Knowing when buyers are actively researching online for a solution, and which products and services they are interested in based on what web content they’re consuming, is key to understanding their intent. So key, that this data is quite rationally called, “Intent Data.”
It’s easy to see how one could use this intent data to their advantage and attract new business, or even deepen relationships with existing customers. Though, as the title of this article would suggest, there are some pitfalls to avoid, and we’re here to help you avoid them.
Pitfall 1: Lacking confidence in the data
Not all intent data is created equal. Literally. You need to ensure that the data you’re compiling actually shows the intent you are interested in, and you have to make sure the source of said data is reliable.
Think of it like online dating—would you rather get your information from a vetted, accurate, and trustworthy source, or would you rather the data seem sketchy?
While that may seem like a total no-brainer, it can be a big pitfall if not adequately looked into at the start.
Addressing it means knowing if your data is credible, whether it’s first or third-person alike. Plus, knowing that the data collection methods are appropriately privacy compliant. Then capturing data with the right tools like a CRM platform tracking all the right things and funneling prospects to the right information, people, and teams. Two recommendations are 6sense of Terminus.
With the right foundation in place, you’ll gain greater confidence in your intent data and be ready to act on it as it comes in.
Pitfall 2: Missing data alignment
The more data the merrier, right? Not necessarily. While more data (from reliable sources) is generally advantageous, if you don’t properly aggregate the data and have your teams in alignment on what to do with it, it can easily overwhelm you.
Having all your data flow into one aggregator, such as a CRM, gives the data an organized place to live. Once there, it should also be accessible by all parties involved, i.e. sales and marketing teams.
Speaking of your sales and marketing teams, they should be aligned on:
- How to qualify intent data
- How to segment and prioritize accounts based on intent data
- How to engage target accounts based on intent data
- How and when to transition accounts from marketing to sales based on intent data and buying stage alignment
Marketing’s ABM efforts will include 1:many, 1:few, and 1:1 campaigns that at some point will overlap with sales efforts. These two teams need to align around when efforts will overlap and how they will work in unison.
Pitfall 3: Not starting with baseline performance metrics
Understanding the impact of intent data on your marketing efforts is very important. To get an understanding of that, you need to start with a baseline of performance metrics.
Baseline metrics to focus on include:
- Conversion to sales qualified accounts
- SQAs to pipeline opportunities
- Pipeline opportunities to closed/won
- Average deal size
- Marketing channel lead attribution
With these metrics in place, and once measured, you’ll be able to understand what is and isn’t working with your intent data-driven marketing efforts, and be able to pivot and adjust to get the most effective leads.
Pitfall 4: Not having a strategy in place to leverage intent
71% of B2B organizations are collecting buyer signals, but more than half of those organizations are not operationalizing the data. - Gartner
Knowing you want to gather intent data is great. Not having an idea of what you want to do with that data once you have it is foolhardy.
Without a strategy in place before compiling intent data, you’re primed to miss opportunities, be slow to engage with prospects, be underprepared with content and marketing materials the different stages of the buying journey, and even boggle the partnership between sales and marketing teams to act on the consumer pipeline.
In short—you’d be like a toddler who wanted and then got a shiny new toy but had no idea how to play with it. Don’t be that toddler. Have a plan in place.
Don’t have one? We can help you with that.
Pitfall 5: Not mapping intent data to your buyer's journey
Much like having a strategy in place for what to do with the intent data you compile, mapping it to your buyer’s journey is equally important.
It goes without saying that buyers in different stages of their journey are looking for/need different things. Meaning that different stages will show different intent data or signals.
Take some time, think, and evaluate what each facet of intent data correlates to on your buyer’s journey. Then, you can properly align them and come up with the appropriate actions.
Pitfall 6: Missing lead/account scoring
Intent data doesn’t just show you who is potentially interested in your service or goods. It can also show you who isn’t. Or rather, it can show you who is likely to be interested and who is likely less so.
You can deduce that by scoring both your intent data and your account leads. This is accomplished by having your skillful marketing and sales teams dive deeper into data than scuba tourists to a shallow reef. Once in it, they can correlate intent data between deals closed/won and closed/lost with where that intent data came from on the buyer journey.
Similarly, sales and marketing should be scoring their accounts based on closed/won, closed/lost, and customer churn insights. Scoring will influence the accounts that marketing engages and moves through the buyer’s journey and sales pipeline. Additionally, time and money can be better spent on accounts that are more likely to turn into customers based on the scores.
Pitfall 7: Not having content
If it has been said once, it has been said a million times—content is king. This is more true now than ever before. In fact, it’s even more important when paired with intent data. Think of it this way; if potential buyers aren’t consuming your content, they are probably looking at your competitors’ content.
To put it bluntly, intent data provides clues and sometimes outright tells marketers what kind of content and topics their prospects need to move them forward in the buying journey. What’s more, it can help you develop hyper-specific content for your target audience.
Intent data can also help you determine what, if any, content gaps you might have. By identifying holes in your marketing content and then plugging them with the right materials, you can help move more customers along their buying journey in your direction.
Pitfall 8: Not aligning marketing and sales
Who needs intent data, marketing or sales? The answer: both.
Intent data affects both teams, starting with marketing and eventually landing on sales. That’s why they should both be aligned and utilize the data together.
As discussed above, marketing and sales should work together to evaluate and score the intent data based on both the outcomes you want and where the data uncovers deficiencies in the sales pipeline/buyer journey.
Both teams should work in concert to know what marketing materials they might need or how and when to most effectively move a customer further along their buyer pathway. Without the two working together, you’ll get an intent data sandwich with peanut butter on one side, jelly on the other, and ne'er the two shall meet.
Pitfall 9: Relying solely on intent data
While intent data is shiny, wonderful, and can lead to great insights, it’s not without its own inherent red herrings. That’s where some good old-fashioned common sense and instincts come in handy.
Intent data based on keywords can be very useful, but it can also be misleading, so you need to use some common sense when determining true intent. I get very excited when I see companies showing interest in our brand name, BusinessOnline, but I have to pause and consider that business online is a keyword phrase that can be quite common… business online payroll, business online services, business online degree. I use common sense and my experience to help me sort through the validity of search term intent data.
You should also rely on your instincts. If you manufacture car parts and a car manufacturer has shown interest in a specific car part, it could be a big opportunity for your business. But if you happen to know that the car manufacturer manufactures that specific part themselves, they may just be keeping up with industry news or trends. Your approach, or even whether you approach that account, will depend not just on the intent signals but on your understanding and knowledge of your customer base.
Pitfall 10: Ignoring customer intent data
The buyer journey doesn’t just end when they purchase a good or service from you. If anything, it becomes an even greater treasure trove of insights.
Continuing to monitor customer intent data opens up a cave of wonders that can let you know if ::gasps:: they might be looking at competitors for the same services, giving your client teams the chance to repair, maintain, or grow the relationship. Better yet, if they’re interested in additional services that you offer, it gives your sales team the opportunity to step in and do what they do best.
Either way, it’s important to remember that just because they said ‘I do’ doesn’t mean you stop doing everything you did to get them there in the first place.
Basically, intent data is a wondrous tool that can have a measurable impact on your marketing and sales efforts. Though like many wonderful things, it has its pitfalls that can trip you up. So take heed and follow these tips to avoid the most common ones.
Interested in a custom intent data ABM strategy? Reach out and let our team build the right strategy for your business.