The Content + Data Connection
10 Top Marketing Executives
Explore The Rewards of Integrating Intent Data Into Content Strategies
Intent has become one of the hottest topics of conversations among B2B marketers over the past year as companies try to identify and engage buyers who are actively researching their solution area.
Early use cases for intent data have focused primarily on alerting sales teams to “surging” buyers and providing intelligence on what accounts should be prioritized for ABM programs or lead prioritization. More recently, progressive companies are realizing the insights provided by intent platforms can be used across a variety of marketing and sales disciplines.
Since most intent data platforms can help companies gather deeper intelligence on specific areas of interest, as well which topics and assets are driving the most activity, several power users have already shown that there's big potential in applying intent signal data within content strategies.
To explore further how intent data and content strategy can and should be connected, Content4Demand interviewed a collection of the top power users and thought leaders in the area of intent data and asked them to provide us tips and examples of how this combination can be applied for maximum impact.
breaking down data types
what you need to know first
Choose a Marketing Executive for Their Insights
Creating Value-Based Buyer Journeys
VP of Marketing
Latané Conant CMO, 6sense
The Foundation of a Friction-Less Content Experience
Brian Giese, CEO True Influence
Tackling Topics of Interest
Stacy Greiner, CMO Dun & Bradstreet
Painting a Deeper Picture of Needs
Justin Keller, VP of Marketing, Terminus
A Compass for Your Content Strategy
Nirosha Methananda VP of Marketing
Relevant at the Right Time
Mark Ogne Founder/CEO, ABM Consortium
Insights Create Value When Actioned
Jon Miller, CMO Demandbase
Elevating the Buying Experience
Jon Russo Founder/CMO
Informing Content Based on Interest
John Steinert, CMO TechTarget
An Early Warning System
Breaking Down Different Types of Intent Data
Knowing what types of intent data are at your disposal and the benefits (and limits) of each is a key step in optimizing your content marketing strategy. Here's a quick breakdown based on our interviews with top influencers in the space:
Typically driven by your own websites, landing pages and other direct sources, first-party data is still often under-utilized. It can include both anonymous and known visitor data but is typically considered richer data because it doesn’t rely on aggregate views of outside sources.
Why it's valuable
See how customers and prospects interact with your content and learn what’s resonating in almost-real time.
See the information being served to the audiences you want to attract to understand buying triggers so you can build out your content library in response.
This is usually provided by publishers, review sites or partners you may be working with on content syndication. Visitors usually opt-in to access content, so again the data tends to be richer and privacy concerns are lessened.
Great for ad retargeting and can inform what kind of content you should be distributing to specific verticals and even specific accounts.
This has been the most widely utilized source of intent data. It’s been popular because it typically identifies companies who are active in researching your solution area—but maybe not directly on your site. Most of the data is focused only on company information and not tied to specific buyers. Some of the intelligence gathered for third-party intent data includes web search terms and topics expressing high interest.
Relying on one data type can lead to gaps in your buyer personas and content maps. Steven Casey, a Principal Analyst at Forrester, explains how different intent data types can work together. For example, most third-party data offers insights into the kind of content that prospects consume, he says, but that data is typically aggregated at an account level, not a contact level.
“Its efficacy can be limited with analyzing persona preferences or understanding the makeup of a buying team.”
Caution Flag: Data Do’s and Don’ts
These actions could include:
Resolving anonymous site visitors to an account by IP address
Identifying visitors as existing customers
Mining data from recent campaigns to find contact-level insights
Casey recommends first understanding what data you have in-house before moving to outside sources.
“Make sure to gather and analyze as many of the other intent signals as you can from your owned first-party sources—like website analytics, campaign data and even CRM data on closed/won deals—to start building a picture of buying teams and their content preferences.”
Randy Brasche, VP of Marketing, Folloze
Latané Conant, CMO, 6sense
Painting a Deeper Picture of Needs & Preferences
Stacy Greiner, CMO, Dun & Bradstreet
Brian Giese, CEO, True Influence
Nirosha Methananda, VP of Marketing, Influ2
Mark Ogne, Founder/CEO, ABM Consortium
Randy Brasche, Folloze
As head of marketing for a leading ABM engagement platform, Randy lives and breathes buyer journeys. And he believes COVID-19 has accelerated dramatic changes that were already taking place in terms of buyer behaviors and the role marketing teams play in engaging those buyers. He predicts marketing teams will assume the role of “architects of the customer journey” and take the lead in creating and launching “digitally rich and value-based journeys across the entire customer lifecycle.”
