The Value of Intent

The Value of Intent

“Simply, the word intent can be defined as “purpose.” When people, or in this case, prospects, take actions online, they tell a story. When presented properly, this story gives marketers insight into the intent of an individual; his or her purpose.”

As noted by 6sense’s Ally Greer, customers tell a richly detailed story about themselves and their needs through their actions online, and it’s up to B2B marketers to pay close attention to the details. But many B2B marketers aren’t getting the full story because many conventional lead scoring and predictive analytics programs don’t necessarily pick up the more subtle signals of intent.

Intent data is so much more than page visits and ad clicks. MarketingLand contributor Alex LePage outlines several of the kinds of intent signals that are actually out there:

  • …intent is revealed by the terms entered into a search engine. What you search for is a great reflection of what you’re interested in buying, a simple fact that explains the monumental success of Google.
  • …intent data is often gathered through anonymous online behavior. Users reveal what they’re interested in by the sites and product pages they visit.
  • It’s sometimes said that it can be hard to glean intent from Facebook “likes” because people will often “like” things even when they don’t have a special interest in them. But social data extends far beyond Facebook. Every time we share a URL over email or “pin” an item on Pinterest, we’re giving off intent signals, and savvy marketers are getting better and better at picking up on these signals.

The good news is, recent advances in technology have enabled better access to these intent signals at scale, and marketers worldwide are beginning to recognize the importance of intent when it comes to improving lead scoring, targeting and sales.

In a February 2015 Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Magnetic, nearly eight in 10 senior-level marketers in the U.S. and Western Europe agreed that using intent data for targeting created value, and 67 percent said that using intent data for prospecting and retention would give them an advantage over the competition.

However, when it comes time to apply intent data, many B2B marketers are hitting a wall. The three biggest pain points related to data itself, technology and people. Respondents cited lack of personnel, inaccurate data, inability to gain insight from data, and difficulty in integrating first- and third-party data as significant challenges.

At this stage in the evolution of targeting, we have unprecedented access to rich data streams and billions of intent signals, and we have the technology that can parse that data and turn it into valuable insights that truly do drive results. Now, to completely realize the promise of intent data, it is time for marketers to recognize it as the new gold standard of targeting and focus on implementing the infrastructure and support necessary for it to do its job—identifying in-market buyers and informing engagement strategies to dramatically improve results.

Image via Sean MacEntee

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