early in the purchase journey, giving them an advantage over their competitors.
However, not all intent signals are created equal. Just because an account is surging on a relevant topic doesn’t mean it’s ready to buy. To learn how to use intent, it helps to understand the difference between the two types of intent: first and third-party intent.
First-party Intent: Reliable but Limited
First-party intent data refers to buying signals gleaned from activities on your website or direct engagement with your campaigns. Examples of first-party intent data include:
- Content downloads: Are your target accounts consuming case studies or downloading product data sheets to share with the decision-makers?
- Webinar registration: Are key stakeholders attending educational sessions to learn more about what you do?
- Pageviews: How often are known and unknown visitors from target accounts hitting your website? What are the top landing pages for each account? Are they coming to your site from a Google search? Are they looking at pricing?
These first-party signals are reliable. You can dig into each of these moments and assess whether an account is ready to buy or at least have a solid idea of where it’s at in the purchase journey. Accounts surging in first-party intent are going out of their way to engage what you have to say, not just the category at large. Chances are, they’ve formed a buying committee to explore potential solutions for a specific problem, and you’re part of the consideration set.
However, the downside to first-party intent is that it’s limiting in scope. If you’re only looking at first-party intent signals, you’re not getting the full picture. Sure, it’s great that you have visibility into buyer behavior on your website, but what happens when they leave? That’s where third-party intent comes in.
Third-party Intent: Extensive but Noisy
Third-party intent data refers to account activity on other websites or channels, outside of your own. This includes sites published by media outlets, industry analysts, other vendors, and more. Some questions to ask yourself when analyzing a potential buyer’s third-party behavior are:
- Did they read articles on relevant topics?
- Did they visit a competitor’s website?
- Did they look up peer or analyst reviews on your product?
There’s plenty of third-party intent data out there, and there are multiple ways to track it from the bidstream to data co-ops. Vendors in both camps have a lot to offer. The question for marketers is, how useful is this information?
With third-party intent, there’s much more noise in the data. One of the reasons why we recommend getting intent from a data co-op over the bidstream is that it helps reduce the noise. Ultimately, how effectively you can use third-party intent rests on how well you can interpret the signal. When you see heightened interest in certain topics, it can be hard to tell if potential decision-makers are actively in buying mode or someone at the account happens to be interested in topics relevant to your product.
We’ve worked with clients to analyze third-party intent across the purchase journey for existing customers. When you match up intent signals to different stages of your sales cycle, you’ll have a better understanding of what it looks like to surge at 9 months versus 2 weeks out from the purchase decision.
To recap, first-party intent is reliable but limited, while third-party intent is extensive but noisy. What works best is to infuse both first and third-party intent data into your ABM program. You can use early interest to select and segment target accounts and send deep purchase intent insights to sales reps who are working accounts deeper in pipeline. Looking for tips on how to use intent with ABM? Watch the webinar that our CEO Andre Yee recorded here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew spent the last decade building high-performance teams in marketing, UX, and strategy. Most recently he was an executive at web agency Domain7, where he oversaw the full services stack, managed the firm’s top US/UK accounts, and launched a new product line that grew company revenues 30%.