Here are a few of Randy’s other predictions on how the closer relationship between content strategy and signal data will benefit both buyers and marketers.
Increasing content's impact
Harness the power of first- and third-party intent data mapped to value-based content, offers, messaging and recommendations. Believe it or not, B2B buyers will welcome emails, digital outreach and offers from vendors. In this context, marketing teams must step up to the plate and leverage all the tools at their disposal to ensure that content, programs and campaigns are microtargeted, personalized, immediate and connected.
“Believe it or not, most companies today have enough baseline content that spans an entire customer lifecycle. Despite the best of intentions, the relevant and rich marketing content stored in a repository, CRM system or sales tool will never reach the intended buyer at the right time. This challenge is as old as time. Now that marketing teams are assuming the role of digital sales, the ‘I can’t find the right content’ challenge disappeared.
“With a solid baseline of content performance guided by intent data, marketing teams can then refine and build similar content, refine and eliminate poorly performing content, and identify new opportunities or content gaps that help advance buyers through their unique journeys. For example, Folloze will measure specific content performance across a range of parameters and datasets to better understand the content’s impact, resonance, target and usage.”
Increasing Content's Impact
6 Ways Intent Data Can Inform Marketing Teams and Guide Content Strategy
Here are specific areas Randy suggests that intent data helps to inform:
Which content and topics are performing best?
Which personas are engaging?
Is there a compelling event that’s driving demand signals?
Which videos have been viewed? For how long?
Which accounts are surging and increasing their engagement with our website or third-party web property?
Which content or messaging re-engaged customers or prospects?
Data will be at the core of this strategy to understand personas, messaging, content, engagement and other buyer attributes.
“When you harness intent data content that maps to content across the entire customer lifecycle, your conversion rates increase dramatically (between 10% and 25%), and marketing ROI improves.
“As digital salespeople—or architects of the buyer journey—marketing teams will use intent data to align the right content with the right buyers at the right time. Content should provide enough granularity across every stage of the customer journey to better understand the digital intent signals across different channels.”
Latané Conant, 6sense
The Foundation of a Frictionless Content Experience
In addition to heading up marketing for one of the fastest growing companies in the martech space (6sense recently announced a $125 million fundraising round), Latané literally wrote the book on removing friction from the B2B buying experience. The book she recently published, No Forms, No Spam, No Cold Calls, lays out a vision for how B2B brands will deliver personalized marketing.
Latané shares some specific steps companies can take in connecting
content to signal data to deliver a frictionless experience.
Using data to inform your content strategy means there’s less throwing spaghetti at the wall and more ability to prioritize what your team really needs to focus on producing.
replacing generic content with relevant experiences
relying on real data over guesswork
“Intent data helps us provide more relevant content rather than a one-size-fits-all experience. It will become an essential foundation for content strategy.
“Intent data removes the guesswork and the need for forms. Instead of relying on gated content to drive random leads from accounts that may or may not be ready to engage, you can know exactly where your target accounts are in the buying journey. And with insight into things like predictive keywords, you can know what information buyers (not just individuals, but full buying teams) are actually looking for rather than trying to feed them irrelevant content and at the wrong time.”
Replacing Generic Content with Relevant Experiences
“When you have insight into intent data and predictive analytics to show—with pretty damn good accuracy—what buying stage your accounts are in, when key personas are engaged and what keywords they care about—you can deliver a much richer, more focused content strategy that aligns to what different personas on prospective accounts are looking for. It’s also much more efficient for your team to build a strategy around real data rather than relying on guesswork.”
Relying on Real Data Over Guesswork
6sense recently developed a different video series for each buying stage. “For the awareness stage, we have two thought leadership-type talk shows, TalkingSense and Selling with Intent. For those in the consideration stage, we serve up our MakingSense series, which gets a little more into the details, and for our decision and purchase stages, we have our 6 for 6 series, which features practitioners sharing the specifics of how they use 6sense every day.”
“It might seem like adding more data insights just means more stuff they have to create. But the truth is, using data to inform your content strategy means there’s less throwing spaghetti at the wall and more ability to prioritize what your team really needs to focus on producing."
