By Brett Konen on January 27th, 2021
Using B2B Intent Data for Account-Based Marketing
When it comes to account-based marketing (ABM), data matters—a lot. Not only do you need to base your B2B marketing campaigns on a sufficient quantity of data (more data sets are almost always better), you also need to consider the quality of that data and how much it can tell you about your target customers.
Per TOPO, 80% of B2B marketers currently have some sort of ABM program in place—but not all ABM initiatives are created equal. Good ABM is first and foremost about engaging relevant accounts in relevant ways. The relevance of any given account may be based on firmographics (such as a business’s industry and size) or technographics (such as the software the company has or doesn’t have installed on their devices).
But what if you knew whether that account was already intending to buy your products or services? Intent data helps B2B marketers understand exactly that. Below, we outline everything you need to know about what intent data is and how your company can use it to grow your revenue and digital advertising ROI.
What Is Intent Data?
Intent data is all about finding and reaching existing and potential customers who are in-market for your product or service. That said, intent comes in different forms, and different metrics exist to measure it. A person coming to your booth at a trade show asking product questions can be construed as intent. A person searching specific keywords online can be considered intent. But the best, most useful kind of intent metrics for digital advertising success measure relevant intent—something that, when understood and leveraged, can work wonders for your ABM campaigns.
Intent can be considered relevant if the content being consumed by the prospect is actually pertinent to your product or service. A piece of content’s topic matters more than its constituent keywords here: For instance, your prospect might search for windows, but are they looking for glass or software? Relevance also requires the right timing: Is the prospect currently researching windows more than usual? There is likely to be true product intent if the amount of researching is dramatically increasing at a given time—and when it is, that time is the best time to reach that account with your digital ads.
More than half of all B2B marketers are already using intent data to increase sales revenue, and by 2022, Gartner Inc. predicts that this figure will grow to 70%. According to Bombora, the leading provider of B2B intent data, this type of data “measures web users’ behavior and can indicate what products and services they are interested in.” It is generated by business users’ online content-consumption activities, then aggregated and modeled to provide B2B marketing or sales teams with direct insight into which organizations are increasingly researching their product or service categories.
Bombora’s B2B intent data, for example, combines privacy-compliant co-op data from a wide variety of publishers, research firms, tech vendors, agencies, and event firms to provide a holistic picture of a prospective buyer’s journey.
“Intent data has become so critical to the success of B2B marketers because of the need to cut through all of the marketing noise, blasted digitally in untargeted, unengaging ways,” says Tony Mowad, VP of business development at Bombora. “The 2021 B2B marketing winners will have incorporated intent data to gain an edge on their competitors.”
What Can B2B Intent Data Do?
The effect of understanding intent is that you can spend your advertising dollars directly on accounts that are increasingly showing interest in your product category. They may already be considering your brand, but they also may already be considering your competitors. With the use of intent data, your ad impressions become more likely to convert to qualified prospects, because you’re already going after the most qualified opportunities before they ever actually enter your pipeline.
While most B2B marketers know how to leverage first-party data from their web visitor metrics, downloads, sales calls, and existing CRM contacts in their marketing campaigns, the reality is that most buying research will happen before a prospect ever visits your website. This illustrates the shortcomings of basing your ABM initiatives exclusively on first-party data—while your current contacts and site visitors are a great place to start, these won’t help you win customers from your competitors or allow your marketing team to scale their efforts as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Intent data sheds light on a prospect’s research process from start to finish, which lets the companies that use it reach undecided prospects before their competitors can. (It can also tell you which of your current clients are researching your competitors—a marketing superpower if we’ve ever heard one.) If your team is feeling like you could be achieving more with your existing ABM campaigns, intent data can provide that additional reach and help you avoid the feeling of ever being a step behind your competitors.
“Add a layer of intent data to show which prospects have grown very interested in your or your competitors’ products lately, and you can get more targeted with your marketing and advertising campaigns, leading to very interesting tactics,” says Mowad. “You can modify your nurture emails to optimize the copy for specific segments of accounts showing intent, or personalize your website and provide specific content and offers to those segments.”
Using Intent Data in B2B Ad Campaigns
In a nutshell, intent data helps you optimize your advertising campaigns with messages designed to resonate with specific sales prospects at various stages of the buying journey.
To provide an example of this process in action, one of our advertisers recently began using intent data to broaden the scope of their programmatic ad campaigns. They learned that not only could they show their ads to businesses in their ideal vertical, they could specifically reach the mid-level managers most likely to be making the call on purchasing their products, and they could reach them with appropriate ad creative at the exact time when those very managers were actively searching for content related to their product offering.
In this way, intent data can drastically improve a company’s programmatic, paid search, and paid social ads, in addition to lending itself to optimized email marketing, content creation, sales outreach, and more. It helps you get the most bang from your advertising buck and avoid wasting money on impressions from prospects who aren’t ready to convert.
To provide an intent data case study, Hushly was able to use Company Surge® data (a Bombora product that prioritizes target accounts based on their level of in-market interest) to:
- Lower their cost per thousand impressions (CPM) by 55%
- Lower their cost per click (CPC) by 79%
- Increase their ad click-through rates (CTR) by 498%
Similarly, Salesforce saw a 279% return on ad spend (ROAS) from their display and paid social advertisements when they used intent data to identify target accounts.
To access B2B intent data, your programmatic agency can help you build relevant audiences for your ad campaigns, which can be ported into whatever demand-side platform (DSP) the campaign is running through. This allows any data costs to be incorporated directly into your CPMs for that campaign. Your programmatic optimizations will now be geared toward your top-performing audiences for each campaign: These audiences are also dynamic, so they’ll be updated in real time as audience members engage with ad content and certain prospects’ intent wanes while others’ increases.
Targeting potential B2B buyers early in the buying cycle and continuing to remarket them with new messaging across all digital ad channels throughout their buying journey can keep your brand top-of-mind, ensuring you’re among the contenders when it comes time for the prospect to make their final decision. And if you’ve executed your ABM campaigns correctly, intent data may well be the difference between closed-won and closed-lost.
To learn how PrograMetrix can help your business leverage B2B intent data to enhance your digital advertising campaigns, get in touch here.
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