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B2B Intent Data

In this month’s article, we want to uncover common reasons why companies might be afraid to take the leap and fully utilise what we know, is a hugely beneficial part of your sales and marketing strategy: Intent Data.

Knowing the intent of customers is one of the most powerful weapons sales and marketing teams can use. Yet, just a couple of years ago, according to the 2019 State of IT Marketing report by Spiceworks, only 26% of European companies were adopting purchase intent targeting in 2018 and 19% were planning to implement it in 2019. 

In a recent report by B2B Marketing, tech companies within the B2B sector are now finally starting to adopt marketing trends such as purchase intent targeting and we do expect to see a big boost in the implementation of such tech in the next two years. 

“By 2020, 50% of European businesses plan to use purchase-intent targeting” [B2B Marketing.2019.]

Not many other sources provide insights into the current state of B2B intent data in EMEA, although we can safely estimate that 2/3 of EMEA-based tech companies are not using it or executing it to its full potential.

So why is Intent data underutilised in EMEA and what do they feel the challenges are?

GDPR.

Still, yes. Most companies wagered their livelihoods on strategies driven by personal data and many executives yet consider GDPR a giant threat, especially in large enterprises. Many EMEA providers generate Intent Data from anonymous web users, thus requiring additional steps to convert them into known and opted-in prospects. 

This could be the reason why unless you have a trusted agency partner that can safely execute intent-driven campaigns or use an Intent provider with first-party data, companies might still perceive it as a rather dangerous tactic in Europe.  

In-language capabilities.

Not only there are just a few providers that can effectively track intent in at least 3 European ‘working languages’(English, French and German) but also, companies need to be able to localise execution of intent campaigns in each regional market. This requires skills and resources that a lot of companies are limited with, making it rather difficult to source and run Intent Data campaigns across Europe alone. Adding Middle East and Africa to the mix certainly does not make things easier.

Awareness.

Another possible reason is that EMEA companies don’t know exactly what Intent Data is, what providers have EMEA capabilities and how to effectively use it. The Intent Data market is relatively new and constantly threatened by Data Privacy regulations so there is still a long way before we will see wide adoption.

Adoption.

Choosing the right Intent Data is only the first hurdle. Being able to use it correctly is even more crucial. We have seen many EMEA companies simply not prepared for it or with a poor execution strategy. Would you buy a new Marketing Automation Platform without a plan, integration, and onboarding strategy? I bet you would not. 

However, every Intent provider is different. Some require hefty changes to your MarTech stack and processes; some provide end-to-end solutions and are rather easy to implement. This is why it is paramount to understand how ready you are to implement, not just another data source to your systems, but a whole strategy that can impact all areas of your business. 

B2B Mindset.

There isn’t enough emphasis on intent data or lack of intent from the target audience based on their online/intent behaviour online. Determining a successful campaign is often judged purely on the instant results with lead generation. 

There should be a realisation by now that the buying cycle is constantly changing in B2B with the purchasing power not sitting with just the one person. Targeted campaigns with a heavy focus on job title targeting and short-term goals are not the most effective way of reaching the right audience. There may be a lost opportunity with this B2B mentality. 

Intent data requires a long-term, always-on approach as it provides the opportunity to constantly influence in-market buyers across all stages of the buying cycle. Your audiences need to see a message seven times before it sinks in. If your marketing frequency is too low or not targeted, your brand message will simply blend into the crowd.

How should you approach Intent Data?

Check your resources.

Some Intent Data platforms are self-service, such as TechTarget Priority Engine and Cyance. This means you can operate them and execute campaigns from them yourself as the providers give you full access to their data. They can be extremely powerful, but you’ll either need in-house resources to effectively extract value from data or can rely on managed services from one of their partner agencies.

Other providers such as Aberdeen and IDG, bake Intent Data into their services and solutions so you don’t really have access to their “raw” intent data. These are generally easier to implement as they can deliver an end-to-end solution that does not require any software investment or changing your Martech stack (this often happens with self-service platforms).

Regardless of what Intent Data source you choose, you need to have buy-in from at least Marketing, Marketing & Sales Ops and Sales Leadership. One person from each department should be fully onboarded and committed to making things work. 

Know what you need it for.

The underlying use case for Intent Data is being able to constantly target and influence companies in-market for your solutions, for at least 1 full sales cycle. This averages 6-9 months in B2B so if that is your goal (shouldn’t it be for every marketer?) you need to commit to at least a year-long program. This way you will not be disappointed after a 3-month’s trial.

However, there are many other use cases for Intent Data. Some companies need it specifically to improve e-mail marketing; some to power virtual events recruitment; some just for their Biz Dev teams. Ideally, you should be using it across all use cases but we all know everything is tied to a budget and solving a challenge.  

So, start from there. Uncover the root of your challenge and make the case for a year-long budget. There are different KPIs at 0-3, 3-6 and 6+ months into the program that can help you track progress and provide the opportunity to make things work. 

Start simple.

It is easy to get carried away and rush through the adoption of intent data, we have seen it in many companies.Complexity is the enemy of execution (Tony Robbins) so if you start with a simple, easy-to-deploy use case is the best way to get things in motion.

For example, you can create a basic data flow, in 1 language, into one of your outreach systems such as Marketing Automation or Sales Engagement Platform. Align the Intent Data topics to a relevant nurture stream or sales sequence and make sure you assign an attribution code to each data source. Test the process with enough data and tweak if your KPIs are not satisfactory. Repeat and expand to more data and languages/markets.

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Post Author: Marco Perotti

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