Brian Giese, True Influence
Brian earned the 2019 B2B Innovator People’s Choice Award for his groundbreaking work in the category of “intent monitoring.” He was an early advocate for applying signal data to help marketers adapt to the changing needs of both buyers and their sales teams, and he’s been ahead of the curve in demonstrating how the use of intent data will be essential for marketers to operate in an emerging “cookie-less world.”
Brian shares insights into how first-party data will become even more critical, as well as other forecasts for the future of content marketing.
revealing topical interest by account
contextualize content syndication to target personas
One powerful case study to highlight how intent data is being used to better inform targeted content marketing strategies is Imprivata, a leading global healthcare IT security company. As part of a broad ABM strategy, the Imprivata marketing team applied intent data to add critical insights to the customer journey, offering the opportunity to “check in” at regular intervals to see if their strategies continued to align with the customer’s intent signals. At each checkpoint, the customer’s intent data would either validate Imprivata’s current course of action or indicate a need for adjustment.
Armed with the specific combination of topics in which the account demonstrated interest, the sales team had grounds for re-establishing contact and the information they needed to conduct a conversation centered on an actual, current needs. This contributed to the team showing a triple-digit ROI on the program.
“Intent data can allow you to see an entire buying group, as well as their roles within the group. Forrester Research defines buying groups as ‘audiences that are activated to find solutions to business needs that match the selling organization’s solutions.’ Curating and monitoring buying group intent, combining multiple variants, has become a powerful tool to visualize the buying committee inside a targeted company.”
Contextualize Content Syndication to Target Personas
“Increasing concerns about privacy and the use of third-party cookies has forced the industry to restructure the way marketers target their customers. Platform publishers such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are eliminating third-party cookies from their products. This demise of third-party cookies will result in the rise of first-party behavioral data across all B2B marketing channels, forcing data-driven marketing and demand generation platforms to build wider networks to compile data from publishers’ content, Java script, and first- and second-party data.”
Revealing Topical Interest by Account
Stacy Greiner, Dun & Bradstreet
As head of marketing for one of the largest data and analytics companies in the world, it’s no surprise that Stacy has become a go-to source for applying actionable insights to business strategies. She sees intent data as the foundation for understanding the needs, behaviors and preferences of your target audiences.
Here’s how Stacy envisions marketers getting closer to having end-to-end campaigns fueled by intent data.
behavior you wouldn't otherwise discover
“We’ve been able to use intent data in our ABM programs to personalize everything from web pages to emails so that every account has a completely unique experience. For instance, when a person from one of our key accounts arrives at our website, we can not only serve up their logo right next to ours, but we can also serve up content relevant to the intent they’ve been showing. Another example is using intent data to monitor keyword searches from our key accounts and being able to immediately reach out with an email offering up a product related to the searches. It’s all about inserting yourself into the customer journey when it makes the most sense, and intent data is helping us to be more effective in doing that.”
“With intent data, you can learn all about the types of content your target companies search for, engage with and consume and gain deeper insight into the behavior of organizations in the market for your goods and services. And that includes behavior not just on your company website but also on third-party websites—behavior you otherwise wouldn’t discover. This information can provide the basis of the themes/topics for your content as well as the way in which that content is delivered. From account-based advertising to personalized web pages, these insights help marketing teams to deliver the most relevant content the way prospects or customers want to see it.”
Behavior You Wouldn't Otherwise Discover
“Intent data paints a much deeper picture of not only the customer’s need for your product, but also how that person may like to consume information, what interests they have, where they spend most of their time—just a wealth of information about how to build your outreach sequences in order to reach that customer at the right time with the most useful information. And with budget cuts and more marketing organizations trying to be efficient, this allows a more targeted approach from the beginning.”
Stacy explains that there are different types of intent data and since they don’t all serve the same purpose, she points out that a hybrid approach may be best for many companies. Here are some of the core types of data and how she has seen them applied:
for Different Goals
which is selected from a predefined list of topics related to your product and brand, helps you see some level of interest in that topic from your list of target accounts. This topic-based intent gives you the big picture, but it is specific to company domain, treating all entities within a corporate family tree the same.
Topic Intent Data,
is based on select articles and specific to individuals. This approach provides granularity on the job role and title levels. However, research-based intent is limited to specific content and many of the roles that surface won’t be decision makers or the personas you want to reach.
Research-Based Intent Data
can help you target audiences based on phrases relevant to your product family. A focus on keywords can also return account-level information specific to the location and buying center. Keywords offer more flexibility versus the constraints of a pre-defined topic. With that flexibility, providers can also leverage natural language processing and deep learning to analyze visits to relevant web pages based on respective keywords and determine whether users intend to buy or are merely consuming educational content. This can inform not only your content topics, but your means and timing of content delivery.
