Use Intent Data to Power Your ABM Efforts

November 13, 2023

Research shows that 87% of today’s B2B buyers prefer to take a self-service approach to purchasing software and services. That’s no sales calls, no pitches, and no demo sessions—just their own research and time spent discovering your product for themselves. Chances are, the first time you hear from them directly will be in the later stages of a decision-making, not at the beginning. And, they have likely talked to your competitors as well.  

The answer is not to sit back and wait (and hope) more buyers discover your product. Sales and marketing professionals need to be proactive in connecting with interested buyers to shape the narrative of their brand early in the buying process. The key to identifying those opportunities comes from the focused use of intent data in your Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy.  

Leveraging Intent Data

Intent data is exactly what it sounds like: information about your audience that indicates an elevated interest in your product or service. It’s an increased intention to purchase, demonstrated through measurable activities related to your offering. Integrating intent data into your ABM strategy gives you a better picture of who your most engaged audience is, and what content is drawing their interest. It will help you understand the topics, products, and messaging that is resonating with those most likely to make a purchasing decision. To learn more about intent data, Gartner has a great overview article.  

Any good ABM strategy begins with building a target account list. Specifically, targeted messaging needs to land in front of the right audience, and that is usually defined by a well thought out ideal customer profile (ICP). This includes your target audience’s firmographic profile—company size, industry, revenue range, etc. But that’s just the starting point.

Basic analysis of your expected market is no guarantee of conversions, and there may well be significant potential customers that don’t fit that mold. Intent data allows you to build on your ICP and other research to identify the companies that are searching for, engaging with, and responding to your content.  

The best source of this data tends to be your website, but it goes much wider. It’s essential that your ABM and customer intelligence platform is robust enough to capture intent signals from both your website and third-party digital sources (such as Enlyft). This combination of data will create a better picture of prospects’ progress along their buying journey. Some of the key indicators you need to be able to track include:

  • Website visits and pageviews
  • Gated content downloads
  • Online searches
  • Industry-specific content consumption
  • Inbound form fills
  • Review site engagement
  • Webinar attendance
  • Social media posts

Collating these engagement streams creates an intent-based analysis that will help quickly identify companies that match your existing ICP, as well as identify prospects who have strong intent to purchase your products or services (but who you may not be targeting today).

Reaching the Right Audience

It’s intuitive to prioritize accounts based on their interest in your offerings. By identifying in-market buyers through intent data, your sales and marketing teams have a better chance of reaching them at the perfect time in their buying journey. Consider this example:

  • Company A strongly fits your traditional ICP, but there is no evidence of increased digital engagement from them around your product.
  • Company B doesn’t fall under the ICP umbrella as neatly as Company A, but data shows individuals from their business have visited your website, downloaded some gated assets, checked reviews of your products, shown an increase in searches for terms specific to your product, and are hiring roles relevant to the products and services you offer.  

Even though they haven’t filled out an inbound form or engaged with one of your sales team, it makes sense that Company B is the better prospect. It’s safe to assume from the intent signals that they’re in the market for your product or service, and so spending marketing dollars to get your message in front of them will likely have a much higher ROI than targeting Company A.

Once you’ve begun to identify these higher-value prospects, you can focus your ABM campaigns to reach them more strategically with targeted messaging.

Using Intent Data for Targeted Messaging

Intent data gives you visibility into who is interested in your products and services, and how they’re interacting across multiple marketing channels. This information allows you to tailor and test messages specific to their needs and interests.  

For instance, if an organization is visiting a specific product page on your website, viewing YouTube videos relating to your industry category, and researching competing brands, you can target them with messaging that speaks to their specific stage in the buying process by providing additional product-specific resources to help in their search.  

A simple but effective way to target messaging at scale is display ads. They keep your brand top-of-mind for buying groups, which is important. According to Gartner, buying teams can average upwards of 14 people, and display ads are a strong tool for making an impression across the group.  

Another approach is ad retargeting. Not every visitor to your site will fill out a form and begin engaging with your sales team. Research shows less than 3% make that kind of commitment on their first visit. Retargeting ads are one of the most effective tools for recapturing the attention of visitors that have shown an interest but not made contact. Integrating this kind of intent data into your ABM platform allows you to run dynamic search and ad campaigns by directing your marketing spend based on the level of interest shown, winning ad placements for higher-value prospects.  

Breaking down your website traffic by firmographic profile will also help identify changes in high-value traffic. Engagement with various media and digital assets gives insight into the content that is resonating with serious buyers and allows you to determine the channels that are driving the most conversions. These intent signals help you direct your ad budget much more strategically and identify underperforming approaches that need work.  

Fuel your ABM with Intent Data

An effective ABM campaign isn’t something you can set up and forget. Constantly monitoring and modifying your marketing is essential for generating meaningful leads and conversions. The insights that intent data provides can help you identify those opportunities and optimize your marketing to meet the buyers early in their journey. Incorporating intent data into your ABM strategy ensures your marketing spend is focused on effective channels and messaging that will fill your sales pipeline with high-quality leads, powering your team to a new level of B2B sales.

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