What is Intent Data? How to Turn Signals into Action

Modern go-to-market teams have the tools, data, and tactics that would make their predecessors wildly jealous. But if their timing isn’t right, all of those advantages can quickly go out the window.

Prospects who love your product may not be ready to buy. Buyers who are in the market today probably haven’t asked for a meeting. And those somewhere in the middle could be swayed — if you can reach them.

Intent data is the key that helps B2B sales and marketing leaders separate the ready from the rest. Intent shines a light on the digital signals that businesses generate as they move through the buyer’s journey, giving GTM professionals a hyper-efficient way to target accounts that are getting ready to purchase.

Results from our Customer Impact Report substantiate the power of intent data: 62% of marketers agree that they’ve been able to engage more in-market accounts based on their website activity. 
Here’s how to make the most of the intent data advantage — and how to distinguish the best B2B intent data provider for your business.

What is Intent Data?

Intent data is a type of market intelligence that shows which leads or accounts are actively researching topics related to your business. When research on a particular topic is higher than usual, the account “spikes” on those topics.

Sales and marketing teams armed with these behavioral signals can then prioritize accounts that are spiking on relevant topics over equally qualified accounts that don’t show intent. When used correctly, B2B intent data boosts conversions and sales.

What Are the Different Types of Intent Data?

There are three different types of intent data:

  • First-party intent data is used for account tracking features, such as WebSights and FormComplete. Contacts may come to your website and complete a form or check out high-ranking pages, such as the pricing page. These data points are submitted by the users and indicate active engagement. 
  • Second-party intent data refers to engagement insights that are collected from a partner, such as G2, or outside news sources, like Scoops. Often, these insights integrate into the intent provider you’re using and provide insights into account engagement with your business on a partner website.
  • Third-party intent data is collected from a variety of outside sources that provide a broader view of an account’s online activity. Often, businesses will use bidstream data as their third-party data source. ZoomInfo Intent surfaces accounts that research topics relevant to your business through the online consumption of product reviews, infographics and blogs, product comparisons, message boards, case studies, and general news.

We think of intent data across a continuum of signal strength:

  • Derived intent signals are a mix of first-party and third-party signals. These offer insights into behaviors that indicate interest in a company, such as ad engagement, web activity, topic engagement, and technology use.
  • Known intent is what we like to think of as zero-party intent — ZoomInfo partners with Qualtrics each year to survey millions of business professionals, who are incentivized to share the key priorities, projects, and pain points at their companies.
  • Champion moves are perhaps the most actionable form of intent data.  ZoomInfo identifies buyers and power users who have moved and can influence future sales.

Each type of intent data brings a unique perspective to your go-to-market strategy. When used in tandem, you’ll be able to reach more buyers at the right time.

How is Buyer Intent Data Collected?

Intent data comprises billions of online browsing events that are logged across different digital platforms when prospects research products and solutions. Typical sources include review sites, news articles, and product research. 

Aggregating these activities over time creates a baseline for each company’s average content consumption, and allows intent data systems to recognize when activity or interest around a certain topic is notably higher than normal.

To generate a “spike,” data vendors’ algorithms typically factor in several indicators, including:

  • Amount of content consumed
  • Number of consumers
  • Types of content consumed
  • Time on page
  • Scroll speed

Intent data is often paired with firmographic and technographic data, along with other data which narrow the list of accounts to just those that are high-fit.

Understanding the intent behind customers’ actions allows businesses to tailor their products and services accordingly, resulting in enhanced customer satisfaction, increased engagement, and improved conversion rates.

Why is Intent Data Important for B2B Sales and Marketing?

Sales and marketing teams can rely on intent data to ensure effective go-to-market strategies, accurate customer segmentation, and personalized outreach to the right people.

Sales and marketing teams can use intent data to:

  1. Identify interest: Purchase-intent signals help identify which companies are actively researching your solution before they fill out a form on your site or engage with your sales and marketing teams.
  2. Build targeted lists: Sales and marketing teams can dynamically filter outreach lists for accounts that show active interest.
  3. Personalize the customer experience: Marketing and sales teams can better coordinate personalized outreach across the entire buying journey based on intent signals.
  4. Lead scoring and prioritization: Use predictive purchase data to weigh your lead scoring model. Give priority to companies that demonstrate interest and purchase intent — before they initiate the buying process with a competitor.
  5. Analyze and retain customers: Intent data also provides real-time visibility into existing customers, so you can proactively identify pain points ahead of renewal conversations.

Most B2B customers prefer to research independently online. Whether you’re looking to incorporate intent data in your sales strategy or use intent data in your ABM strategy, you can confidently initiate contact with buyers at the right time in the buying journey.

How to Activate Intent Data

Intent data becomes most valuable when it’s embedded in every step of your go-to-market strategy. Here are the top three ways ZoomInfo can help your business incorporate intent data into your broader strategy:

1. Data Foundation

Having strong foundational data is essential for a modern go-to-market strategy. Intent data threads a needle between the demographic, firmographic, and technographic data points in your data platform, reducing the amount of time that would normally be spent on processing and analysis across data types. 

When all of these data points are used together, you can get a clear picture of all of the accounts in your total addressable market and which ones are worth prioritizing at that moment.

2. Workflows

With ZoomInfo Workflows, you can automate important but time-consuming steps in your go-to-market strategy, such as uploading new contact information to your CRM or adding contacts to an email sequence.

Building workflows that are powered by accurate, actionable intent data takes automation to the next level. Intent-driven workflows boost productivity, actionability, and scalability because the signals are happening in real-time. That way, your teams can act fast on target market changes that signal when a key account is interested in your product or service. 

3. GTM Plays

Take automation even further by activating GTM Plays. Take a page from our modern go-to-market playbook to launch coordinated sales and marketing campaigns at scale. 

You can set up triggers based on intent signals, such as a key account downloading relevant content on your website. GTM Plays save your team time, increase efficiency, and ensure that prospects are engaged at exactly the right time in the buyer’s journey. Plus, you can scale plays over time based on varying levels of complexity.

Get Ahead of the Competition with Intent Data

Having access to high-quality intent data can make or break any modern go-to-market strategy. When it comes to evaluating intent data providers, there are three priorities to consider:

  1. Data Quality: Make sure that the intent data provider you choose has broad coverage and granular insights. Low-quality or inaccurate intent data will create more headaches for your business in the long term.
  2. Functionality: You’ll want to be sure the intent data is updated regularly, and can be customized over time as priorities change. Review your internal processes and identify the gaps that you’d like to close with intent data.
  3. Platform: Intent data becomes much more valuable for your business when it’s part of a go-to-market platform. This ensures the data integrates with every piece of your tech stack and can be used across the entire customer journey. 

ZoomInfo has been at the forefront of delivering actionable buying signals since 2014, and we’ve continued to invest heavily in our technology — advancing our natural language processing capabilities and adding significantly to our IP-to-Domain matching systems. 

Not all intent is built the same. ZoomInfo Intent is ranked number one by G2 and is a trusted partner for businesses looking to power more efficient marketing campaigns.

Intent signals are one of the many data points that power our ABM platform and sales automation solutions. Learn more about ZoomInfo’s intent data advantage today — and take control of the conversation when your buyers are ready.