Keyword (Personalized) Intent Data
Justin Keller, Terminus
As a regular contributor to publications such as Forbes and Marketing Insider Group, Justin has helped shape best practices for ABM, multichannel marketing and the application of intent data. While he’s a strong advocate for the impact intent can have on content and broader marketing strategies, he’s quick to caution that brands shouldn’t view signal data as a silver bullet. “Intent should be a compass for your content strategy, not a map,” he says. “Creating and curating content based on the signals a prospect is demonstrating—either passively through research or actively by interacting with your ads, website and fellow employees—is the logical conclusion
Here are a few of Justin’s other tips for integrating intent into your content strategy.
consider the source
shrinking the universe
“If you’ve got a great set of content that’s germane to the intent topics that are most important to your business and you’ve got accounts showing intent, how do you connect the two together? The good news is that you can automate a lot of this. Build a content matrix that shows the different intent topics (fewer is probably better in this case) and the content associated with them. Figure out how you want to promote that content—whether it’s through a personalized landing page, a specific content track or even a chatbot—and present it clearly and cleanly.
“There are two primary sources for third-party intent data: research-based intent data like the kind you get from Bombora or G2, and bidstream intent data that’s effectively the exhaust from online advertisers. Research-based intent allows you to connect who (e.g., an account) to what they’re interested in (e.g., your content). At scale, that allows you to easily connect those interested accounts in the most relevant content you’ve got or inform you where your content whitespace is so you can create fresh, relevant content.”
Consider the Source
“Progressive B2B companies are getting really good at layering multiple different types of intent data—research, relationships, psychographics, technographics, etc.—to reduce their ‘total addressable marketing’ to a ‘total relevant market.’ In doing so, they’re able to shrink the universe of potential customers into a very focused cluster of accounts. When they’re able to focus their content efforts, progressive B2B marketers can generate much more relevant content and, perhaps more importantly, highly relevant content experiences that help shape the perspectives of in-market accounts who have just started their research."
Shrinking the Universe
“Being able to serve the right content at the right time—based on the opportunity stage and the makeup of the individuals within a target account—can shave days or weeks off a sales cycle. Here’s the catch, though: Once an account enters a sales cycle, the amount of research that can be detected by third-party intent begins to taper off because so much of their education and buyer enablement happens between them and the sales reps.”
That’s when first-party intent data becomes so important. There are two types of intent data to consider:
Accelerating Sales Cycles
Understanding what content an existing opportunity has engaged with helps your sales rep better frame their conversations and provide fresh, helpful resources to inform their decision.
By quantifying the relationship between the buying committee and your team, you can understand the personas that are involved in a sale, potentially highlighting gaps in your content offering you hadn’t considered. Furthermore, by providing your sales team with sales-stage and persona-relevant content, you can help them increase an account’s propensity to buy.
“Here's how one of our clients has done that: Based on that first surge in intent, they’ve mapped out different content journeys for their audiences to go to different intent topics. They’re delivering content relevant to the initial intent surge but then get crafty in introducing their audience to separate but still relevant content tracks for other intent topics. In doing so, they’re reducing the overall amount of content and automation that needs to be built and creating dynamic content journeys based on how visitors interact with the content.”
Nirosha Methananda, Influ2
With an extensive background in content marketing—including writing for a variety of business publications in Australia and the U.S., Nirosha learned firsthand how important it is to know your audience and provide valuable, relevant offers.
She most recently put her stamp on B2B marketing as head of marketing for Bombora, one of the fastest-growing providers of intent data. At Bombora, Nirosha helped build an extensive partner ecosystem that contributed to the company’s record revenue growth.
Nirosha shares these insights into how intent data can help content marketing identify areas of interesting, clustering topics by audience; the emergence of person-based marketing; and other ways to apply marketing insights.
clustering by topics
finding the gems
“As for the future, I think the only way to really deliver personalized/customized content is to move back to a person-based marketing approach. Being able to couple intent-data insights at the account level, and then to identify who the key stakeholders are within an organization and deliver content that suits their needs, will be quite powerful.
“There are a few businesses doing this today through sophisticated (and owned) CDPs. My prediction is that technologies and datasets to support this approach will become more accessible to help close the gap and further drive a personalized content experience.”
