Keep Your Sales VP’s Hands Off that Intent Data
A quick internet search for “intent data” will turn up a lot of tips for how to use this type of information to improve your overall sales strategy. The current advice telling you to use intent data to drive sales might be missing the true value that this information can provide. Rather than passing it along to your sales team, there are good reasons to keep it within your marketing department.
What is intent data?
Intent data is a term that describes the information companies can gather from consumer behavior online, signaling a person’s intent to take specific actions. There are two basic types of intent data:
First-party: Gathered from a user’s actions on your own website.
Third-party: Gathered from a person’s actions on other websites for a more complete picture.
Optimizing your buyer’s journey
Picture this: You clicked on a website and entered some information to read a gated story. Now, your phone is ringing, and there is a pushy salesperson on the other end of the line. They clearly don’t understand why you read the article in the first place and only want a quick sale.
Alternately, you click on a website, enter some contact information to read a gated article. The following day, you get an email with a few curated stories. You click on a link and continue to get content that helps you research an important buying decision. Or maybe you discover new products that you were not aware of before, but that align with your needs.
If you were a potential buyer, which would you prefer? Most would pick the curated content and the ability to move down the path toward a purchase at their own pace, with helpful information and resources.
The best way to use intent data
Unfortunately, most companies collect intent data and pass it to the sales team, who will use it to develop leads. Instead, companies should use buyer intent data for marketing purposes to improve content quality and relevance. In a McKinsey survey conducted in mid-2020, more than 75% of B2B consumers said they now prefer digital self-serve options over in-person sales, a trend that is likely to continue.
It makes more sense to keep intent data with the marketing team and use it to develop a solid content strategy that drives sales by identifying their needs and presenting your products or services as a solution.
Companies that continue to push sales in person or over the phone are going to lose customers in a digital-first world where speed, convenience and autonomy drive consumer preferences and choices. This could happen for several reasons:
- Most people ignore or screen phone calls, especially from people they don’t know. A 2020 Pew Research survey found that fewer than one in five people (19%) answer calls from unknown phone numbers.
- Potential customers don’t read most of their unsolicited emails. Spam filters catch many emails, and your audience filters out most of the rest with the delete button.
- Millions of people have stopped using email entirely, or only use it sparingly. Instead, offices are moving toward chat tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Getting content marketing right with intent data
Simply collecting intent data isn’t enough to generate new leads and sales. But, using the information gathered from intent data can also help you:
- Clearly understand how specific actions translate to the information a customer wants and needs so you can build a comprehensive marketing strategy to reach your target audience.
- Prepare customized content that helps people naturally move down the sales funnel toward a purchase or action.
- Create engaging and relevant content for multiple pathways to reach your end goal of conversions and engagement.
- Customize content based on consumer needs and desires, leading to a deeper connection with your brand over time.
Digital technologies offer a lot of opportunities to reach new customers. But it’s always helpful to take a step back and make sure that you are using these tools in the most effective ways to connect with your B2B audience.
by: Byron Crowell, CEO and Founder
About Byron: After growing up in Tampa and playing college football at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Byron ventured West and spent 20 years in the heart of California’s technology startup scene. In 1998, he built the first internet-based mystery shopping company. In 2002, he co-founded RetailEyes, which was sold to a UK-based conglomerate in 2011. However, his first business love has always been always B2B marketing and technology via Solution Publishing, which he founded in 2001. Byron moved his family back to Tampa and is on a mission to bring West Coast venture startup energy and experience to his hometown. He loves the Buccaneers and Lightning and is an active youth hockey supporter.