In the modern B2B world, no product is ever good enough to “sell itself.” Prospective clients not only want top-of-the-line service from their B2B partners, but they also demand an outstanding experience through and through—from discovery to beyond the purchase stage. B2B intent data aims to help businesses provide such experiences by aligning their marketing efforts with the prospect’s current objectives.
However, intent marketing isn’t without its challenges.
A study we recently conducted revealed that nine out of ten B2B marketing leaders feel overwhelmed trying to make intent data work.
In this post, we’ll explore the challenges B2B companies face when optimizing intent data and how to overcome them. But first, a short introduction.
What is Intent Data and How Can it Drive B2B Marketing Success?
In the B2B industry, vendors can no longer rely solely on product quality, innovation, and effective pricing. Their digital marketing initiatives should also be tightly wound to the buyer’s journey.
Businesses will only waste their time and money by casting a wide net and banking on catch-all marketing campaigns. And since B2B leads are not easy to come by, testing strategies without a data-driven approach is far too costly.
Instead, business should seek to deliver customer-centric experiences that match their audience’s needs.
This is where intent marketing steps in.
Statistics show that 80% of B2B marketers use intent data to deliver dynamic and personalized experiences to prospective clients. 39% of those marketers believe that it led to significant advantages. Intent data prevents marketers from creating tone-deaf content that’s out of sync with their prospect’s intentions.
It allows them to provide the exact marketing content prospects need to move down the sales funnel. This works by equipping B2B marketers with customer information gathered from first-party and third-party data sources. Browser cookies, for example, are used to track the pages that the prospect has visited in the past.
Another approach is to analyze the keywords used in their search queries to identify their underlying intent. Over time, enough data will be gathered to understand the target audience’s pain points, topics of interest, and goals. More importantly, intent data will paint a clear picture of how close they are to making a purchase decision.
The Challenges in Optimizing Intent Data for Marketing
There are a handful of key intent data challenges that service providers need to overcome to reap the full benefits of intent data.
Getting Quality Data
In a perfect world, B2B marketers would always be provided with reliable intent data that’s useful for demand generation and increasing sales.
Unfortunately, such a world doesn’t exist.
To make intent marketing work, businesses need to get their information from qualified sources.
First of all, businesses need to pick a data provider capable of pulling in real-time, up-to-date data. This will enable them to reach out and hook prospective buyers at the critical moment.
Data providers also need to be transparent about their data collection methods—not just to marketers, but also to users. They should only rely on consent-based data collection procedures while preserving their brand partners’ anonymity. A comprehensive intent data stack should include the following:
- IP address
- Unique cookie IDs
- Referring page URLs
- Browser information (language, operating system, browser type, etc.)
Furthermore, they should be able to provide clear insights on audience engagement. This includes pages per visit, scroll depth, scroll velocity, and average session duration.
Optimizing Marketing and Sales Alignment
Ensuring that the marketing and sales teams are on the same page is pivotal to a company’s revenue goals. It doesn’t matter how much intent data organizations inject into pipelines. Misalignment between the marketing and sales teams will result in a slew of inefficiencies.
For one, marketers may end up creating content that salespeople never use. And without adequate insights from sales, marketers may struggle to identify leads that are ripe for a call.
To bring these teams closer together, below are three strategies B2B organizations should try to:
- Dissolve data silos.Data silos may occur if marketing and sales teams use platforms that are isolated from the rest of the organization. For example, marketers could be using standalone email marketing platforms that generate reports that are incompatible with their CRM.
- Include salespeople in the content ideation process.Salespeople spend the most time with actual customers out of everyone in an organization. They should be able to help marketers grasp what a paying customer looks like.
- Use sales enablement.Sales enablement involves practices that equip salespeople with the resources, content, and information they need to sell better. This starts with sales enablement technology, like a unified CRM solution and content management system.
Absence of AI-powered Automation
With multiple sources of intent data, B2B marketers will feel overwhelmed if they don’t add automation to the mix.
Research shows that 71% of marketing and sales teams rely on a single CRM product without integrating marketing automation. As a result, both departments waste hours on inefficient processes that could’ve been streamlined through an AI-powered solution.
Businesses need to keep in mind that intent data and AI go hand in hand. Without AI, sieving out useful customer information from a deep pool of intent data is a slow and wasteful process.
Developing Timely Action Plans for Intent Signals
Ultimately, intent data is meaningless if a business doesn’t have solid strategies for picking and utilizing the right signals.
For most organizations, the main cause of failure is the lack of a multi-level approach to intent. In turn, they consider all signs of interest as “purchase intent”—regardless of how close that prospect is to buying.
B2B organizations can solve this by defining different levels of intent based on user actions.
For instance, the first level may encompass all users that are targets for relevant ads. The second level could be for potential leads that run informational search queries, like:
- “How to use …”
- “Benefits of …”
- “Is … worth it?”
Finally, the third level may include prospects that used search keywords with high purchase intent, such as:
- A competitor’s name + “pricing” or “alternatives”
- The company’s name + “pricing”
- “Buy” + the company’s product or service
Shaping your marketing strategy according to these intent levels is crucial to building effective follow-ups. Businesses just need to focus on providing the right kind of content or experience that aligns with the buyer’s journey.
Maximize the Benefits of Your Intent Data
Optimizing intent data for marketing is no easy task. In addition to building systems that process multiple data sources and ensure data quality, businesses also need to develop strategies for timely and impactful reach outs.
These challenges are just the tip of the iceberg. The complete list of intent data challenges can be found in our latest Benchmark Report. Finally, if you need a turnkey solution for your B2B data needs, DemandScience has all the tools you need. Request a free trial or demo today.