“There is so much B2B marketing content available on various topics, it’s like wading through a swamp to find the gems. Where intent data can help is to clear the path by identifying what your audience is interested in and most importantly, when they are interested in it.”
Finding the Gems
“The biggest and most underestimated challenge around intent data, broadly—and especially for content strategy—is around the selection and clustering of topics.
“This requires a business to have not only a good understanding of its brand, products and strategy, but also an understanding of its customers and what their journey looks like.
“Understanding how to cluster (or group) intent topics is another really important area. Usually, making decisions on a singular topic doesn’t yield the strongest result. Start with grouping Intent topics into three groups: branded, competitor and product-specific topics. And from there, build out more clusters aligned to your objectives.”
Clustering by Topics
The most progressive B2B organizations are using intent to help segment audiences and serve them content that's relevant to their interests at the right time. And to really make the most of their content efforts, they align their activities with sales outreach, which has driven some strong results, including:
average click-to-open rate of nurture emails
44% increase in BDR email CTRs and 7x increase in reply rates
$1.6M in pipeline generated by using Bombora’s intent data with Conversica
Jon Miller, Demandbase
As the founder of ground-breaking martech brands Marketo and Engagio, Jon has helped build the disciplines and playbooks for demand gen and account-based marketing. He believes intent data will be critical to content marketing in the future.
“Roughly five years ago, we only really had first-party intent data,” he says. “Buyers today don’t want to fill out forms. So they’re doing more of their research on other sites. This means that first-party intent data is becoming hidden from us. We need to use more third-party intent data to see what’s happening offsite.”
Jon helps spell out different types of intent data and how they can be applied to engage target audience.
finding the magic moment
personalizing particular stages
Applying the data
different flavors of data
“The real goal is that we’re always trying to be more effective as marketers but, most importantly, we want to be relevant and useful to our customers. If we provide personalized, valuable content to someone when they want it in their particular stage of the buying journey, we help them succeed—and then we succeed, too. We don’t waste anyone’s time, but rather help them achieve the outcomes they want and drive our revenue at the same time. It just elevates the experience for the buyers and the results for us.”
Personalizing Particular Stages
“Surging intent data plus first-party intent data is incredibly valuable to know where an account might be in its journey so you can find out the magic moment when they might actually want to hear from you. Knowing where the account is in its journey can tell you what kind of content you should use to engage with them.
“For example, if you have an account that’s a target for you but isn’t showing any interest or engagement, your goal is simply to engage to build your brand, right? You’re going to engage with them emotionally. It should be visceral, entertain or amuse them somehow; just form some affinity.
Finding the Magic Moment
“Most intent providers only deliver the trending or surging data, not the baseline data. So if you really want to use it for content, make sure you're also getting the baseline data.
“The other distinction that's interesting is that third-party intent data is always at the account level, because of privacy laws and so forth. You don't know that Mike the VP is reading this specific article; you just know that people from this company are looking at articles about the topic. This is appropriate, because you wouldn't want to be creepy and stalk people on the open web.
Applying the Data
applying the data
Different Flavors of Data
“First, there’s what I call a baseline level of intent. This is where you figure out if an account is interested in the topic at hand (e.g., do they read about it?) and is useful for general content strategy. You can look at it for your entire market and say, ‘Hey, what topics do my customers tend to care about?’ You can also look at it for a specific account and say, ‘What does this particular account tend to care about? And what keywords do they use to describe it?’”
"Second is trending or surging intent. This helps you spot changes: When does it go up and when does it go down? This is more useful for knowing when there's a change in the account's behavior, which might indicate a buying activity. Each type of intent tells you something different and can be used to direct your next steps in an informed and more effective manner.”
“Another interesting usage of intent data comes with personalizing the website. If a targeted account comes to you and they show high intent on a topic, you can customize the web experience around that topic to create a more engaging experience. Or you can use what we called ‘topic of interest campaigns’ at Marketo. With this approach, we would literally track what topics people would interact with. If we saw a pattern, we would then put them into specialized campaign tracks focused on those topics."
“But first-party intent data can be tied to an exact individual because they've come to your site and filled out a form, etc. With first-party, you’re also more likely to have access to the intent of specific people further in the buying process.”
“Companies are using baseline intent data to know what their target markets care about—perhaps even by industry or by segment. They use it to drive their keyword strategy more effectively. Google can reveal overall search volume for keywords, but intent data reveals whether their specific market cares about those words and which ones they care about the most. So that's pretty interesting.”
