How to Use Intent Data in Account Based Marketing

For years, targeting key accounts has been a cornerstone of effective B2B growth. Today, over 90% of B2B organizations believe Account Based Marketing is a “must-have” tactic, according to SiriusDecisions.

One reason is the immense amount of data that is now available to us to make account-based strategies more efficient.

When it comes to at all information on the internet, according to IBM, every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Within this massive amount of information, there is more insight about our buyers available to us than ever before.

Most importantly, it’s not that there’s a lot of data available to us – there’s more specific information available about individuals at target accounts that allows us to be highly targeted, highly relevant, and highly effective in our messaging. The Sales Intelligence market has grown enormously in both sophistication and coverage in recent years.

No wonder we’re all so excited about the promise of ABM. It’s more attainable now than ever before.

The Rise of Intent Data

There are four key types of data used to create target account lists for Account Based Marketing: firmographic, technographic, intent, and engagement data.

Firmographic and technographic data are both static information formats that help to concentrate your efforts within the massive amount of potential accounts. Intent and engagement data sets, on the other hand, use explicit behavior to indicate a more urgent qualification and fit, and help to prioritize accounts.

67% of the buyer journey takes place digitally, according to SiriusDecisions. Intent data captures this digital research and activity from individuals at your target accounts. For that reason, one of the most important elements of identifying Marketing Qualified Accounts (MQA) is understanding the intent of contacts at key target accounts.

Note: To tie the behavior of an individual, it’s important to using Lead to Account (L2A) matching, to analyze each lead and identify which Account he or she should be part of. That data is then used for analytics, routing, scoring, and so on.

What exactly is intent data?

  • When someone reads articles and/or views content on your product category in your space on reputable third party sites/content communities
  • When someone engages with your corporate social media accounts. Social media actions including follows, mentions, replies, shares, and clicks on posts all signify different levels of interest and should be weighed in your lead scoring model
  • When someone creates and/or shares content on social media on key topics in your space
  • When someone creates and/or shares content on social media on popular industry conferences or events in your space
  • When someone follows, or engages with industry influencers or brands/technologies that are complementary to yours
  • When someone follows, mentions, or replies to your competition on social media

You get the idea.

Who’s In-market, Right Now?

Intent data can uncover signs that a target account is in the market right now for solutions like yours. If multiple contacts in an account have been proactively searching for a new solution over the past 1-2 months, that information indicates buyer criteria and buyer intent. More importantly, it tells you they’re in the market now.

This can include any behavioral data that indicates the right activity, including:

  • Topics people at this company are researching on 3rd party sites
  • Participation in forums
  • Content downloads
  • Ad clicks

This data is sourced from forums, job boards, and similar sources. In addition, intent vendors such as TechTarget, Bombora, MRP, and The Big Willow can deliver a layer of insight to maximize your findings, depending on your specific solution and targeting criteria.

When you dig a level deeper and look at the type and stage of the content they’re engaging with, that will be some of the best data to indicate buying timeframe. Why is this so crucial? If you’re in the enterprise, you’re selling to the same 5K+ companies as your competition. If you can get to them when they’re actively thinking of your kind of solutions, you have an enormous advantage.

Using Intent Data to Define Marketing Qualified Accounts (MQA)

Companies can use this intent data to score target accounts manually, or as part of predictive scoring to identify MQAs. When manually scoring, applying proper methodology will help to ensure your process is more rigorous. Begin with the entire market or territory, then score each account according to the dimensions most relevant to your situation.

You may decide to weigh intent data higher than other inputs, for example company size or which CRM the company uses.

“When the Intent signals are really rich, when marketers can use them to see not only the account but the active players in the developing deal and the topics that are really interested in, that’s when they get the most value – by developing better strategy and content that, in turn, will power and trigger more productive plays.”
–John Steinert, CMO of TechTarget

Have you successfully used intent data? Or are you finding more success with other data types?

Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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