Mark Ogne, ABM Consortium
Through an ongoing series of workshops, research reports, podcasts and other articles, Mark and the ABM Consortium have helped raise awareness of the potential benefits and best practices of applying account-based strategies. The group has also been front and center in educating and helping companies address and overcome the complexities related to this new approach, especially as it relates to data.
Mark shares some important definitions for the different types of signals brands can collect, with a particular emphasis on the differences between intent and predictive data.
indicators of action
property plus interest
signals stretch beyond borders
“There's a three-legged barstool in this conversation: intent data, predictive analytics and buyer’s journey stage. Without all three, and perhaps more, you'll not be so successful. Intent data is a topic of interest, predictive analytics is the propensity to act and buyer’s journey stage defines the format and form of content. Marketers need all three, working together, to be successful.
Property Plus Interest
“There are two key flaws to intent data—ones that marketers need to solve if they want to use this source of insight to successfully create and select content.
Signals Stretch Beyond Borders
People demonstrate intent in languages other than English. Consider it this way: Even in the U.S., perhaps 15% of intent signals come from other languages, like Spanish or simplified Chinese. In other regions—even in ones with high English fluency, like Brazil—most of the intent is indicated in Portuguese. The flaw is in assuming that English is the predominance of how people research. Knowing this, you might be in a better place if you consider versioning your content in different and more appropriate languages.
Intent data isn't just company-specific, it's geographically specific. Consider it this way: Today a marketer is building programs for North American target accounts and receives an intent signal. What they don't know is that the signal came from the U.K. and not the U.S. The U.S. portion of that account may have no intent score; yet, today the marketer is apt to spend money on a false signal.”
“Marketers already own the most valuable intent data; it's in their sales and marketing systems today. From prior interactions to website visits, marketers must first identify what their target accounts are already signaling to them. The value of external, third-party intent data signals grows once connected to this first-party data."
Indicators of Action
“Insights, of which intent is a part, can only create value when actioned. Operationalizing account-structured data in contact-centric technologies is super hard. Let's say you're a marketing operations professional and you receive a spreadsheet with target account topic scores. What do you do with that? A few years ago, my team logged all the steps to action in this data and found about 25 decision points.”
Jon Russo, B2B Fusion
B2B Fusion has helped create more than 100 account-based experiences globally with clients, several of which have won industry awards based on their performance. Content is admittedly not the core area of focus in the consultancy’s work, as it tends to focus on helping clients build the right processes and measurements so they can scale their ABM programs faster. However, as a former CMO for several large high-tech brands, Jon knows full well that content is a critical ingredient to the overall ABM recipe.
He shares his outlook on how intent will help B2B brands advance toward customizing content for specific verticals, accounts and roles, as well as a list of potential ways to start applying signal data.
tackling tech and data challenges
the promise of personalization
“The first challenge is making sure the keywords you’ve selected are the most relevant. Some of this work should already be done with your SEM search. The second is the integration to the CRM system, or in some cases marketing automation (though most integrate to CRM systems) to make the information or data collected usable by both Sales and Marketing. If the keywords are on the accounts, some marketing automation systems may or may not be able to read those fields and target the contacts within those accounts, which may be another challenge. Lastly, someone has to map the keywords, topics and high-interest areas to the buyer’s journey, then create the content to be served at those points.”
Tackling Tech and Data Challenges
“In theory, a progressive company could use intent data to facilitate personalization at scale. Although there are few B2B statistics published
in this area, B2C companies have a similar personalization struggle.
Forrester conducted personalization research that found that even companies whose personalization processes and approach are immature still see benefits. More specifically, companies that personalize, according to Forrester, can see a 6% increase in revenue, a 33% increase in customer loyalty and an 11% marketing cost savings. So intent data information could be used to help with personalization.”
The Promise of Personalization
“A buyer ‘interest set’ can be developed, similar to a persona, where intent data can inform what content to target based on the interests of the buyer at that time or, in some cases, based on actual articles consumed (and exact article consumption is known to the seller).”
Five Potential Applications of Signal Data
“Second-party data is someone else’s first-party data. Publishers who have content they own (G2, TechTarget) are examples of opted-in use of content. An example of how this could be applied to a content strategy would be targeting bottom-of-the-funnel activities for those using G2 Crowd to make vendor comparisons. Third-party intent data is everything else that happens on the internet—for example, web search terms, syndicated content. Keyword searches and topics expressing high interest could be gathered at the account level and then retargeted based on interests of that end user.”
Setting the Stage:
“You can also use either contact or account intent data to broadly monitor trends in the industry to create content around that aspect. You could use this information to pitch PR topics to key influencers or reporters, which helps position your company as a thought leader in the space.”
Reaching the Right Influencers:
“I could see a model where intent data really helps a firm that has a channel marketing strategy where they may not control the end customer, but they can target the end customer with relevant content based on their intent. By doing this, they’d not upset their channel partner yet still create their own demand for their product.”
“There is a more powerful model that some of the providers are at early stages in testing. Almost an ‘easy’ button that leverages intent data for BDRs/SDRs. For example, if a buyer is exhibiting a certain behavior and the intent platform deems them as qualified, BDRs are instructed what plays or steps should be taken in terms of content presentation. Right now, this requires some level of manual intervention to program the platforms for this, but this takes all the guesswork out of BDRs having to figure out what content to serve. With BDRs, given how junior they are, this approach really empowers them more cost-effectively.”
John Steinert, TechTarget
Like Surveying on Steroids
As a member of Forbes’ CMO Council and a frequent author on the subject of intent data, John was one of the pioneers showing the true potential of behavioral data in all aspects of marketing and sales. Having spent most of his career in B2B tech, John has helped global brands such as Dell, Pitney Bowes and SAP—as well as many other high-growth companies—apply insights to their engagement strategies.
Sharing pages from the playbook he’s worked out with many early adopters and power users of intent data, John provides useful tips on applying intent across multiple aspects of content marketing.
enabling early advocates
behavioral data as a building block
signals at all engagement stages
“We ourselves use the data to power our AI engines that drive the content marketing we do for our clients, whether it’s to promote written assets or relevant video. The intent data tells us both the buyer’s journey status of an account and the people within it and their specific topical interests. We serve up the most relevant content we have that matches this. Our client marketers do the same with their own stacks, but at a smaller scale.”
“Intent should be used as an early warning system to ‘marshal your forces’ around. Instead of waiting so long, signals like this mean that the content that Marketing or Sales should be sharing with the prospect should be late-stage journey support content—content that helps the buyers make a decision.
“Before late-stage, intent data about exactly who is already involved points you to the types of content those roles need to support their journey research. And those early advocates will welcome material that they can use to champion their opinions to their higher-ups. Make sure you craft material that will meet their needs and their various senior constituencies’ needs.”
Enabling Early Advocates
“It's always great to have real data to use at the formulation stage. Otherwise, you’re guessing much more than you should be. Behavioral data from known people in a specific category is like surveying on steroids. Think about how much Netflix and Amazon know about your personal preferences and how they can roll that up to look at trending from any number of perspectives.
“Your message maps need to be informed by what messages are currently resonating in the market with each of your targeted segments. If they don’t align, you need to decide whether to change them or attempt to change the segment’s mindset about you.”
Behavioral Data as a Building Block
“Progressive B2B companies are using high-quality intent data all across their go-to-markets. They’re augmenting their strategic survey data with an intent-based view of their markets to use in adjusting investments, coverage strategies, positioning and messaging. They’re using it to discover critical activity and sentiment present in their target accounts to discover and prioritize new opportunities and risks. They use it to optimize their nurture campaigns. They use it to accelerate their pipelines. And they use it to inform their customer success/support and customer-focused marketing activities.”
Signals at All Engagement Stages
Our research and analysis has shown that when both targeting and content are adjusted based on intent-data inputs, clients can achieve as much as 16x improvement on marketing outcomes, more than 2x improvement in pipeline creation and incredible growth in revenue-engine productivity and yields end to end.
Intent Data + Content Strategies
As B2B marketers begin to process data to identify and integrate intent signals, they’re uncovering new paths to map content directly to buyers who are looking for their products and solutions right now. Developing content for these “surging” buyers—whether for ABM or simply to communicate with buyers in the precise right moment—fulfills the real purpose of intent data.
You’ve heard from the intent data experts; now talk to the content experts. Learn how Content4Demand can help you apply intent signal data within content strategies to fulfill that purpose with content that meets buyers in the precise moment they’re exploring your solution.
Schedule a no-commitment content consultation to discuss how the intent data + content strategy solution can equal unprecedented marketing ROI.